08/01/2011 4:44PM

Saratoga: Caleb’s Posse powers home to win Amsterdam

Barbara D. Livingston
Caleb's Posse wins the Grade 2, $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes by four lengths at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Though Caleb’s Posse won two stakes going a route of ground this year, trainer Donnie Von Hemel came to the conclusion that if the 3-year-old colt was going to continue to have success in graded stakes it would be at shorter distances.

Von Hemel’s premise was borne out Monday as Caleb’s Posse, under Rajiv Maragh, unleashed a powerful stretch kick to blow past the bulk of the field and win the Grade 2, $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes by four lengths at Saratoga. Redeemed got second by a neck over Wine Police. They were followed in the order of finish by Justin Phillip, Arch Traveler, To Honor and Serve, and Travelin Man.

The win was the sixth from 13 starts for Caleb’s Posse, a son of Posse owned by McNeill Stables and Cheyenne Stables.

Caleb’s Posse had not sprinted since he won the Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park last November.  In seven stakes races since, Caleb’s Posse won the Smarty Jones going a two-turn mile at Oaklawn and the Ohio Derby going 1 1/16 miles around two turns at Thistledown. In his most recent start, Caleb’s Posse had finished fourth in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby.

“I think we had exhausted what we could do as a 3-year-old going long,” Von Hemel said. “And we were going to end up fourth or fifth in some of those graded races the rest of the year if we ran there. So it was an experiment that had a good chance to succeed, considering his pedigree.”

Though he broke well, Caleb’s Posse dropped back to last under Rajiv Maragh while Arch Traveler, the 3-1 favorite, dueled with To Honor and Serve through a quarter-mile in 22.45 seconds and a half-mile in 45.01.

Around the far turn, Caleb’s Posse moved around Redeemed and approaching the stretch, Maragh guided Caleb’s Possse from the two path to the middle of the track. Once straightened away, Caleb’s Posse leveled off and steamrolled past Justin Phillip and Wine Police inside the eighth pole and drew clear.

Caleb’s Posse covered the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.88 and returned $27.60 to win as the longest shot in the field.

“I felt like I had a lot of horse and I was going to be able to beat horses in front, so I just didn’t want to get impeded by any means, so I took him to the clear for clear sailing, and he kicked on really strong,” Maragh said.

Von Hemel said he would give serious consideration to running Caleb’s Posse in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at seven furlongs here Aug. 27 against a field that could include Uncle Mo, The Factor, and Flashpoint.

“That’s a discussion we’ll have to have with the ownership,” he said. “It looks like it’ll be a little tougher in that group, but the way he performed today maybe he can handle that, too.”