Harvest Hill's Scott Arnold demonstrates how to hit from the deep rough.
June 19, 2013 - 1:39 AM
June 14, 2013 - 7:46 AM
By Gene Kershner
Palace Malice put a wrap on the 2013 Triple Crown with emphasis last Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park, making it a year with three different Classic winners and leaving the 3-year-old division wide open heading into the summer. The next few months should be interesting at Monmouth Park (Pegasus and Haskell) and Saratoga Race Course (Jim Dandy and Travers) where the division should start to sort itself out.
Some thoughts about the Triple Crown and other recent racing events, as we sit exactly five weeks away from opening day at the Spa…
- This year's Triple Crown was all "old school" with venerable connections winning all three Classics. The Phipps and Janney connections in the Derby; Lukas, Stevens and Calumet in the Preakness; and Cot Campbell and Dogwood Stables capturing the Test of a Champion.
- It's way too early to write off this class. The fact that weather impaired the Derby and a slow pace dogged the horses in the Preakness, means some of the sophomores have a chance to step up during the summer. We'll find out soon enough on two competitors, Itsmyluckyday and Verrazano, two solid horses heading into the Triple Crown, right away as they face off in the Pegasus on Saturday at Monmouth.
- Mylute was my unheralded colt of the Triple Crown season. With the right pace scenario in the Preakness, he had a chance to be right there with the frontrunners. Rosie Napravnik did all she could in the second jewel, but could only rally for third and she certainly was one of the few horses still running when finishing fifth in the Derby.
- Speaking of Napravnik, she had Unlimited Budget in perfect position to win the Belmont, but her distance limitations caught up to her. Give Rosie credit for having her where she needed to be coming down the stretch, she just didn't have any horse left.
- Kudos to NYRA vice-president of facilities and racing surfaces Glen Kozak, whose crew had the main track in tip-top shape Saturday after being pounded with as much as five inches of rain Friday into Saturday morning. “Glen did an outstanding job of maintaining the track,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “It wasn’t over-harrowed … those guys did a remarkable job. It was a good, safe track after [all that]
- Will we ever seea Triple Crown winner? I think we will. If you look at the last 16 years, there have been seven horses that have captured the first two legs, before faltering in New York. That's pretty phenomenal when you consider it's been 35 years since Affirmed captured all three legs. A horse will come along sooner or later that will seal the deal. Book it.
- A jockey that was missed during the Triple Crown season, Ramon Dominguez, called it quits yesterday after his physicians recommended that he stop riding after an injury suffered earlier in the year. He was a tremendous jockey who has owned the New York Racing Association meetings over the past two years and was a valiant competitor in the irons.
- The Breeders' Cup announced this week that they will hold the 2014 annual two-day event at Santa Anita Park, making it the third straight year it will be held at the Great Race Place. Seems to me that when the Cup was created the thought was to move the event around to showcase thoroughbred racing in different venues around the country. While I'm not too disappointed that I get to spend a few days in southern California in November, I'm sure racing fans on the east coast aren't too happy. Through 2014, it will make seven Cups being held at either Santa Anita or Churchill Downs. The last track to hold it other than those two was Monmouth Park in 2007, the first year the event was expanded to two days. Of course, the power of money makes these decisions much easier and with the loss of sponsorships in recent years probably contributed greatly to the decision to remain in LA.
- Over the next few weeks our attention will be turned towards our neighbors to the north as the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown is slated for Sunday, July 7 at Woodbine Racetrack and the Queen's Plate. Last weekend saw the Mark Casse-trained Dynamic Sky, a colt who spent some time on the Derby trail, take the Plate Trial and a promising filly, Nipissing win the Woodbine Oaks. Stay tuned to the Sports, Ink blog as we take you up through this year's edition of the Plate.Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.
June 13, 2013 - 1:07 PM
There are seven races coming up on Saturday. All right, a Saturday in June usually offers a good chance of top-notch weather, so it's easy to see why the field is crowded. But next week, there's only one race on Saturday and Sunday, and it's in Lewiston. The following week, there's one Saturday/Sunday race, and it's the half-marathon in Orchard Park.
In other words, a great many races will be competing for a sliver of the market this week. If they had waited a week or two, they might have done a lot better in terms of attendance. There's probably a lesson there, particularly for new events.
