George Nicholaw, a former California racing commissioner, died Aug. 10 due to complications of an infection. He was 86.
Nicholaw introduced millions of Southern Californians to horse racing by airing stretch calls on the popular news radio station KNX-AM, which he managed for 35 years—from 1967 until 2003.
Long known for his civic involvement, Nicholaw was appointed in 1992 to the California Horse Racing Board by Gov. Pete Wilson. He was reappointed by Wilson in 1996 to a term that expired Jan. 1, 2000. He served as board vice chairman from 1998 until he became chairman in 1999.
During his eight years as a racing commissioner, Nicholaw repeatedly demonstrated his support for the stability of the horse racing industry and his concern for the health and welfare of its workers. 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, Nicholaw served on the board of the Winners Foundation, an organization that assists racing industry workers and their families in dealing with addictions and other problems.
Nicholaw is survived by his wife of 50 years, Betty.