Unlike lawyers, horse trainers ask a question when they don’t know the answer. Well, sometimes they might know the answer and ask the question anyway. Ricky Hendriks watched Irish import Caldbeck school three times leading up to Far Hills. Each time, Hendriks asked the same question to jockeys Mikey Mitchell, Ross Geraghty and Jack Kennedy.
“Mikey schooled him the first time, I was like, ‘Does he feel as good as he looks?’ He was like, ‘Yeah,’ ” Hendriks said. “Ross schooled him to make sure, I’m like, ‘Ross, does he feel as good as he looks?’ Ross was like, ‘Yeah.’ Jack schooled him, I asked him the same question, he gave me the same answer, that doesn’t happen every day.”
Caldbeck turned those three impressive schooling sessions into to an even more impressive romp in the Gladstone Stakes, a 3-year-old stakes that opened the card, walloping eight American-bred rivals to score by 11 1/2 lengths for Rosbrian Farm and Ireland’s best young jockey, Kennedy.
“He was coming out of Gordon’s yard and Gordon wanted him to ride the horse,” Hendriks said when asked about assigning Kennedy to the son of Dark Angel. “We breezed him once, nice and easy piece of work in the field at home.”
Caldbeck made five starts on the flat in Ireland, mustering two thirds at Fairyhouse this summer before making his hurdle debut at Ballinrobe Sept. 21. That day, he was beaten 15 1/4 lengths on heavy ground. Treated with Lasix for the first time, Caldbeck stamped himself as the star of the burgeoning 3-year-old crop this year.
Two days after the Gladstone, Hendriks entered Caldbeck in the maiden flat at the International Gold Cup. Then changed his mind.
“He’ll go to Charleston,” Hendriks said. “I got jumpy and entered him this weekend but that was a bad idea. I went down to the barn (Tuesday), he was laying down in his stall, I said, that’s a bad idea.”