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Medina Spirit gives Baffert record 7th Kentucky Derby win

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — John Velazquez was in a familiar place, in the lead aboard Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby and holding off the stretch bid of three challengers. This time, Bob Baffert couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Medina Spirit won by a half-length on Saturday, giving Baffert his seventh victory, the most of any trainer in the race’s 147-year history. The jockey and trainer — both Hall of Famers — teamed up eight months ago to win a pandemic-delayed Derby in September with Authentic, who raced to an early lead and hung on. That wasn’t so surprising. This one was. Sent off at 12-1 — astronomical odds for a colt trained by the white-haired, two-time Triple Crown winner — Medina Spirit was in a street fight thundering down the stretch. The dark brown colt was pressed by Mandaloun on his outside. Hot Rod Charlie was coming fast outside of Mandaloun, with 5-2 favourite Essential Quality giving chase on the far outside. “I kept waiting for all those horses to pass him,” Baffert said. “When he got to the eighth pole, we said, ‘This guy has got a shot.’” Velazquez knew he had plenty of horse left. “We got to the 16th pole and he put his ears down and kept fighting,” the jockey said. “I was so proud of him.” In the paddock, Baffert watched in amazement as one of the least heralded Derby runners of his long career dug in at the front. “You could tell he was laying it down and Johnny was riding hard,” Baffert said. “He was just relentless.” Medina Spirit led all the way and ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.02. He paid $26.20, $12 and $7.60. The victory was worth $1.86 million. Velazquez earned his fourth Derby victory aboard the colt that was purchased as a yearling for $1,000 and was a bargain-basement buy at $35,000 for current owner Amr Zedan of Saudi Arabia. By comparison, Zedan recently paid $1.7 million for an unraced 2-year-old. “He doesn’t know how much he cost,” Baffert said, “but what a little racehorse.” Baffert punched his right arm in the air after watching the finish on the video board. He was buried in celebratory hugs by his wife, Jill, and youngest son, Bode. Jill Baffert had reason to celebrate earlier, when a horse she co-owns and is trained by her husband won a $500,000 race on the undercard. “I’m really, really surprised,” the 68-year-old trainer said of Medina Spirit. It wasn’t false modesty. Baffert had been low-key about his chances after two of his best horses — Life Is Good and Concert Tour — were derailed along the Derby trail. Medina Spirit isn’t the typical high-priced talent with a fancy pedigree in Baffert’s California barn. “I cannot believe he won this race,” the trainer said. “That little horse, that was him, all guts. He’s always shown that he’s been an overachiever. His heart is bigger than his body.” Medina Spirit has never finished worse than second in six career starts and two of his three losses came to Life Is Good, who likely would have been the Derby favourite had he not been injured. “I’ve rehearsed this speech in the shower and treadmill,” Zedan said. “Never thought I was going to do it, but here I am.” Medina Spirit broke sharply out of the gate while Essential Quality and 9-2 second choice Rock Your World bumped shortly after the start. “We were done,” Rock Your World’s trainer John Sadler said. “No chance.” Essential Quality was five horses wide in both the first and second turns before taking aim at Medina Spirit in the stretch and coming up short in fourth place. “He didn’t get the greatest trip,” trainer Brad Cox said of the favourite. “That can happen when you start from the 14-hole.” Mandaloun — Cox’s other entry — finished second and returned $23.00 and $13.40. Hot Rod Charlie, partly owned by five former Brown University football players, was another half-length back in third and paid $5.20 to show. Baffert won back-to-back, having tied Ben Jones with his sixth victory last year when the race was run in September without spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic. “The seven wins? I can’t believe I won two,” Baffert said. “That’s what I love about this business: Nobody knows for sure.” A week earlier, Baffert sat in front of the Arkansas Racing Commission appealing a 15-day suspension that was part of his punishment for a pair of drug positives involving two of his horses from May 2020. He was successful, with the commission voting unanimously to reduce his fines and overturn the suspension. “I’m just so grateful I can still compete at this level,” Baffert said. Velazquez became the first jockey to win consecutive Derbies since Victor Espinoza in 2014-15. The 49-year-old rider also completed the Kentucky Oaks-Derby double for the first time since Calvin Borel in 2009, winning the $1 million race for fillies on Friday. Velazquez had told Baffert a night earlier not to underestimate Medina Spirit, named for the second holiest city in Islam and capital of the Medina province in Saudi Arabia. “Every time I asked him for a little more, he gave me more,” Velazquez said. The Derby went off on a sun-splashed day with attendance of 51,838 — about 100,000 fewer than usual. Fans were told to wear masks inside the track, but plenty of them did not. O Besos finished fifth, followed by Midnight Bourbon, Keepmeinmind, Helium and Known Agenda. Highly Motivated was 10th, ahead of Sainthood, Like The King, Bourbonic, Hidden Stash, Brooklyn Strong, Super Stock, Rock Your World, Dynamic One and Soup and Sandwich. Keepmeinmind is trained by Calgary’s Robertino Diodoro, who had a horse in the Derby for the first time. Woodbine trainer Mark Casse trains Helium and Canadian-bred Soup and Sandwich. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Beth Harris, The Associated Press

