12/07/2012 1:59PM

Gulfstream Park: South Beach favorite Romacaca must cope with lots of other early speed

Four-Footed Fotos
The projected pace scenario in Sunday's South Beach does not work in Romacaca's favor.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla – From a handicapping standpoint, three facts immediately stand out when assessing Sunday’s $100,000 South Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Fact one, Romacaca is the class of the field. Fact two, there is a ton of speed in the lineup. Fact three, Romacaca just happens to be one of those speed horses. And that’s the fact that has Danny Miller, who trains Romacaca for owner Frank Calabrese, a little bit concerned.

Romacaca will carry high weight of 123 pounds, including jockey Francisco Torres, under the allowance conditions of the South Beach as a result of her victory in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap this past summer at Arlington Park. The Modesty is one of three wins on the season for Romacaca, who also captured the Grade 3 Matchmaker last year at Monmouth Park.

“I think she’s a little better than the horses she’ll be facing in this race. That’s why she’s carrying high weight, because she’s the only one in the field to have won a Grade 3 this year,” said Miller. “But having all that speed in there with her has got to be a concern, especially speed going 7 1/2 furlongs. But if she can get outside the other speed horses and Cisco can get her to settle, I don’t think it will matter.”

Miller said the South Beach is an important race for Romacaca because it will set her up for her first major goal of 2013, the rich Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf on Jan. 19. Romacaca finished second behind Hooh Why in the same race earlier this year.

“She went into the Sunshine Millions last year off a layoff and she finished second,” said Miller. “This time I really want her to go in with a race under her belt.”

Hooh Why is one of 13 fillies and mares entered against Romacaca in the South Beach. The well-traveled 6-year-old Hooh Why finished second at 40-1 in this event a year ago to Thai Haku and has the ability to win from off the pace as she did when rallying to upset the Sunshine Millions in January.

Romacaca figures to be part of the early mix in the South Beach with Button Girl, Frontside, Safe Crossing, and Whipsaw City.

Button Girl led throughout to post a 1 1/2-length, second-level optional $50,000 claiming win going seven furlongs in her last start at Belmont Park while equipped in blinkers for the first time by trainer Ralph Nicks.

Frontside captured a pair of turf stakes in wire-to-wire fashion this past summer at Indiana Downs and Mountaineer and won her maiden over the local course using similar tactics during the spring of 2011.

Safe Crossing has been on the lead in each of her last four starts going two turns on grass, winning two of those races, including a high-priced optional claimer at Delaware Park in her last start.

Whipsaw City won each of her first two U.S. starts here last winter and was stakes-placed going seven furlongs over the Belmont turf in each of her last two outings.

A hot pace would enhance the chances of not only Hooh Why but late runners Callmethesqueeze and Affair Dabbler.

Callmethesqueeze rallied to a six-length victory going 7 1/2 furlongs in Calder’s Hollywood Wildcat Stakes in one of her rare appearances on grass this season. In her last start, she finished fifth in Calder’s Grade 3 My Charmer. She was pushed very wide entering the stretch, and then flattened out late while trying to stretch out to nine furlongs.

Affair Dabbler posted back-to-back, come-from-behind wins this past summer at Arlington Park and also owns a victory over the local course.