Clem Florio, a retired Turf writer and handicapper, died of pancreatic cancer May 25 in Hollywood, Fla. He was 78.
Florio wrote for the Miami News before signing on with the Baltimore News American in 1969. He also served as a handicapper for the Washington Post and as an odds maker at Pimlico and Laurel.
Born in Queens, N.Y., and raised near Aqueduct, Florio quit school as a teenager and became a boxer. Switching professions later on, he worked as a groom for James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons when the future Hall of Famer had the great Nashua in his barn. Florio handled Nashua in the early stages of the colt’s 2-year-old season. Nashua also became a Hall of Famer.
As a Maryland racing writer, Florio became a part of the Secretariat legend. While sitting in the Aqueduct press box and seeing Secretariat win in his second start, Florio loudly declared that he had just seen next year’s Kentucky Derby winner. Secretariat not only went on to win the 1973 Run for the Roses but become the first Triple Crown winner since Citation in 1948.
Florio’s survivors include a son and three daughters.