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Tucker's NFL-record FG lifts Ravens to win over Lions – TSN

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DETROIT (AP) — Justin Tucker ended the game as if he was starting it, backing up an extra step or two and kicking the football with every bit of force he had in his right foot.

Tucker set an NFL record with a 66-yard field goal, bouncing it through off the crossbar as time expired to lift the Baltimore Ravens to a 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

“That one was more like a kickoff,” he said. “It’s like you’re a competitor in a long-drive contest. You just let it rip and hope it stays straight.”

The kick topped the 64-yard field goal Matt Prater made for Denver against Tennessee on Dec. 8, 2013. Prater’s attempt at a 68-yard kick for Arizona on Sunday fell short and was returned 109 yards for a touchdown by Jacksonville’s Jamal Agnew, a former teammate in Detroit.

Lamar Jackson — and perhaps a break from the officials — made the record-breaking kick at Ford Field possible.

On fourth-and-19 from the Baltimore 16, he threw a 36-yard pass to Sammy Watkins to get the Ravens across midfield with 7 seconds left. The superstar quarterback spiked the ball to stop the clock, and on the next snap, he threw it away after TV footage suggested the play clock expired.

“We’ll get an apology and it doesn’t mean anything,” Detroit coach Dan Campbell said.

Then Tucker — who made a 61-yard kick to beat the Lions in Baltimore’s previous visit to Detroit eight years ago — came out and made the record-breaking field goal.

“I love Detroit,” said Tucker, who is the most accurate kicker in NFL history. “I’m thinking about getting a place here.”

Referee Scott Novak told a pool reporter that he had not seen a replay of the play in which the play clock appeared on TV to expire before Jackson’s incomplete pass to the sideline, adding he had no idea if there was an error made.

“The back judge is looking at the play clock and if it were to hit zero, he sees the zero, and he then looks to see if the ball is being snapped,” Novak said. “If the ball is being snapped, we will let the play go. If it’s not moving, it’s delay of game. Those are the mechanics that we apply on that play.”

Baltimore (2-1) went into the fourth quarter with a 16-7 lead and ended up trailing briefly.

Ryan Santoso made a go-ahead, 35-yard field goal with 1:04 left, giving Campbell an opportunity to win his first game with the Lions (0-3).

“It hurts because you put yourself in position to win,” Campbell said. “The silver lining is we’re getting better and I’m proud of the way they competed.”

Santoso was promoted from Detroit’s practice squad on Saturday after kicker Austin Seibert went on the COVID-19 reserve list.

Jackson was 16 of 31 for a season-high 287 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His teammates dropped at least four passes that could have potentially turned the closely contested game into a rout.

Mark Andrews had five receptions for 109 yards for the Ravens, who have won 11 straight games against NFC opponents.

Jackson perfectly placed two passes on one drive that should have been touchdowns, but Watkins and Marquise Brown failed to catch the football. Brown also dropped two passes on a single possession late in the first half, forcing Baltimore to punt.

