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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Thursday, September 07, 2017


When is something going to be done about ‘The Juice Man’?


Jorge Navarro has accomplished some amazing feats this summer at Monmouth. A video available, which has gone viral, suggests more than good horsemanship might be involved. One of his owners, who has won with eight of 12 recent starters, is seen shouting at a racetrack monitor as one of his horses gets home, 'The Juice Man. We f—k everyone and I line my pockets.' If this doesn't call for a thorough investigation into Navarro's methods, it's hard to imagine what might.


Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the South Florida command post of Horse Race Insider, so it’s uncertain when we will be able to communicate again. As an almost half-century Floridian, I have managed through numerous hurricanes and hurricane scares. This one is like no other. Remember us and the horses who give us such pleasure in your prayers.

Three or four days before its scheduled landfall, Gulfstream has canceled the entire weekend of racing.

John and I are hoping for no disruptions. Just in case, there are things I want to say before they become old news.

Pardon me if I don’t get excited about Jorge Navarro, a Gulfstream regular, breaking his own record for wins at Monmouth Park. I’ve said often that any trainer who wins at a 30% or more rate over a period of time belongs either in the Hall of Fame or a jail cell. Navarro might be totally clean and just better than legends Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Charlie Whittingham, Bobby Frankel and contemporary super trainers Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown.

However, there is a video that has gone as viral as any racing video can go. Navarro and one of his owners, Randall Gindi, are seen at Monmouth rooting home one of Gindi’s horses. Gindi, who gives all the appearances of being one of those loud, obnoxious guys you try to avoid at the track, is seen screaming as his horse wins, “The Juice Man. We f—k everyone and I line my pockets.” Gindi has won with eight of his 12 horses since the beginning of August. (Google Jorge Navarro and “juice” and you can see it for yourself.)

This appears to be as incriminating as a video can be. Yet Monmouth has taken no action that has been made public. To the contrary, Navarro has been celebrated for his record-breaking season.

Richard Dutrow got 10 years on a lot flimsier evidence.

Pegasus II will happen--Ritvo

Tim Ritvo is a little miffed at the media and some within racing over doom and gloom predictions regarding the second running of the Pegasus.

Contrary to published reports, seven entities, not four, have committed to the 2018 edition, which will go on as scheduled on Jan. 27, according to Ritvo. He didn't name names and seven is not the 12 needed to fuel the $16 million purse (The Stronach Group is kicking in $4 million) but there are still more than five months to the race, TSG’s chief operating officer said. He expressed confidence a full dozen will be in place in plenty of time.

Ritvo said he can’t understand why people in racing, most notably the connections of Gun Runner, who would be a solid favorite to capture the $7 million first money, would want to bad mouth the race and effectively sabotage it by encouraging others not to ante up.

“You would think they would want the race to go,” Ritvo said.

He emphasized that the true cost to an owner is less than a half-million dollars, since the minimum a participant will earn is $550,000. Unlike last year, when all the also-rans took home the same $250,000, the rewards will be stepped this time. Exact distribution hasn’t been finalized, according to Ritvo, but some will earn $550,000, some $600,000, some a little more. The $7 million first prize is chiseled in stone.

He suggested a scenario in which a horse like Gun Runner, whose owners didn’t commit, could be frozen out of the field. The other owners could decide they all have a better chance at the big money if none of them make a deal for a berth for Gun Runner.

This is a bit of salesmanship on Ritvo’s part and an effort to respond to the biggest hurdle of the Pegasus. Berths were for sale or barter at cut-rate prices last year, so prospective participants have to be convinced that if they don’t get in early, they might not get in at all.

On the other hand, does Gulfstream really want to stage the world’s richest race without the horse ranked the world’s best on dirt? NBC is still committed to the Pegasus, so there certainly would be pressure brought to bear to get Gun Runner into the field.

Post time for the next race: Soon

Gulfstream’s post dragging has devolved to ridiculous lengths. Three-minute delays became four, then five, then six or more on a routine basis. Last Saturday, a division of the Florida Sire Stakes went off 10 minutes after the post.

Las Vegas race books and I suppose some simulcasting sites, which have numerous TV monitors geared to various tracks, have a practice of moving races about to go to a large central monitor. Because of the post drags, which the books apparently have not caught on to, Gulfstream gets more time on the big screen than any other track.

How much this induces people to bet is a matter of conjecture. It can’t hurt. During my recent vacation in Sin City I noticed players on line to bet other tracks giving a quick check to the Gulfstream PP’s and making a bet they otherwise might not have made. Maybe this is the method to the post-dragging madness.

This isn’t to say it doesn’t annoy some bettors. One Saturday afternoon, Gulfstream went up on the big screen because there were zero minutes to post. Del Mar, the most popular option out west, had four minutes to post. The Gulfstream horses were still doing the Tijuana Twirl as the Del Mar field loaded.

There was almost an insurrection as players screamed, “Del Mar! Del Mar!” to the unseen wizard behind the curtain. The switch was made just as the Del Mar field broke.

To illustrate how absurd the post-dragging at Gulfstream has become, the Del Mar race was completed, the “official” was posted, the winning jockey had dismounted and had his picture taken and there was still time to put Gulfstream back on the big screen for the actual race.

Maybe Gulfstream should change its policy. Instead of Pete Aiello announcing how many minutes there are to the next post, which nobody takes seriously anymore, he should just say, “Post time for the next race…in a little while.”


Written by Tom Jicha

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