08/23/2012 3:07PM

Del Mar: Calimonco needs win for shot at Breeders' Cup

Shigeki Kikkawa
Calimonco has never finished worse than third over the Del Mar turf.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Calimonco has shown an affinity for Del Mar’s turf course, a trend that trainer John Sadler hopes continues in Sunday’s $200,000 Del Mar Mile.

“I don’t necessarily know why he runs so well here,” Sadler said. “This is his best track.”

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Calimonco is considered by owners Marty Wygod and Don Cohn to be a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. But Sadler said Calimonco must show better form to earn a spot in that race.

“We’ve got to win this one,” Sadler said.

Calimonco has made three starts on Del Mar’s turf course and has never been worse than third. A 6-year-old horse, he won the restricted Wickerr Stakes and was third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile last year.

Earlier at this meeting, he was second in the Wickerr, losing by three-quarters of a length to Suggestive Boy. Sunday, Suggestive Boy starts as a contender in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic.

The competition for Sunday’s Del Mar Mile includes the three-time stakes winner Mr. Commons, who was second in the 2011 Del Mar Mile, and Jeranimo, the winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 30.

Calimonco worked a half-mile in 48.40 seconds on turf on Thursday, his final major exercise before the race.

By Storm Cat, Calimonco has outstanding breeding. He is a full brother to Sweet Catomine, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2004, and Life Is Sweet, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Santa Anita in 2009. Overall, he has won 5 of 32 starts and $268,610.

Calimonco was scheduled to go to stud earlier this year at Cohn’s Ballena Vista Farm in Ramona, Calif., until Wygod and Cohn opted for one more season of racing. The stud career is scheduled to start in 2013.

This year, Calimonco has 1 win in 4 starts, having won the Sidd Finch Stakes at Santa Anita in April. A win on Sunday could be the first major stakes win of what could be an interesting fall season for Calimonco. Unfortunately, Sunday’s race will be his last start on a turf course he seems to adore.

◗ Sunday’s program also features the $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes over seven furlongs and the first meeting between the Grade 1 winners Coil and Camp Victory. Coil won the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational in 2011 and an optional claimer in July in his only start this year. Camp Victory won the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park in June.

◗ Sadler had an active morning with turf workouts. Byrony, second in the Osunitas Handicap on July 21, worked seven furlongs in 1:26.60. A 4-year-old filly, she will make her next start in the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap on Sept. 3, a race formerly known as the Palomar Handicap.

Scherer Magic, the winner of the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 14, worked five furlongs on turf in 1:01.80. He will make his next start on Sept. 5 – in the $100,000 Oak Tree Juvenile Turf over a mile or the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs.

◗ Awesome Gem, a troubled third in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 19, is a candidate for the $250,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 29, trainer Craig Dollase said. The Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes was previously known as the Goodwood Stakes.

In the Longacres Mile, Awesome Gem raced in traffic on the final turn and in early stretch and was beaten 1 1/2 lengths as the 2-1 favorite.