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Caleb's Posse: Last to First in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile

The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile has been won by many of the finest horses in this sport; Goldencents, Knicks Go, City of Light, and Life is Good to name a few. Though only inaugurated in 2007, twenty-three years after the first Breeders’ Cup, it’s a race that Spendthrift Farm’s general manager Ned Toffy claims is a feather in the cap for any stallion prospect. It proves that a horse is fast with the ability to hold that speed longer than the Sprint distance of six furlongs.

There have been many exciting performances in this race’s 15 editions, but one of the most thrilling victories occurred just four years after the race’s inauguration. Caleb’s Posse, the brilliant Amsterdam Stakes (G2) and King’s Bishop (G1) winner, flew from almost dead last to steal the race from Shackleford.

The win was undoubtedly a feather in his cap.

Breeding & Two-Year-Old Season (2008 - 2010):

Caleb’s Posse was foaled in Kentucky on April 4th, 2008. He is sired by Grade 2 winner Posse and is out of the Slewacide mare Abbey’s Missy. Posse has sired the likes of Canadian Champion Two-Year-Old Colt and Champion Sprinter in the USA, Kodiak Kowboy; two-time Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) winner and the richest New York-bred in history, Mind Your Biscuits; and a multitude of other graded stakes winners.

Caleb’s Posse’s female family includes the likes of Proud Silver, Champion Three-Year-Old Filly and Champion Older Female in Mexico, and Princess Orizaba, Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in Mexico.

Breeder Don C. McNeill decided to retain ownership of the colt in partnership with Cheyenne Stables. He was trained by Donnie Von Hemmel throughout his career.

Caleb’s Posse made his career debut on July 1st, 2010 at Arlington Park, finishing 2nd. He broke his maiden in his next start, which was promising enough for his connections to enter him in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3); he finished 3rd in his first graded stakes attempt as the second choice on the board.

The colt traveled to Keeneland for his next start and captured an Allowance before heading to Remington Park in Oklahoma. There he won his first stakes event, the Clever Trevor, and ended the season with a 7th in the Springboard Mile Stakes.

In all, Caleb’s Posse finished his two-year-old season with a record of 3-1-1 from 6 starts.

Three-Year-Old Season (2011):

2011 would turn out to be a fantastic year for Caleb's Posse. He started his three-year-old season by soaring through the dense fog at Oaklawn Park to capture the Smarty Jones Stakes.

“Down the backside, he was just galloping,” jockey Eusebio Razo Jr. recalled. “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.”

Caleb’s Posse didn’t have the same kind of luck in his next start, the Southwest Stakes (G3), in which he placed 6th. Nevertheless, he rebounded with a 2nd in the Rebel Stakes (G2), finishing just ahead of the Southwest’s winner ArchArchArch.

Though there was potential of running in the Kentucky Derby after the Rebel Stakes, Caleb’s Posse ended up second to last in the Arkansas Derby (G1) after getting pinched at the start and failing to recover. Though Derby dreams would not be realized for Caleb’s Posse, there were still big things on the horizon.

The colt traveled back to the Midwest where he captured his first graded stakes race, the Ohio Derby (G3), and finished 4th in the Iowa Derby (G3).

Afterward, Don Hemmel decided to take Caleb’s Posse to Saratoga for the Summer. He felt that the colt’s pedigree suggested success in shorter, one-turn races. Hemmel was correct; he entered the colt in the 6 ½ furlong Amsterdam Stakes (G2) and Caleb’s Posse romped by four lengths as the longest shot on the board.

[Video: Watch Caleb’s Posse win the Amsterdam Stakes (G2)]

“If you looked at his races last year, (Caleb’s Posse) was a capable sprinter that we were stretching out because of the opportunities the 3-year-olds have through the spring,” Von Hemel told BloodHorse after the Amsterdam. “It turned out that maybe we should have been sprinting before now.”

