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Romacaca proves best in South Beach

Romacaca was determined to reach the wire first in the South Beach (Courtney Heeney/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Frank C. Calabrese's Romacaca got up by a neck to capture the $100,000 South Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Sunday. The six-year-old mare was made the 3-1 favorite despite being off for more than two months and paid $8.40, $5 and $3.20 to her backers.

"She's just a nice mare," trainer Danny Miller said. "All you have to do is take good care of her and keep her healthy. She likes to run. I think it's easier on her to run her longer. She can relax more, but she ran really well today.

"She's been 60 days between races and had gone down to the sale," he added, referring to when Romacaca RNAed for $245,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale. "I lost some training time with her when she was down at the sale. We love her. We loved her when we had her before. She's just such a professional. She's such a delight to have in the stable. We just love her."

Romacaca was in contention early in the South Beach as she was within two lengths of pacesetter and eventual eighth-place finisher Frontside, who posted fractions of :23 3/5, :46 3/5 and 1:10 2/5. The dark bay mare came four wide into the stretch and just got up for her 10th stakes win, covering 7 1/2 furlongs over the firm turf in 1:29 1/5 with Francisco Torres aboard.

"She did everything within herself and all I did was try to keep her out of trouble," Torres said. "She worked so well here the other morning so I was very excited to ride her today. We broke sharp and I had a little speed on the outside and inside. Going seven-eighths of a mile you'll see more horses showing a little more tactical speed than you would going a mile and a sixteenth and a mile and an eighth, so I let her fall out of there and place herself where she was comfortable. When it was time to call on her she quickened up and prevailed."

Beaten out by a neck was runner-up Chokurei. Hooh Why was another three-quarters of a length back in third. Senza Rete, Callmethesqueeze, Assateague, Sisterhood, Frontside, Whipsaw City, Affair Dabbler, Much Rejoicing, Safe Crossing and Button Girl rounded out the order of finish. Golden Mystery was listed as main-track only and didn't draw into the field.

Romacaca was coming off a victory in the Indian Maiden Handicap at Hawthorne. Winner of the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap at Arlington Park back in July, the daughter of Running Stag followed up that performance with a disappointing seventh in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes on August 18, also at Arlington. She strung together five straight wins last season, including the Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes, and was third in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Stake to close out 2011.

With back-to-back stakes victories the six-year-old mare increased her lifetime earnings to $926,992 and has a career mark which reads 32-16-6-4.

Bred in Florida by Cashel Stud Inc., Romacaca is the first registered foal out of the Kris S. mare Romaca, and counts as her fourth dam Hail Maggie, an unraced full sister to Franco-American champion Trillion. Hail Maggie, herself the dam of Grade 1 hero Sabona, also factors as the ancestress of French classic winner Landseer.

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