Detroit’s Jared Goff was 22 of 30 for 217 yards and D’Andre Swift had 107 yards of offense and a score.

“I know this city and this franchise have gone through a lot of gut punches in the last few years, but I’m telling you we will remain true and remain resilient and the gut punches will stop,” Goff said.

The Ravens often had to settle for field goals, and they’re fortunate to have one of the best ever handling that job for them.

Tucker, who was wide right on a 49-yard field goal in the first quarter, made a 39-yard kick with 10:05 left in the first half to put them ahead 3-0. Tucker made two field goals in the third.

“He’s a huge part of our game,” Jackson said. “If we’re not getting it done, he’s going to come through and give us three points here, three points there.”

The Lions have a history of losing on long kicks. In addition to the two by Tucker, Detroit was also on the wrong end of Tom Dempsey’s then-record 63-yarder in 1970 for New Orleans. Buffalo’s Dan Carpenter beat the Lions with a 58-yarder in 2014.

WHAT A RUSH

The Ravens ran for 116 yards, surpassing 100 yards for the 42nd straight game to pull within one of the NFL record set by Pittsburgh from 1974-77.

MEGATRON’S VISIT

Calvin Johnson set aside his hard feelings for the Lions long enough to be honored at halftime, receiving his ring of excellence from the Pro Football Hall of Fame after being inducted last month.

INJURIES

Ravens: Rookie LB Daelin Hayes (ankle) and S DeShon Elliott (quadriceps) were hurt during the game. The defense started the game without DE Derek Wolfe (back, hip injuries), and LBs Jaylon Ferguson and Justin Houston and DL Brandon Williams and Justin Madubuike went on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.

Lions: LB Trey Flowers (shoulder, knee) was inactive.

UP NEXT

Ravens: Play at Denver next Sunday.

Lions: Play at Chicago next Sunday.

___

Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/larrylage

___

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

___

This version has been corrected to show that Tennessee was the opponent on Prater’s 64-yard kick in 2013.

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Early game, massive opportunity, especially for two Edmonton Oilers prospects – Edmonton Journal

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This in from Reid Wilkins of 630 CHED, the Edmonton Oilers expected line combos tonight against the Calgary Flames, a game that will live-streamed on EdmontonOilers.com.

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Benson-McLeod-Marody
Perlini-Shore-Turris
Sceviour-Ryan-Bourgault
Hamblin-Cracknell-Lavoie

Koekkoek-Bouchard
Broberg-Berglund
Lagesson-Kemp

Skinner
Konovalov

My take

1. It’s the first pre-season game, but first impressions are huge for at least two young-ish Edmonton Oilers prospects who need to put on a big show if they’re finally going to crack the Oilers roster. They will have other chances to do so, yes, but the clock is ticking, all Oilers organizational eyes are on them, and it’s time to shine if they hope to stick in Edmonton. They both have golden opportunities.

2. Tyler Benson is the first of the two. The kid was drafted in 2016, five years ago. Indeed, Benson is no longer a kid. He’s 23, and all kinds of fellow forwards from that draft have established themselves as NHLers, like Auston Matthews, Matt Tkachuk and Patrik Laine from the top of the draft, but also forwards taken late in the first round or in the second round and after, such as Alex DeBrincat, Jordan Kyrou, Jesper Bratt, Tage Thompson, Max Jones, and Brett Howden. It’s Last-Chance-Gas for other relatively high picks like Sam Steel, Rasmus Asplund, Nathan Bastian and Boris Katchouk. Can they finally grab an NHL job?

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3. Oilers GM Ken Holland said this past week in a radio interview that Benson is penciled into the line-up and that it’s his job to loose. That’s good news for the young forward, but as the old saying goes, that and $2.00 will get him a coffee at Tim Horton’s. Benson has to earn it now on the ice, Holland said. So far in camp, the reports have been good, with Benson coming to camp in excellent shape and looking quicker on the ice.