Here's the weekend schedule, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:
* OLSH 5K, 3148 Abbott Road in Orchard Park, 6 p.m. Thursday, 445-5022. The description mentions "intermittent hills," a refreshing change from a world where every single course is fast and flat - even when it isn't.
* Ripley's Race to Wellness, 1 Park Ave. in Ripley, 8:30 a.m. Saturday, 736-2631 x240.
* Warm Up for Relay 5K, 491 High St. in Lockport, 9 a.m. Saturday, 478-4836.
* Red Devil Run for Recovery, 5K, 9365 Clarence Center Road, 9 a.m. Saturday, 634-9565.
* Run Along Jericho Road 5K, 184 Barton St. in Buffalo , 9 a.m. Saturday, 348-3000 x405. Broadcasters know this address as the former homes of Channel 2 and Channel 17. The course sounds like it should be fun and different, since not too many races are staged over there.
* Trooper Brinkerhoff 5K, Boston Town Park, 10 a.m. Saturday, 604-8949.
* Moving Towards a Cure for Brain Tumors 5K Run, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 727-781-4673.
* Love Everybody 5K, 250 Northwood Ave. in West Seneca, 6 p.m. Saturday, 771-3076. It's a new race in a rare Saturday night slot, and organizers have been working hard for months on it. Applications were approaching 400 at last look, so someone is doing something right.
--- Budd Bailey
June 13, 2013 - 10:57 AM
By Jay Skurski
Constant rain this morning has forced the cancellation of the second round of the first-ever Women's Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club.
The tournament will now be reduced from 54 to 36 holes, with the final round beginning at 8 a.m. Friday.
"Unfortunately, we had to cancel today," said tournament director Brian Oakley. "It's unplayable."
Players will go off in threesomes Friday morning, with the final group, including leader Cassie Cathrea, teeing off at 10 a.m.
June 11, 2013 - 11:35 PM
The Buffalo Bandits may be better in 2014 than they were in 2013. They may be worse. They'll definitely be different.
The news about the departure of Darris Kilgour on Monday was shocking but not surprising, if you know what I mean. When a team goes on a six-game losing streak and is the only team in the league to miss the playoffs, the coach obviously is a likely target. In some sports, waiting six weeks to make such a decision would be odd, but indoor lacrosse works under a different clock.
Still, Kilgour was a public face of the franchise. Except for a brief break more than a decade ago, he's been with the team since Day One as either a player or head coach. Yes, John Tavares has been with the team non-stop, but Kilgour has been more visible as the coach and major spokesman to the media. Kilgour also brought an aggressive style of play to the team that had its good points (the Bandits were always tough to play against) and bad points (sometimes that spilled into bad penalties). But until the past few seasons, the Bandits always won.
There have been rumors of front office disharmony throughout the season. Kilgour shot down any talk of problems with general manager Steve Dietrich, but said he didn't agree on some issues over the years with Director Dave Zygaj. And we know who wins that type of argument, ultimately - the boss, one way or another.
Any Bandits coach and general manager has a different sort of pressure than many teams in the National Lacrosse League. Many of the other franchises are worried about staying afloat and not losing money. The Bandits, as well as Colorado, draw about 15,000 per game. That means they're certain to keep playing from year to year, but they also need to keep the turnstiles humming by winning.
Was that a factor in some of the Bandits' personnel decisions? Hard to know from the outside. Certainly, though, the Bandits were quick to give up high draft choices in trades for veterans, especially at a time when the league was getting younger and more athletic by the year. In other words, the deals sending first-round picks for players like Tom Montour and Tracey Kelusky haven't worked out as well as was hoped.
So now what? The first phone call probably goes to Tavares, so he can be asked, "Have you made a decision on playing next year?" followed by "Are you interested in becoming a coach?" If he wants the job, it would be tough to turn him down.
Troy Cordingley is an obvious candidate, with many Buffalo connections and a proven track record as a winner. He is the current NLL coach of the year. One catch - Cordingley and Kilgour do bring the same intensity to the game, and it's easy to wonder if a different approach might be appropriate for the Bandits after 11 years of Kilgour's fire.
