08/02/2011 4:27PM

Saratoga: Von Hemel feels highs and lows

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Barbara D. Livingston
Caleb's Posse, with Rajiv Maragh riding, dominates in the Amsterdam.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Donnie Von Hemel summed up the first 10 days of his 2011 Saratoga experience thusly: “The highs and lows of racing, I suppose.”

The high came Monday when Caleb’s Posse exploded down the stretch to win the Grade 2, $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes by four lengths. He ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.88 and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 105.

The low was Alienation’s fourth-place finish in Saturday’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy, a race he had been pointing the 3-year-old to since winning the Peter Pan in May.

Turning back to a sprint for the first time since last November, Caleb’s Posse powered down the center of the Saratoga stretch under Rajiv Maragh to win the Amsterdam and earn a shot in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop here at seven furlongs on Aug. 27.

“If everything’s good between now and then, we’d certainly be looking towards that,” said Von Hemel, who noted that Caleb’s Posse ate well both Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, Von Hemel did not offer much of an excuse for Alternation’s fourth-place finish to Stay Thirsty in the Jim Dandy.

“Stay Thirsty was much the best that day,” Von Hemel said. “Maybe on the Saratoga main track you have to lay a little closer than we can.”

Von Hemel said that Alternation would likely be pointed to the $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 10.

Meanwhile, Von Hemel has gone 2 for 3 at this meet, having also won a third-level allowance race with Ha Ha Tonka on July 28. Von Hemel has Always in My Heart Run entered in Friday’s Madame Jumel Stakes.

“To come to Saratoga and win any race with a small group of horses is a pretty good thing,” said Von Hemel, who brought five horses here.