Mar 16, 2020 3:55 PM


Showing tremendous potential as a young horse, Tomas Garcia del Rio’s rambunctious gelding Cali Marino (Open Tintero x Marinera) has earned his place at the forefront of the 8-goaler’s string. Arriving from Argentina four years ago, the now 10-year-old Cali Marino has developed into Garcia del Rio’s top horse, garnering the Best Playing Pony blanket during the 2018 Silver Cup® Final at Greenwich Polo Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. Carrying the heart of a Thoroughbred champion and the recognition of the Ellerstina bloodline, Cali Marino has proved himself time and time again to be trusted with the outcome of pivotal games as a faithful sixth chukker horse.

Started by Marco Luther and made by Carlos Rodriguez in Argentina, Cali Marino was refined and finished in the United States playing 20- to 26-goal polo. Counted upon to unleash undeniable power on the field with devouring strides, Cali Marino’s agility and endurance is the key to many victories over the last several years. Sitting down at Patagones’ Wellington-based barn, the USPA spoke to Garcia del Rio about what ingredients his complete gelding possesses which make him such an asset in GAUNTLET OF POLO® competition.

Tomas Garcia Del Rio and Cali Marino ©David Lominska
Patagones' Tomas Garcia del Rio and Cali Marino ©David Lominska

What is his breeding?

“Cali Marino is a homebred from Argentina, he is by Open Tintero (Open Sunset x Ellerstina Tinta), a stallion from Ellerstina, and out of Marinera [Spanish for sailor], a Thoroughbred mare I played for many years in Argentina. Marinera was very fast, strong and had a lot of stamina and Cali Marino has similar qualities except he is even better.

Marinera and Open Tintero were at the same embryo center and since I didn’t have many other horses by that stallion I decided to breed them. He only has one sister, but she is a 2-year-old green horse that is just now being trained.”

“This is only the second time I’ve played him [Cali Marino] and it seems like I’ve known him since he was born. That’s the sign of an extremely good horse. He can run fast, he can stop, he can turn, if you want to turn closer he can do it, and if you want more speed he has it. He’s a really complete horse and you want to play him in the final chukker because he is really comfortable.”  – 8-goaler Santiago Toccalino, while substituting for an injured Garcia del Rio during the Ylvisaker Cup Semifinals

Garcia del Rio avoids the hook on Cali Marino. ©David Lominska
Garcia del Rio avoids the hook on Cali Marino. ©David Lominska

When did you know he would be your best horse?

“I brought him over from Argentina as a green horse* when he was six years old because he already looked like he was going to be a really good high-goal horse and I finished him here in the states. He started playing 20-goal polo at Greenwich Polo Club [Greenwich, Connecticut], when he arrived and he has been playing with me in Wellington, Florida, for the last four seasons.

I knew he would be my best horse the first year I brought him here. I played him for one year in Argentina when he was still green and he was very good, but when he arrived in the U.S. I realized he was going to be great. He already had all the qualities, but he was still a bit green when he first arrived. He just needed more playing experience and he became more developed once he got a bit older.”

What are Cali Marino’s strengths on the field?

“His best qualities are that he is very fast, strong and he doesn’t get tired quickly. In important games many times I play him the entire chukker and he has the same power in the first play as in the last. He also has a great temperament and he’s very comfortable, calm and easy to hit the ball off of.

I’ve won a lot of games playing him in the last chukker, especially because he’s a very good horse to defend on. It’s quite hard for other horses to get by him. In every game he is my best horse and he’s very consistent, performing well nearly every time he plays. I want to play him as often as I can for as long as I can throughout his career.”

Describe his personality.

“In the barn he does whatever he wants and everybody knows he is the best horse in the barn. Every day we go to the barn the grooms and I visit his stall first to see how he’s doing.

At the field he gets nervous and he moves around a lot. It’s not easy because you need three or four grooms to tack him up, but when he gets on the field he is really calm, steady and easy-going.”

Cali Marino poses at Patagones' stable in Wellington, Florida.
Cali Marino poses at Patagones in Wellington, Florida.

Which chukker(s) do you typically play him?

“Regardless if we are winning or losing, I always want to be on Cali Marino in the last chukker of the game. I try to finish the game on him because he’s a horse I have a lot of confidence on and he’s always very steady. He always plays the same in every game and he always performs well. He’s been an important part of every game I’ve played in the last couple of years.”

2018 Silver Cup® BPP
2018 Silver Cup® Best Playing Pony Cali Marino, pictured with Tomas Garcia Del Rio, Luis Rinaldini, Juan Cruz Garcia Del Rio and Nazareno Colanino. ©Katerina Morgan

What are your plans for him after the Florida season concludes?

“He will generally rest for part of the summer and if I compete in the East Coast Open at Greenwich Polo Club, he will come to play. If I don’t play in any important tournaments this summer he will just rest until the 2021 Florida season.”

*Green horse refers to a younger polo pony that is less experienced.