Speaking of that, Rich Kilgour certainly would offer a more relaxed approach if he were moved up to head coach. He knows the game, and is a head coach in summer ball. Rich has the type of personality that creates a level of warmth. Still, it's hard to picture him taking over the Bandits - if only because of family loyalty.
From there, who knows? There are plenty of people out there with coachng experience, and the job certainly will attract plenty of phone calls. Lacrosse is a small world where everyone knows everyone, and Dietrich like any GM probably had a list of coaching candidates in his desk just in case.
As for Darris, I wouldn't be surprised to see him connected with Rochester at some point, although I'm not suggesting that he immediately take over a team that has won two straight championships under Mike Hasen. But the league would be less interesting and colorful without him around in some capacity over the long term.
--- Budd Bailey
June 11, 2013 - 11:33 PM
<p>Golf pro Matt Clark discusses hitting out of side hill lies.</p>
June 10, 2013 - 4:13 PM
The Buffalo Bandits have announced that Darris Kilgour will not return as coach of the team for the 2014 season.
Kilgour had been coach of the team since 2003, when he took over for Frank Nielsen. During that time, he had not missed the playoffs until 2013, when the Bandits finished last in the National Lacrosse League's East Division with a 6-10 record. He departs with a career coaching record of 103-73, and is the NLL's all-time leader in coaching wins with 121.
"It’s never easy making this type of decision," said Scott Loffler, Bandits director of lacrosse operations. "However, we felt that a change at head coach is needed at this time to turn things around. What makes this decision especially difficult is that we are parting ways with Darris Kilgour, who has been an integral part of the success and history of the Buffalo Bandits. Words cannot express our gratitude for what Darris has done for this organization and there is no doubt he will have success in lacrosse circles in the future. We wish him the best of luck."
“It was an incredibly tough decision,” said Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich. “Because when I think of the Buffalo Bandits I think of Darris Kilgour and John Tavares. I had the pleasure of playing with, for, and against Darris and I love his utter belief in the Bandits organization. We believe we need a new voice and a new vision behind the bench to lead the new generation of Bandits as we continue to strive to bring the Champion’s Cup back where it belongs.”
The team said in a news release that the search for a successor will begin immediately. The name of former Troy Cordingley certainly will come up in any discussion about the position. Cordingley, who lost his job with the Rock earlier in the offseason, is a former player and assistant coach of the Bandits.
--- Budd Bailey
June 8, 2013 - 3:08 PM
ELMONT -- Hello from beautiful Belmont Park in Nassau County, where the stakes portion of the Belmont Stakes day card is about to begin. The track is currently listed as good, but a light rain has started to fall. The dirt track was listed as muddy to start the day and was upgraded early in the card as the sun has been shining most of the morning and early afternoon. The turf course is listed as yielding and the main stakes races will remain on the grass.
Sometimes I think you have to be part meteorologist in this job. If you didn't have a chance to see my thoughts on the Belmont, my advance in this morning's paper it can be found here. The current odds on the Belmont have Orb as the 2-1 favorite and Revolutionary, my pick, as the current second choice at 5-1.
The first stakes race was just completed and west coast shipper 2-Power Broker ($4.70) from the Bob Baffert barn was much the best in The Easy Goer. Mike Repole's 7-Micromanage finished second and paid $9.00 to place. Repole has three starters going in the final leg of the Triple Crown, including Mignight Taboo, Overanalyze and Unlimited Budget.
We'll carry you through the stakes portion of the card up until they head for the paddock for the Belmont here at Big Sandy. The 35th running of the Grade 2 True North is up next. It looks like the Zayat Stables coupled entry of 1-Justin Phillip and 1A-Fast Bullet are the even money favorites with Repole's 6-Caixa Eletronica the 5-2 second choice.
3:13 p.m.: Some quick thoughts from rider Rosie Napravnik after the Easy Goer on the very popular Power Broker: "I didn't have any instructions, but I figured we would be close. There was actually a nice pace up front. I breezed him a couple days ago and I knew he was coming into the race on his game. He was running very comfortably the whole way." She will be trying to become the second female to win a Triple Crown race, following in the footsteps of Julie Krone who won the 1993 Belmont aboard Colonial Affair.
