Venezuelan, Former Veterinarian Lichoa Saddles First Gulfstream Stakes Winner

Alfredo Lichoa had always been around horses, from his time as a veterinarian in Venezuela to his years spent as a farm manager and thoroughbred consultant in Ocala.

But it wasn’t until Saturday that the 56-year-old trainer recorded his first stakes victory when Lady Alida won the $75,000 Treasure Coast at Gulfstream Park at odds of 18-1.

“I just started training in May of last year,” Lichoa said after his 4-year-old filly took the lead out of the gate in the one mile turf event and held off Una Luna by a half-length. “I always paid attention to the training and one day I decided to do it.”

Lichoa’s patience with Lady Alida paid off. When Lichoa took over as her trainer late last year, he said she had “little problems” that took time to correct. Unsure of her ability, he entered her in a dirt race for $8,000 claimers at Tampa Bay Downs in February. She finished fourth. But when he started racing her on grass one month later, Lady Alida blossomed into a consistent contender, finishing no worse than fourth in six of her eight turf starts heading into Saturday.

“One day I tried her on the turf and I went ‘Wow,’” Lichoa said. “And once we started putting her on the turf, you can see the numbers.”

Saturday’s race was her 10th this year, but first in stakes company. While bettors dismissed her in the Treasure Coast, Lichoa oozed confidence.

“I told everybody that this was my best shot ever,” he said.

Those who listened to Lichoa were rewarded handsomely.

With jockey Leonel Reyes in the irons, Lady Alida surged to the front out of the gate and maintained her lead all the way to the wire. Una Luna was second, with Birdie Gold taking third.

It was an emotional scene in the winner’s circle as Lichoa celebrated his first stakes win with owner SJT Racing Stables.

Now he said he’ll map out a plan with the filly but expects to keep her in South Florida.

“We’ll keep going one step at a time,” he said. “She’s doing better every day.”

The post Venezuelan, Former Veterinarian Lichoa Saddles First Gulfstream Stakes Winner appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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