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 Sentinels horse racing writer since 2007 as a staff member, and continues to this day as a free-lancer.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Noble Indy barely cracks HRI status quo DERBY 10

By Tom Jicha

The boss is out of town so there’s a new but familiar voice today. But John Pricci, who collected big on the Louisiana Derby (check Feature Race Analysis), still weighed in on his thoughts on the race.

“Turned out the Risen Star was a live race and the blinkers did the trick for Noble Indy. Already having qualified, Bravazo got some exercise, as did My Boy Jack, who returned on short rest off a peak effort and acquitted himself very well for third.”

I’ll file another view on My Boy Jack.

He looked like he was going to sweep past Noble Indy and Lone Sailor (John’s ticket maker) in the final eighth but he hung like Tom Dooley. He didn’t strike me as a horse who wants 10 furlongs against top completion and unless he finds another race to score some points, he might not even make the field.

None of last week’s Top 10 raced this weekend, so there isn’t a lot of movement in this week’s Horse Race Insider poll.

1. Bolt d’Oro (48)—The stewards thought he was best in the San Felipe but there are plenty of dissenting opinions. None are among our staff. Once again, he’s the unanimous choice as No. 1. He’ll get his opportunity to show we and the judges are right in his April 7 rematch with McKinzie.

2. McKinzie (36)—Can he please have a race where the outcome is decided on the track? He got put up in a questionable call in the Los Alamitos Futurity then got taken down under dubious circumstances in the San Felipe. Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia told Horse Racing Nation that if he had to set the Kentucky Derby morning line right now, McKinzie would be the favorite.

3. Magnum Moon (30)
—If Todd Pletcher sticks to his game plan, a debate as lively as the one between Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie will be settled at least for the time being on April 14 in the Arkansas Derby when he and Justify go mano y mano.

4. Good Magic (26)
—Amazing how the 2-year-old champion has fallen out of the conversation after one disappointing race in which Chad Brown said beforehand that he wasn’t fully cranked. Brown’s target is the first Saturday in May, not the first Saturday in February. Doubting the Chadster is not a high percentage move.

5. Promises Fulfilled (19)
—Dale Romans said the other day that the Fountain of Youth winner is three lengths away from being the undefeated Derby favorite. That was his margin of defeat in the Kentucky Jockey Club, which is turning into one of the key juvenile races of 2017. It’s a bit of an overstatement by Romans considering those at the top but this is not a colt to be taken lately. We’ll see Saturday in the Florida Derby.

6. Enticed (17)--One turn miles at Aqueduct in the winter aren’t reliable gauges for 10 furlongs in May at Churchill Downs but his runaway Gotham was the fifth stakes win for horses coming out of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He’s the likely favorite in the Wood unless Solomini shows up.

7. Justify (16)--It took only Magnum Moon’s romp in the Rebel to drop him down as the most likely 3-year-old to break the 168-year curse of Apollo. Those who jumped off his bandwagon are overlooking the fact that his two races are considerably faster than Magnum Moon’s. I placed him fourth; my colleagues aren’t as impressed.

8. Solomini (11)
—He didn’t get the best of rides in the Rebel when beaten by Magnum Moon. Supposedly Bob Baffert intends to ship him to New York for the Wood. If he does, it will provide the best gauge yet on how the West Coast horses shape up against the East.

9. Audible (10)
—The jury is out until this coming Saturday on whether his front-running score in the Holy Bull was track-aided by the typical speed-favoring Gulfstream strip. But it isn’t like he opened up and held on. He put away a big challenge by Grade 1 winner Free Drop Billy at the top on the lane and was opening up late. He gets another chance to prove himself in the Florida Derby.

10. Noble Indy (8)-
-He barely cracks the Top 10, a reflection of the caliber of the competition at the Fair Grounds. He might be only Todd Pletcher’s third best hope for back-to-back roses. I’ll let the boss sum it up. “In the overall, the reputation of the acknowledged divisional leaders went unscathed as a result of this race."

Written by Tom Jicha

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