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.

Most recent entries

Monthly Archives


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

‘Best horse’ at BC might not be best bet

Arc winner Enable, who is headed toward the Turf, will be the best horse at the Breeders Cup, Nov. 2-3, according to British commentator Nick Luck. She certainly has the credentials as a back-to-back winner of Europe's most prestigious race. But seven previous winners of the Arc, who attempted this double looked pretty potent, too, and none got their picture taken.

Nick Luck, the glib British racing commentator, remarked after coverage of Sunday's Arc that if Enable comes to the Breeders' Classic--it looks like she is-- she will be the best horse at the two-day racing carnival.

No disrespect to Enable but I've heard this before from Euro media--about seven times--going back to Dancing Brave in 1986. He was being touted as the greatest horse in the world from the moment he arrived at Santa Anita until he backed up in the stretch and checked in fourth behind American trio Manila, Theatrical and Estrapade.

Maybe this is the year jinxes in the world's biggest races are broken. Justify took care of the 138-year Curse of Apollo.

Enable might be better positioned than some of her predecessors to become the first to turn the Arc-BC Turf double. For most of the seven previous Arc winners, the Turf was an add-on at the end of a campaign geared toward the Arc. They might not have been over the top but their top effort came in France. The sicknesses and minor ailments Enable endured this year might be a blessing coming into the Turf, which will be only her third start of the season.

Isn't "third off a layoff" supposed to be a horse's best? Masterful trainer John Gosden feels Enable, who he said was only 80 percent for the Arc, will be 100 percent on Nov. 3.

Some Arc winners were compromised by the difference from back home by turf surfaces, especially the West Coast pool tables and tight American turns. Enable has shown she can win on anything. Her Arc prep was on synthetic dirt, for goodness sake.

Finally, there's the caliber of home team opposition. She won't be facing any Manila's or Theatrical's. Ask six racing analysts who America's top grass runner is and you're liable to get a half-dozen different opinions.

All this said, there's always a "but..." Euro journalist Graham Dench pointed out the 2018 Arc was the sixth slowest of the 21st century and the five slower were contested on much deeper ground.

Even accepting Luck's assessment that Enable will be the best horse at the Breeders' Cup, she also will be one of the shortest price favorites.

Caveat emptor.

Golf wiser than racing

What a scintillating couple of weeks we've enjoyed; a dozen and a half Grade 1 races and about that many Grade 2 and Grade 3 events, some of which had Grade 1 caliber fields.

It would have been even better if these championship type events had been spread out over four or five weeks. This is a non-starter, of course, as long as the Breeders' is anchored on the first weekend of November.

It doesn't have to be. A shift to Thanksgiving weekend would be better for tracks such as Belmont, Keeneland and Santa Anita, better for TV ratings because the competition from football would be substantially less and better for fans because so many more would be available on Black Friday,

I know I have raised this issue before but a significant development in sports bolsters my argument. When the promoters of the Tiger Woods-Phil Micklesen $9 million pay-per-view extravaganza went looking for an appropriate date, they settled on the day after Thanksgiving. With all the money at stake you can be sure this was well researched. They concluded this date provided the most potential viewers--at a price, no less.

What further evidence do you need?

Good intentions not enough

You know what the road to Hell is paved with. Recent well intended gestures at Belmont and Keeneland (and I suppose other tracks I don’t monitor closely) are a serious disservice to players.

Belmont a week ago and Keeneland this past Saturday abandoned for a few races the colored saddle cloths racing fans have come to rely upon to follow their horses. Churchill Downs does it on Kentucky Oaks Day. I have no idea why Keeneland did it, probably to appease a race sponsor. Belmont went to pink, presumably to call attention to breast cancer awareness.

This is as worthy a cause as there could be. But couldn't they find another way?

At simulcast sites, the new backbone of racing, the single hue makes it impossible to separate the field, especially since many do not turn up the sound to avoid a racing tower of Babel.

I was in a knot of people watching the Shadwell Turf Mile at a poorly run simulcast facility, a place where big screens haven't been discovered. Even on the gallop out, there were arguments about which horse it was who had crossed the line first as well as those who filled out the vertical exotics.

This is another example of tracks totally ignoring the needs of fans. It's praiseworthy to try to do a goodthing but not when it entails doing the wrong thing for the people you depend upon.

Boo hoo!

When I first read the following item I thought it was a spoof, like something The Onion would publish. But it’s the real deal.

The stewards at Santa Anita included in their latest minutes of rulings for the previous week mention of something you would think they would be too embarrassed to bring up.

The track is no longer supplying them with free Racing Forms. According to the item, The Stronach Group CEO Tim Ritvo told them he was concerned about the price of the four Racing Forms sent to the stewards’ stand daily.

For you and I, this would come to about $40 a day, $10 apiece (I was clipped $10.50 last Saturday). At the price Santa Anita pays for Forms, it would be about half that.

This seems so petty and out of character for Ritvo that there has to be an interesting backstory. So far, no one has gotten to the bottom of it. Maybe it has something to do with the internal squabble within the Stronach family over money that I suspect you will be hearing a lot about in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, a racing website established by the Los Angeles Times jokingly suggested creating a GoFundMe page to pay for the stewards’ Forms. Anyone want to contribute?

Written by Tom Jicha

Comments (16)


Page 1 of 1 pages