The incredible Amsterdam performance was enough for Caleb’s Posse’s connections to take their chances in the King’s Bishop (G1). It was undoubtedly a tough spot; Champagne (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Uncle Mo was making his return in this race after a nearly 5-month layoff. Flashpoint, the winner of the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) and Jersey Shore Stakes (G3), was also entered.

Though Uncle Mo had the lead at the top of the stretch, he could not hold off a powerful late run from Caleb’s Posse. They were nearly inseparable when they hit the wire, but the photo proved Caleb’s Posse the winner by a nose. It was a brilliant performance and the first Grade 1 win for Caleb’s Posse.

[Video: Watch Caleb’s Posse beat Uncle Mo to the wire by a nose]

By then it was clear that Caleb’s Posse could have a shot in the Breeders’ Cup. Caleb's Posse's team took him to Hoosier Park to prepare for the big race in the Indiana Derby (G2). The colt finished 3rd, which pleased his connections enough to take him to Churchill Downs for the Dirt Mile (G1).

The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile attracted talented horses like Willburn (who defeated Caleb’s Posse in the Indiana Derby), Shackleford, Trappe Shot, and The Factor. Caleb’s Posse broke from post position eight and settled in his usual spot at the back of the field. He was still nearly last at the top of the stretch, but jockey Rajiv Maragh angled him wide and asked the horse for everything he had.

Caleb’s Posse had no problem giving it to him; practically blending in with Churchill Downs’ dirt surface, Caleb’s Posse began soaring past horses. He kept accelerating until he passed every single horse. He was four lengths in front by the time he hit the wire.

It was the first Breeders’ Cup win for all of his connections and was the first time in history that a three-year-old horse had won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

“If my chest could swell any bigger, it probably wouldn’t fit here,” Hemmel said after the race. “I’m so proud of him, he’s such a neat little horse, and he comes to run on those one-turn races, man."

[Video: Watch Caleb’s Posse fly home to win the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1)]

Caleb’s Posse ended the year with a record of 5-1-1 from 10 starts.

Four-Year-Old Season (2012):

The Breeders’ Cup champion began 2012 with a 2nd place finish in the Tom Fool Handicap (G2) and was just a head short of winning the Carter Handicap (G1) in his next start. He had the same result in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1), just missing the win over Shackleford by a whisker.

He had been off to a great start with three narrow 2nd place finishes in some of the most celebrated races in the country, but he did not get the chance to visit the winner's circle as a four-year-old. A displaced fragment was found in his knee after the Met Mile and though his connections hoped he could return after some time off, the surgery to fix this displacement would take him out for the remainder of the year. It was decided then that Caleb’s Posse would retire to stud at Three Chimneys Farm.

“We are thrilled that Caleb's Posse is coming to Three Chimneys,” announced Robert N. Clay of Three Chimneys Farm. “He was a brilliant miler who traces back to La Troienne. He is a quality individual that will cross well with a variety of pedigrees. We expect him to be a very popular commercial sire.”

Stud Career:

Caleb’s Posse had success at Three Chimneys, producing 29 winners from 34 runners, including three stakes winners, in his first crop. He had 48 winners and $2.8 million in progeny earnings in his first three crops overall.

In 2018, it was announced that Caleb’s Posse would be relocating to River Oaks Farm in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

"I'm excited about getting Caleb's Posse to Oklahoma, where his first three dams were raised and where his damsire, Slewacide, a perennial leading sire in Oklahoma, stood for many years," co-owner Everett Dobson said of the decision. "We think he is excellent for the state-bred program, and a great opportunity for breeders in Oklahoma to take advantage of a two-time Eclipse Award nominee and one of the most impressive racehorses of his generation."

Caleb’s Posse has done fantastic in Oklahoma. He is a Top 10 Active Oklahoma Sire with 70% starts and 77% winners. His progeny earns $62,132 on average and he has had yearlings and two-year-olds sell for 55x his stud fee.

Caleb's Posse was inducted into the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2017 and thanks to being the first three-year-old to win the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, Caleb's Posse is forever a part of horse racing history.


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