From a most modest beginning, Caleb’s Posse rose to such heights to be among the very best of American race horses. He was certainly never better than a Saturday afternoon last November when he inhaled the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile field to win as impressively as any horse that made it to the winner’s circle over the two day World Championships. Unfortunately, the racing ride has come to an end for the four-year-old son of Posse.
The disappointing announcement was just released by Three Chimneys Farm. "We discovered a non-displaced fragment in his left knee after the Met Mile," said Caleb's Posse's owners. "We were hopeful that some time off would resolve the situation, but recent radiographs have revealed that surgery to remove the chip will mean that he could not return to the racetrack this year. He has proven his brilliance on the track, and now we want to give him a chance to pass on that brilliance in the breeding shed."
Despite being 0 for 3 so far in 2012, no one could doubt the class and excellence of the consummate one-turn closer. Running against some of the fastest horses in the nation, Caleb's Posse uncoiled his ferocious late kick without fail. First, in the six-furlong Tom Fool, he came just one stride late from nailing Calibrachoa at the wire. It was not his best distance, but the close was breathtaking, and it signaled that the horse that many considered to be the finest three-year-old in the land last year would be a force to be reckoned with this year.
Next came the seven-furlong, Grade Carter Handicap and as the favorite and highweight in the elite field of five, fans at the Big A were hoping to see the Donnie Von Hemel colt come flying. He did, but once again, his rally came tantalizingly short, losing by a dirty nose to Jackson Bend. Surely his third start, and in the most important of the trio, would be different and finally culminate with a Caleb’s Posse victory. It was not to be. For the third straight time, he would run into a horse running a great race, and he would lose by too small a margin to seem fair. This time it was Shackleford, getting a couple pounds from the late runner, who would keep a nostril in front at the wire. The pair finished the Grade 1 Met Mile in 1:33.30, in what I consider, along with the Preakness, to be the finest race run so far in 2012.
Caleb’s Posse had run three excellent races in defeat, and his reputation was in my mind not tarnished one iota. As of yesterday, I considered him the best miler going, and the proposition of him winning his second consecutive Dirt Mile a more likely outcome than any other horse winning. Now we know it will not happen.
A stakes winner at both two and three, Caleb’s Posse missed out on an Eclipse Award as Champion Three-Year-Old last year much like he did all three races this year … it was tight. In the end, voters went with the Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, by a slim margin. Besides the big Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile win, Caleb's Posse's also accounted for the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes, as well as the Amsterdam, Ohio Derby, and Smarty Jones Stakes last year.
Bred in Kentucky by Don McNeill, Caleb's Posse is out of the homebred mare Abbey's Missy, a daughter of Slewicide. It was not exactly the pedigree of your typical champion, but Caleb’s Posse sure ran like one. The winner of 8 of 19 lifetime starts, his earnings exceeded the $1.4 million mark. While his racing career and exciting style will not soon be forgotten, it is time for his second career to start at Three Chimneys Farm, where he will hope to emulate such superstar stallions as Seattle Slew and the recently deceased Dynaformer. Huge shoes to fill, but if Caleb’s Posse can pass on his immense turn of foot and strong will to win to his offspring, he will be a success.