George Nicholaw Passes at 86

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Aug. 12, 2014) – George Nicholaw, a former California racing commissioner who introduced millions of Southern Californians to horse racing by airing stretch calls on the popular news radio station that he managed for 35 years, died early Sunday due to complications from a urinary infection. He was 86.

Mr. Nicholaw was familiar to many who might not have recognized him by sight but knew the entreating, gentle cadence of his voice from hearing his editorial comments on the KNX-AM (1070) news radio station where he served as vice president and general manager from 1967 until 2003.

Long known for his civic involvement, Mr. Nicholaw was appointed to the California Horse Racing Board by Governor Pete Wilson on March 26, 1992. He was reappointed by Governor Wilson in 1996 to a term that expired January 1, 2000. He served as Board vice-chairman from 1998 until he became chairman in 1999.

During his eight years as a racing commissioner, Mr. Nicholaw repeatedly demonstrated his support for the stability of the horse racing industry and his concern for the health and welfare of its workers. He also was an advocate for horseplayers. As chairman of the Pari-Mutuel Operations Committee, he consistently challenged racing associations to improve their product and to make wagering more appealing and accessible to the public.

Following his CHRB service, he continued to help others by serving on the board of the Winners Foundation, an organization that assists racing industry workers and their families in dealing with addictions and other problems.

Mr. Nicholaw is survived by his wife of 50 years, Betty.