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Tom Jicha

Tom Jicha grew up in New York City and worked with John Pricci at the short-lived revival of the New York Daily Mirror. Tom moved to Miami in 1972 for a position in the sports department at the now defunct Miami News.

Tom became the TV critic in 1980 and moved to the South Florida Sun Sentinel in 1988. All the while he has kept his hand in sports, including horse racing. He has covered two Super Bowls, a World Series and the Breeders’ Cup at Gulfstream Park.

He's been the Sun Sentinel’s horse racing writer since 2007 as a staff member, and continues to this day as a free-lancer.

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Saturday, December 07, 2013


Out-of-towners enjoy a big day in South Florida


Eleven stakes races were run Saturday in South Florida, the eight Claiming Crown events at Gulfstream as well as a pair of Grade 3's and a listed stakes at Calder. It was the most ever in one day in South Florida and shippers dominated, winning eight of them.

MIAMI, Dec. 7, 2013--People come to the Miami area for the sun and surf. Horses from all over the East and Midwest came for the cash on Saturday, the biggest stakes day ever in terms of numbers.
Eleven added-money races, eight Claiming Crown heats at Gulfstream and two Grade 3’s and a listed stakes at Calder were the most ever in one day locally. South Florida based horses generally do well in these situations. Not Saturday. Horses shipping in took home the money eight times.

It didn’t seem as if this was going to be the case early on. The first two Claiming Crown events, the Iron Lady and Glass Slipper, were won by Carolina Lizard and Centrique, respectively. Both had made their most recent starts at Calder.

Carolina Lizard was the day’s shocker at 35-1. If you had the presence of mind to use her in Gulfstream’s one-day-only, 10-cent Ultimate Eight, it wasn’t that difficult to come up with the rest for a $60,000 payoff.

The longest prices in the rest of the sequence were a pair of 5-1 shots. Three odds-on horses did their jobs as well as 8-5 and 7-2 shots.

Marty Wolfson, who’s lethal in South Florida stakes, ran 1-2 in the Glass Slipper but that was it for the home team at Gulfstream.

John Henry will always be the claim of the ages but Ribo Bobo is a 21st century version. Claimed by Jason Servis for $6,250 last March, the same price he had lost him for one race previously, Ribo Bobo won for the 10th time in 11 starts in 2013 in the Express. His only loss was in his most recent start at Penn National when he was beaten by multiple stakes winner Ben’s Cat.

Only someone having the kind of year Ken Ramsey is enjoying could win a pair of $125,000 stakes and have it described as a disappointing afternoon. Ramsey led Deanaallen’skitten, last seen at Aqueduct, into the winner’s circle for the Tiara and Major Marvel, who had won his sixth in a row at Churchill Downs, for the Emerald.

But this was only half as many as a year ago, when he won four Claiming Crown races and had a second and third in two others.

Ramsey tried to one-up himself with five starters but his Be Brave ran sixth behind Parx shipper Goodtimehadbyall in the Rapid Transit; Brother Bird was a distant seventh in the Iron Horse won by Indiana ship-in Point Finish and Bernie the Maestro was a disappointing sixth as the favorite in the Jewel, won by Aqueduct shipper Nevada Kid, ridden by Luis Saez. Earlier in the afternoon Saez had won the Fred W. Hooper with Csaba at Calder eight miles to the west.

Csaba saved the day for the locals as Speaking of Which, coming in from the Big A, and Valiant Girl, last seen at Keeneland, took the Tropical Turf Handicap and My Charmer, respectively.

For Csaba it was his ninth win in 12 Calder starts, including all three this year. "He’s a monster here,” jubilant trainer Phil Gleaves said.

You think?



Written by Tom Jicha

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