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Calibrachoa Wins Again in Toboggan

Calibrachoa picked up his third consecutive victory and first in a graded stakes with a determined effort in the 118th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Toboggan on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.


Making his second start for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Repole Stable, he settled in third as pacesetter Fastus Cactus raced far off the rail through a quarter of 22.87. Calibrachoa took the overland route under Ramon Dominguez as he commenced his rally on the far turn, and the odds-on favorite forged to the front inside the eighth pole and turned back Independence War to prevail by a half-length.


“The horse that I thought was going to make the lead [Fastus Cactus] went out for it,” said Dominguez. “I was a little concerned because that horse has been known to get out pretty badly in the past, but I thought Jose [Espinoza] did a good job last time, and today he was very manageable, too. I just stayed right next to him, and turning for home inside the sixteenth pole, I really have to give my horse a lot of credit. I thought that I was beat. I felt like I was all out and that they were closing on me, but when my horse felt the horse on the inside [Independence War] he went on again and showed a lot of courage.”


Claimed for $40,000 out of a 4 ¼-length victory on November 18, Calibrachoa quickly recouped that investment by winning the Gravesend on December 18 by 1 ½ lengths over stablemate Driven by Success, who was scratched from the Toboggan in favor of Wednesday’s $60,000 Mr International for New York-breds.


“[Calibrachoa] has now run three really fast races in a row, and anytime you run as fast as he did last time you’re concerned coming back,” said Pletcher. “I don’t think this was as good of a performance as his last, but he was able to dig down and find more.”


Pletcher said he will consider the Grade 2 General George at Laurel Park on February 21 or the Grade 3 Tom Fool at Aqueduct on March 5 for Calibrachoa’s next start.


“[Where Calibrachoa races next] may depend on Driven by Success,” said Pletcher. “We might split the two up and run one here and one there. We’ll see how Driven does on Wednesday and go from there. The Tom Fool would probably be a little better timing for [Calibrachoa].”


Calibrachoa, who completed six furlongs in 1:09.74 as the 2-5 favorite, returned $2.80 for a $2 win wager. The 4-year-old son of Southern Image, now 6-3-1 from 12 starts, earned $60,000 for his Gravesend victory, pushing his bankroll to $220,540.


“It feels good, because this is my first graded stakes win outside of Uncle Mo,” said owner Mike Repole, whose Uncle Mo was named the 2010 Champion Two-Year-Old Male at the Eclipse Awards on Monday. “I was 0-for-27 in graded stakes, now, I’m like 3-for-4. It was a great claim. Todd [Pletcher] watched the horse, I saw the horse … it just shows you what Todd can do with a horse in 30 days, and now 60 days. How many times do you claim a horse for $40,000 and it wins the Gravesend, and now the Toboggan?”


Temecula Creek finished 2 ½ lengths behind Calibrachoa in third, with Endless Circle and Fastus Cactus completing the order of finish.





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