Caleb's Posse Takes Smarty Jones Stakes with Authority

Jan. 17, 2011

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For Immediate Release


Jennifer Hoyt, Media Relations Manager, (501) 623-4411 ex. 490


HOT SPRINGS, AR (Monday, Jan. 17, 2011) – The only thing clear at Oaklawn Park on Monday was Caleb’s Posse’s two and three-quarter length victory over Dreaminofthewin in Monday’s $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes. A dense fog covered Hot Springs and made it very difficult for race fans and announcer Terry Wallace to see much other than the final strides of the one-mile race for 3-year-olds hoping to make the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 16.

According to winning jockey Eddie Razo Jr., Caleb’s Posse sat in fifth position as four horses – Bluegrass Bull, Grant Jack, Archarcharch, the even money favorite, and Bonaroo – spanned across the track within a head of each other through the first turn. Razo moved the winner into the three path around the half-mile pole and when he asked for his move, he got the answer he was looking for. The son of Posse won easily in 1:43 for a mile over a good track. Bluegrass Bull was third, followed by Archarcharch, Bonaroo, Make it Roses and Grant Jack.

“My instructions were to just let him break and to not take him back,” said Razo. “He broke great. After that, I just took a nice long hold. Down the backside, he was just galloping. When I got to the three-eighths pole, I knew I had it won. He really kicked in hard through the stretch. A mile wasn’t a problem for him. It’s a good feeling to win a race like this and know he could have kept going.”

“From what I could see of it, I think we got a great trip,” added winning trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, who conditions the colt for Don McNeill’s McNeill Stables LLC. “They were coming through the stretch and said ‘I think that's him in front.’”

Von Hemel had said earlier in the week that he was hoping after the Smarty Jones, he’d be able to throw out the colt’s last race when he was seventh in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec. 11.

“To really try to explain his last race, the best I could come up with - and I hope there's some validity to this - is that the track was just starting to freeze and the horses who were 1-2-3 stayed 1-2-3,” said Von Hemel. “Nobody ran by anybody. I think it gave us a legitimate excuse. We are just pleased as punch and excited to get this win.”

Caleb’s Posse improved his record to 4-3-1 in seven career starts and has now earned $182,440 for his connections. He returned $10.40, $5.80 and $4.40 as the 4-1 third choice in the field of seven. Von Hemel said that he and Alternation, a winner of an allowance race for 3-year-olds on Saturday would both be nominated to the Southwest Stakes (G3), the next step on the Arkansas Derby trail on Feb. 21.

Live racing resumes at Oaklawn on Thursday, Jan. 20. First post in 1:30 p.m.

Additional Quotes:

Luis Quinonez, jockey of Dreaminofthewin, second:
“I came from far back. I felt pretty good on the turn and at one point I thought I was going to run by them. Then, I saw the one horse (Caleb’s Posse) and he was really moving.”

Gabriel Saez, jockey of Bluegrass Bull, third:

“Couldn’t have had a better trip. He broke good and the others showed all that speed, I was able to sit in behind them. It seemed like they maybe were going a little quick. By the quarter-pole, he made a good move and was trying really hard. The winner kind of jumped on us, but I’m proud of my horse.”

Jon Court, jockey of beaten favorite, Archarcharch, fourth:

“It wasn’t what I expected going into that first turn. I figured I’d be laying off the speed, but he kind of pulled me out there and I had to make the best of the position I was in. I just tried to hold them off as long as I could, but he got a little tired. It was his first time around two turns and I think he did really well. He should get a lot out of it and be ready to go get’em the next time.”

Jinks Fires, trainer of beaten favorite, Archarcharch, fourth:

“He came back tired. A horse kind of lapped up on him at the start and he got aggressive.”