Updated on 08/30/2011 11:30AM

Replay: Caleb's Posse nips Uncle Mo at the wire in King's Bishop

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Michael Amoruso
Caleb's Posse (foreground) closes strongly to nose out Uncle Mo in the King's Bishop.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Caleb’s Posse took advantage of a hotly contested pace and a well-timed ride by Rajiv Maragh to spoil Uncle Mo’s much anticipated return, running down the reigning juvenile champion to register a heart-stopping nose decision in Saturday’s $250,000 King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga.

Uncle Mo lost his right hind shoe after the start of the King’s Bishop, trainer Todd Pletcher revealed after the race.

Caleb’s Posse, a son of Posse owned by Cheyenne Stables and McNeill Stables and trained by Donnie Von Hamel, turned back off a series of longer races to register an impressive four-length victory in the Grade 2 Amsterdam earlier this month as a prelude to his career-defining moment in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop.

As expected, Caleb’s Posse dropped to the rear of the field as Flashpoint, Runflatout, and Poseidon’s Warrior engaged in a suicidal duel for the lead during the early stages of the seven-furlong King’s Bishop.  Uncle Mo, reserved in perfect striking position by jockey John Velazquez behind the dueling leaders, circled four wide and edged clear in early stretch en route to an apparent triumphant return. But Caleb’s Posse finished full of run down the center of the track after swinging five wide off the final turn, ultimately catching the even-money favorite in the final stride.

Justin Phillip rallied mildly to finish third, followed in order by Dominus, Flashpoint, Poseidon’s Warrior, Runflatout, and Cool Blue Red Hot.

Caleb’s Posse covered the distance in 1:09.21 over a fast track and paid $13.80.

“I thought we were up against it going out there over this racetrack, which seemed to be favoring speed,” Von Hemel said. “I was just hopeful enough speed would develop, so we could have a chance. I thought watching the race, he had won it in the last jump but after watching the slow motion replay, I wasn’t sure. It was sure thrilling, for me anyway, right down to the final jump. We always thought he’d be a one-turn horse, but I wanted to take advantage of the early 3-year-old races. Now, he’s at the top of his class from six furlongs to a mile.”

Von Hamel said the Breeders’ Cup would certainly be in Caleb’s Posse’s future, although a decision would have to be made whether to point him to the Sprint or Dirt Mile.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said the King’s Bishop wasn’t necessarily about winning or losing as far as Uncle Mo was concerned.

“For Uncle Mo, it wasn’t about the King’s Bishop with all he went through,”  Pletcher said. “Obviously, we’re just very happy to have him back as sick as he was, and we are very happy with his effort, although from an emotional standpoint we wanted that win. Sometimes you can run as good as you can and you don’t win, you still come up a little short, and that’s what happened today.”

Pletcher said aside from losing a shoe, Uncle Mo appeared to be cooling out nicely back at the barn. But Repole noted immediately after the race that the King’s Bishop could be Uncle Mo’s final start.

“He ran very hard, and you never know how much that can take out of a horse coming off a five-month layoff,” Repole said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this was his last race.”

– additional reporting by David Grening