3:25 p.m.: It looks like the public was right on with 1A-Fast Bullet holding off stable mate 1-Justin Phillip in the True North by 2 1/2-lengths, breaking from the three hole. It appears that the center of the track is the place to be so far this afternoon, as horses on the inside have been spinning their wheels most of the day so far.
Today's Pick-6 handle is $1,203,177 and the first two legs have been very chalky with the favorites winning the first two races in the sequence. The $1 million guaranteed Pick-4 kicks off next with the first Grade 1 of the afternoon, The Longines Just A Game. It is a pretty salty field with several quality horses, including Jim Rome's Jungle Racing Stables' and Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint champion 6-Mizdirection who comes east for the first time in her career. The 5-year-old mare is 3-2-1-0 at the one mile distance on the turf.
3:30 p.m.: I like the 1-Hungry Island, 2-Stephanie's Kitten (I let her beat me at Churchill, not again), and 3-Centre Court, so I'll be trying to beat Mizdirection in here. We have put together a little Pick-4 ticket, hopefully we can get out of the first leg!
3:45 p.m.: Heading down to the winner's circle for this race and paddock for the next. I'm going deep in the Woody Stephens with the 1, 5,6,10 and 11 and hoping for a longer shot like the 5-Honorable Dillon or 10-Merit Man to pull an upset. Looking for a celebrity sighting also, will report back momentarily.
4:35 p.m.: What a stretch drive in the Just A Game! 2-Stephanie's Kitten ($8.00) re-rallied to overtake a game 7-Better Lucky in a great duel down the stretch on the yielding turf course. That puts us live to 5 horses in the next race where we're looking for a nice price in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens. Johnny Velazquez was aboard for Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
There's a pretty good crowd in and around the paddock and from when I've been down at the winner's circle it seems like the crowd is starting to build. We'll go with a 55,000 estimate for today's attendance.
4:40 p.m.: Some quick quotes from jockey Johnny V after the win:
“It was do-or-die, you stay there or you die in there. It was one of those things. She handled the ground great so that was the most important thing. When I asked her, she was there for me,” said the Hall of Fame jock.
“The opening was there. I saw Mike’s horse [Smith, aboard Mizdirection] was drifting out anyway, and I was behind Julien [Leparoux, aboard 3-Centre Court]. I know she gets out a little bit, so I sat there right next to Julien. I thought if I could hold him in there and then get through on the inside, it would be perfect. It opened up just enough for me and when I shot through there, she went.”
4:45 p.m.: In case you were wondering we've had a change in the official drink of the Belmont Stakes.The Belmont Jewel is now the official drink of the Belmont Stakes. Created by mixologist Drew Revella, this drink -- made with small-batch bourbon shaken with pomegranate and lemonade -- takes over for the Belmont Breeze, the former official drink of the third leg of the Triple Crown.
[Ingredients: 1.5 oz Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon, 2 oz lemonade, 1 oz pomegranate juice. Preparation Step1: Shake vigorously with ice and serve on the rocks. Garnish with maraschino cherry or lemon twist].
4:55 p.m.: It looks like trainer Todd Pletcher is ready to get his afternoon rolling as 7-Forty Tales at 8-1 overtook the two front runners 11-Let Em Shine and 6-Zee Bros who dueled in blazing fractions (21.99, 44.73). 1-Declan's Warrior also closed late but it was too little, too late for the Nick Zito-trainee.
The Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap is up next with 3-5 favorite 1-Point of Entry, the horse to beat. You may remember that he scratched on Derby day before the much anticipated match up with Horse of the Year Wise Dan. If you're looking for some alternatives to PoE, then you may consider 5-Optimizer (6-1) and 9-Finnegan's Wake (20-1) as potential suitors.
If you're looking for live odds on the Belmont, check the NYRA webiste link here for up to the minute information on the wagering pools.
5:00 p.m.: The weather has continued to improve after a light rain buzzed through here about an hour and a half ago. The sun is out and the track has to be drying out as the day has gone along. Another horse on the outside won the last race, so it appears to be the place to be.
5:55 p.m.: 1-Point of Entry ($3.10) wins by 1 1/2-lengths over 5-Optimizer in the Manhattan after a four month absence from racing. 9-Finnegan's Wake finished fourth behind the Chad Brown trained Real Solution, a son of turf specialist Kitten's Joy. The final jewel of the Triple Crown is on tap next and we'll be heading down to the paddock then into the trackside winner's circle to obtain some post-race quotes from the losing connections.