4. Benson has been teamed up in camp with his AHL linemates Ryan McLeod and Cooper Marody. They were arguably the AHL’s best two-way line last year. McLeod has already made the jump to the NHL and played OK two-way hockey there late last season. He earned a spot in some playoff games. Marody, like Benson, is in Last-Chance-Gas territory as a prospect. But the trio can wheel on the attack and defend effectively. They need to do both tonight against Calgary. There is an outside shot, say 20 per cent, that the trio could somehow find their way forward together as the Oil’s third scoring line to start the year.

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5. The other Oilers prospect on the hot seat is “Wild” Bill Lagesson, who has played seven full seasons since he was drafted 91st overalll in 2014. If he makes it, he’ll be a super rarity, a player who eventually makes the NHL as 25-year-old who is still with the original team that drafted him. It’s such a glorious storyline that one has to think whichever entity is running The Simulation will align things to make it happen.

6. Lagesson got an early boost heading into camp, with veteran Kris Russell still injured and with even more veteran Duncan Keith out until his COVID quarantine ends next Friday. Lagesson is going to get some exhibition games, maybe a few more than anyone had originally planned, but what will he do with them? Will he be the player who looked like he might just hand in there as a shut-down d-man when he played so well with Adam Larsson early in the 2020-21 season? Or will he be the guy who struggled as that same season went on and he got hurt? Injury is a major factor in any player’s career, of course.

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7. Right now, Benson is slotted into the fourth line left wing spot. Lagesson ranks fifth on the left d-man chart, after Darnell Nurse, Keith, Slater Koekkoek and Russell. But injuries happen. Veterans slide. And sometimes a long-time prospect turns the corner and plays the kind of impactful hockey that allows him to stick in the NHL for a season or two or five.

8. The Flames have plenty of Big Bobby Clobbers in their line-up — Erik Gudbranson, Nikita Zadorov, Milan Lucic, Brett Ritchie and Martin Posisil — while the Oilers are going with skill. It will be an interesting test to see if Edmonton’s skill can stand up to and get the best of Calgary’s muscle. Rock beats scissors, so the Oilers will have to do more than make fancy plays. They’ll have to fight through the rough stuff and be all over these Flames, harassing and covering them at every turn. Paper beats rock.

At the Cult

LEAVINS: The Archibald conundrum

McCURDY: Day 3 of on-ice at Edmonton Oilers camp and the first cuts come down

STAPLES: What the Josh Archibald situation mean for the Edmonton Oilers

LEAVINS: Oilers off-season makeover made with an analytics brush

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Is this it as a Ryder Cup player? Lee Westwood shares singles win with son as caddie – Golf Channel

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Whether or not Lee Westwood will captain the European Ryder Cup team in Rome, Italy in 2023, he seemed resigned to the fact that this was his last competition as a player.

“Listen, this match I played this afternoon, it might be the last match I’ve played in the Ryder Cup. I’d rather it wasn’t, but I’m 49 next April, and the likelihood is it is. I got to share it with my son. Won my point,” Westwood said Sunday evening, pausing to hold back tears.

“I hate this tournament. It makes you so emotional, but that’s what makes it great as well.”

Westwood’s son, Sam, was his caddie this week as the 48-year-old Englishman won his singles match, 1 up, over Harris English.


Match scoring for the 43rd Ryder Cup


Westwood went 1-2-0 at Whistling Straits, moving his all-time record to 21-20-6. His 11 appearances tie him with Nick Faldo for most ever, on either side.

Westwood was one of four 40-somethings on this year’s European team, along with Ian Poulter, 45, Paul Casey, 44, and Sergio Garcia, 41. While this may mark the end of Westwood’s career as a player (he’ll most certainly be a future captain), Poulter, Casey and Garcia weren’t ready to concede to the future.

The Europeans were routed at the Ryder Cup. Here’s a look at the individual player records for the away team.

When asked by a reporter, “For the veteran guys, I don’t want to suggest for a second that you won’t be back, but do you find yourself taking it in more just in case?”

Garcia responded, I’m not answering this one. I’m not a veteran.”

To which Westwood followed, “I guess that’s me, then, is it?”

If this is it for Westwood, he leaves as a member of seven victorious European teams.

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