07/21/2007 12:00AM

Optimer overdue for a good trip

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Optimer is long overdue for his first victory of the year. That problem may be solved in a $63,000 allowance race at Del Mar on Monday.

Trained by Richard Dutrow, the Argentine-bred Optimer has yet to win in eight starts in this country. His last two races have been particularly hard on the partnership that owns the 5-year-old horse.

Optimer was beaten a head in allowance races at Hollywood Park on May 2 and June 16. He had the lead in the May 2 race and was caught late by Caribbean. To assistant trainer Chip Dutrow, the losses have been frustrating.

"He hasn't had the best of trips," said Dutrow, who oversees a seven-horse stable here for his brother. "He's gotten beaten right on the money in his last two starts. I think all he needs is a clean trip."

Optimer won two overnight races in Argentina in early 2006 before being sent to the United States. His last few starts have been his best since coming to California last winter. At Santa Anita in March, he lost an allowance race over 1 1/8 miles on turf by a head.

"We'll be right there if things go right," Dutrow said of Monday's race. "To me, he gets better in every race. He's on top of his game."

A stalker, Optimer is among 11 entered for Monday's seventh race, which will be run over 1 1/16 miles on turf. The race will be limited to 10 starters.

Trainer Julio Canani has two starters - The Big One and Soar with Eagles. The Big One needed 11 races to beat maidens, finally doing so in a one-mile race at Hollywood Park on May 9.

Soar with Eagles was third in the four-horse Group 2 Royal Whip Stakes in Ireland last August, but did not run to that level in his U.S. debut on June 16. Sent off favored, Soar with Eagles was well-placed turning into the stretch but faded to finish fourth, 5 3/4 lengths behind Hit and Hope. Optimer was second in that field.

Other contenders are Add Heat, second in an allowance race on the synthetic track at Hollywood Park on July 2; Bronzino, a maiden winner at Hollywood Park last December; and Karn, a four-time winner in his 19-race career.

Bronzino has suffered from little problems that have limited him to four starts, trainer John Shirreffs said.

Karn was a troubled second in a $40,000 claimer at Hollywood Park on June 23.