6:00 p.m.: We'll stay with our pick in this morning's paper 9-Revolutionary, currently the 5-1 second choice behind the morning line favorite 5-Orb who is down to 2-1 on the tote board. It should be a great race with lots of betting value, the third choice on the board is 2-Freedom Choice at 8-1 followed by 3-Overanalyze at 9-1. There are currently six (!) horses between 10-1 and 20-1. I'll throw a few bucks on 6-Incognito as a long shot play, as closers have excelled as the day has waned.
Good luck everyone! We'll check back with a quick post after the race.
7:32 p.m.: And it's 12-Palace Malice ($29.60) to win the Belmont over 7-Oxbow, who ran a valiant race to follow up his Preakness victory. The Derby winner, 5-Orb completed the trifecta and 6-Incognito completed the super. Thanks for following along and we'll have our print commentary in tomorrow's News.
-- Gene Kershner
June 8, 2013 - 12:29 PM
By Jay Skurski
PITTSFORD -- Hello again from Locust Hill Country Club, where the gray clouds show no signs of breaking up.
The rain, however, has held off enough for golf to be played for a second straight day, as the second round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship is underway.
First-round leader Chella Choi was part of the morning wave, and she continues to hold a slim one-shot advantage. The 22-year-old South Korean is even for the day, making two birdies and two bogeys. Her total of 5 under is one shot better of countrymate Jiyai Shin, who's on the course at 4 under and is also even for the day. Shin, the ninth-ranked player in the world in the Rolex rankings, has made par her best friend today. She's got just one birdie and one bogey through 13 holes.
June 7, 2013 - 2:55 PM
By Jay Skurski
UPDATE (5:49 p.m.): Chlla Choi continues to maintain a one-shot lead at 5-under, playing the par-5 17th hole. The mist/rain continues, but with no thunder or lightning, it looks like the round should be able to be completed. South Korean Jiyai Shin has a bogey-free round going. She's currently in a tie for third place at 3-under through 15 holes.
UPDATE (4:59): Leader Chella Choi has made her first bogey of the day on the par-4 13th hole, dropping back to 5-under, still in solo possession of the ead. The rain continues to fall on the course.
UPDATE (4:23 p.m.): Chella Choi has made another birdie on the par-4 10th hole to move to 6-under par and two strokes clear of the field. Choi has no bogeys on the card thus far. The rain has started falling harder here at Locust. Fingers crossed for no delays.
UPDATE (3:40 p.m.): South Korean Chella Choi has surged ahead, shooting a 31 on the front nine to go 5-under par and one stroke up on Morgan Pressel. Choi has birdies on the second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth holes. The 22-year-old is looking for her first career win on the LPGA Tour. She did, however, show signs of breaking through last season with seven top-10 finishes.
UPDATE (2:45 p.m.): Yani Tseng just recorded a hole-in-one on the 150-yard, par-3 15th hole using an 8-iron. It's the sixth hole-in-one recorded at the 15th in LPGA tournament history at Locust Hill, and second in as many years following Jodi Ewart's ace last year.
Good afternoon from Locust Hill Country Club, where the afternoon wave is off in the first round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Those players out on the course are currently chasing leader Morgan Pressel, who closed her first round with a marvelous run of four straight birdies to shoot a 4-under 68.
Pressel made six birdies and two bogeys on the day. She's currently one shot up on Brittany Lincicome, who shot a 69, and Chella Chois, who's through five holes.
American Jessica Korda and South Korean Se Ri Pak are two shots back after opening rounds of 70.
Players are allowed to lift, clean and place their balls today after the course took 2.5 inches of rain on Thursday, and more than five inches in the past nine days.
"We are extremely impressed with the work of Rick Slattery and his crew at Locust Hill. Given the amount of rain we received yesterday, we thought we might be hard pressed to start at 7:15 a.m. today. We were able to start on time because of the hard work of the folks at Locust Hill," said Sue Witters, the LPGA's vice president of rules and competitions.
We'll have updates from the course throughout the afternoon.
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About Sports, Ink
Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.
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