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, February 24, 2019

TimeFormUS Kentucky Derby Ratings: Crowded at the Top

Efforting to add more meaningful content to, aka the “Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing,” HRI is proud to introduce the 10 fastest 2019 Kentucky Derby prospects as assessed by Craig Milkowski, Chief Speed-Figures maker for TimeformUS.

For the uninitiated, Milkowski is a well-respected professional observer of the racing scene and also a practitioner, known for his treatises on incorrectly published final and fractional times at racetracks around the country, especially hand-timed turf races, setting the record straight.

Milkowski’s work, along with that of TimeformUS colleague David Aragona, is an attempt to make the game better for everyone by interpreting and tweaking available data. His work has been a positive contribution for US horseplayers big and small.

What separates TimeformUS figures from many other leaders in the field of speed-figures is a methodology that includes a pace element--indicating an ability rating given disparate race-dynamics scenarios.

Everyone knows that a slow pace will adversely affect the final overall figure for competitors in a particular race. What Milkowski’s pace-adjusted figures accomplish is a measured projection of capability under different circumstances.

Indeed, pace does make the race. is proud to share Milkowski’s assessment of this year’s three-year-old class, the fastest 10 three-year-olds as rated by TimeFormUS. It is presented here as a stand-alone rating.

Milkowski has agreed to provide ratings for the HRI Derby Power 10 beginning next weekend in addition to his own. HRI Derby poll points reflects HRI staff and contributor opinions in the aggregate.

Thanks Craig, and welcome aboard!

John Pricci, executive editor

By Craig Milkowski

The following are the top 10 TimeformUS Speed Figures run so far by horses eligible for the 2019 Kentucky Derby on dirt or a synthetic surface. Turf races are excluded as none offer Derby qualifying points. Similarly, we assessed races run at one mile or longer. The list does include two year old races of 2018.

1) Not That Brady 119
New York bred gelding has two wins and two seconds in his last four starts, all at Aqueduct. His last was his best race yet, finishing second to Tax in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes. Paranthetically, TimeformUS includes pace as part of its speed figure so the winner doesn’t always get the best number--as can be seen by the 118 assigned Tax further down the list.

2) Vekoma 119
Ran his big number last out as a two-year-old in the G3 Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct. He has been working steadily at Palm Beach Downs and is pointing towards Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. It will be his two-turn debut.

3) Hidden Scroll 119
Freaked first time out over a sloppy track on debut at Gulfstream. Also looking to the Fountain of Youth Stakes for his first start around two turns.

4) Our Braintrust 118
Another that exits the rapidly run Withers, finishing a neck back in third while well clear of the rest of the field. (Equibase does not show any workouts since his last start. His next target is questionable as of this post).

5) Complexity 118
Blitzed the G1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont before fading badly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He only recently began working for his three-year-old debut and it would be a surprising if this one were pointed towards the Derby.

6) Tax 118
Impressive winner of the aforementioned Withers which followed his good third in the G2 Remsen at 2. Former claimer has really improved with Lasix. Next start likely will be either Aqueduct's Wood Memorial or Oaklawn's Rebel Stakes.

7) Improbable 117
Undefeated in three starts, Bob Baffert trainee is scheduled to make his three-year-old debut in Santa Anita's San Felipe Stakes. He crushed stablemate Mucho Gusto by five lengths in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity in December.

8) Trophy Chaser 117
This one has run second in his last two starts, both ungraded stakes. He hasn’t worked in over a month, according to Equibase.

9) Kentucky Wildcat 116

Finished second in Tampa's Sam F. Davis after earning his big number breaking maiden in his prior start. Unfortunately, the horse was injured in that race and is off the Derby trail.

10) Game Winner 116

The Juvenile Eclipse champion has yet to run this year and is being pointed to the San Felipe, possibly along with stablemate Improbable (see rating above), according to the Daily Racing Form Derby Watch.


Written by Mark Berner

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