Romacaca’s victory closes out season on high note for jockey Paco Lopez

Romacaca won the season’s final stakes race at Gulfstream, capping a strong year for jockey Paco Lopez and trainer Nick Canani.

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Romacaca beat Trip for A.J. by 1¼ lengths in the $75,000 Capital Request Stakes on Sunday, the closing day of the racing season at Gulfstream Park.
Romacaca was forced to steady between rivals several times in the 11/16 mile turf race for fillies and mares.

In a photo provided by Gulfstream Park, Romacaca, right with jockey Paco Lopez, wins the eighth horse race of the day, Sunday, April 24, 2011, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. Trip For A. J, left,. was second with Cornelio Velasquez aboard. (AP Photo/Gulfstream Park)

She was fifth coming around the final turn but then weaved her way through traffic to gain her second win in two starts at the Gulfstream meet. She was timed in 1:44.50 under Paco Lopez.
Romacaca’s win ended a strong season for Lopez, her trainer Nick Canani and owner Frank Calabrese.
Lopez led Gulfstream jockeys in victories for the second season in a row. He rode 83 winners, followed by John Velazquez with 65.

Canani trained 31 winners, placing him second to Todd Pletcher who had 48. Pletcher now has led Gulfstream trainers in victories for eight consecutive seasons. Calabrese led owners with 33 wins.
Following the Capital Request, jockey Eibar Coa presented the championship trophy to Lopez.
Coa broke his C-4 vertebrae in a spill during a Gulfstream race on Feb. 18.

Doctors at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood originally diagnosed Coa as a quadriplegic. But following treatment, he was able to walk out of the hospital when he was released on April 14.
“I feel like I have had a second opportunity to just be alive,” said Coa, who is receiving out-patient rehabilitation. “I went down doing what I love to do. So just having the opportunity to come back to the track made my day.”

Gulfstream had three other $75,000 stakes on Sunday.

Stay Red won the Island Whirl, at 11/16 miles on turf for 3-year-olds and up.
Close it Out won the Shake You Down, at seven furlongs on dirt for 3-year-olds. Devilish Lady won the Cherokee Frolic, at seven furlongs on dirt for 3-year-old fillies.