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No Maximum Security, No Country House in Preakness
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
NBA Quiz: Name the only seven, ABA/NBA combined, to have 15,000 rebounds in their careers. Answer below.
Kentucky Derby...the controversy continues....
Maximum Security owner Gary West said Monday the horse will not run in the Preakness.
“No, we’re not going to run in the Preakness,” West said on the ‘Today’ show. “There’s no Triple Crown on the line for us and there’s no reason to run a horse back in two weeks when you don’t have to.”
West then said he was filing an appeal of the stewards’ decision with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, even though state regulations say that the stewards’ decision on any horse race ‘shall be final and shall not be subject to appeal.’
West said the appeal would focus not on the decision but the way the stewards went about making it. He questioned why the stewards themselves didn’t file an immediate objection after the race (this is one point I agree with), instead waiting for two jockeys to raise the issue. West was also wondering why the stewards didn’t take questions Saturday, after reading a statement that he claims was written by lawyers.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission didn’t take long to deny the appeal of Maximum Security’s disqualification, saying hours after it was filed Monday that the stewards’ decision is indeed not subject to appeal. The commission’s letter also denied a request on behalf of owners Gary and Mary West to stay the disqualification ruling pending appeal.
West replied in an interview with the Associated Press: “Based on everything that has happened so far, I’m not surprised. We’ll file suit in whatever the appropriate court is. I don’t know the answer to that, but the lawyers that I have retained will know what the appropriate venue is.”
Andrew Beyer / Washington Post
“When the stewards at Churchill Downs disqualified Maximum Security...the decision might have seemed straightforward. The colt committed a foul on the final turn when he crossed in front of War of Will and caused trouble for two other runners. NBC’s slow-motion replays clearly showed the infraction. And plenty of people said, ‘The rules are the rules, and they should be enforced whether an infraction occurs in a lowly claiming race or the Kentucky Derby.’
“Racing fans know issues involving interference and disqualifications are not nearly so simple. In a rough-and-tumble sport, horses regularly bump into or veer in front of one another. In most cases, the stewards take no notice and no action. (Probably nobody would have paid attention if Maximum Security had swerved in front of War of Will on the first turn.)
“Stewards disqualify horses when a foul has clearly affected the outcome – or when it’s so egregious that it eliminates other horses from contention. Even then, racing officials are often reluctant to take action in big races, just as basketball or football referees don’t want to decide the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl with a whistle.
“After watching video of the 145th Derby over and over, I believe the Churchill Downs stewards made a bad decision when they took down Maximum Security’s number and made Country House the official winner. Yes, there was a foul. No, it didn’t merit disqualification.
“On the final turn at Churchill Downs, with Maximum Security in the lead and War of Will behind him, Maximum Security veered into his opponent’s path and caused jockey Tyler Gaffalione to steady his horse. NBC commentator Randy Moss, an astute observer of the sport, said after watching the two horses’ legs get tangled, ‘It could have been carnage.’ (Moss accordingly thought the disqualification was deserved.)
“When I watch races and make notes on them, I always try to estimate how much an incident of trouble cost a horse. In this case, I estimated one length. The consequences of Maximum Security’s misdeed could have been catastrophic, but they weren’t. War of Will recovered quickly and resumed his chase of the leader. He had a virtually clear path ahead of him and a quarter mile to catch the front-runner. He accelerated and got within a length of Maximum Security, but the leader repulsed his bid, and in the final sixteenth of a mile War of Will ran out of gas. He faded to finish eighth. Without the trouble, he might have finished fifth. He would not have won....
“If Maximum Security had veered into the path of Country House, then defeated him by less than two lengths, there would have been no debate about what the stewards should do. The foul would have cost Country House a legitimate chance to win, and the resultant disqualification would have been prompt and uncontroversial.
“But because Maximum Security’s infraction did not affect the outcome, disqualifying the winner was a bit like deciding the NBA Finals on a foul away from the ball.”
Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“If there’s a moral to the 145th Kentucky Derby, it’s that you can’t take the gambling out of gambling. But try telling that to horse people, those incurable lottery addicts. The stewards of Churchill Downs imposed an artificial order on 19 horses searching for solid footing while stampeding in a mire, the brown water pooling in mud-trench harrows, while 150,000 people wearing flower pots on their heads hollered at them. What sense did any of it make? The final result, Maximum Security disqualified for committing a ‘foul’ by straying wide, handing the roses to Country House, was just another attempt by silly humans to mask the astounding risk. Let’s be clear: This entire sport is a foul.
“It all starts with the owners and breeders, who perpetually try to beat nature with their bank accounts, at the expense of the horses. As if you can control the things that get born in a barn, separate out the intended from the unintended, the champions from the ponies and donkeys and goats. Think for a moment about all the factors that have to line up just right for a Kentucky Derby runner to be foaled and safely reach the age of 3, how unpredictably the spinning wheel of genetics must stop on just the right alignment of bone and spirit to produce a creature that can hold up while galloping at 45 mph and striking the ground with a force of 5,500 pounds per square inch, on legs shaped like a beauty contestant’s. It’s all chance. Frightening, terrifying chance.
“Yet here came the human interference at the finish line of the Derby, trying to impose a numbered, first-to-last list on the dangerous chaos and seek some kind of, what, justice? You’ve got to be kidding. A foul? They called a foul because Maximum Security with Luis Saez aboard swerved out of his ‘lane’? ‘He’s a baby,’ Saez said rightly of his horse. Where, pray tell, was the discernible lane in all that muck and rain and screaming and flogging and young animal surging? Where is the ‘lane’ in a sport beset by medication overuse and purse structures that incentivize racing horses even when they are hurt, in which the jockeys whip-beat their horses to the finish on a clearly unsafe wet surface the substance of farina?
“This isn’t sport; it’s a fancied-up vice. Horse people counted on the excitement of the Derby to obscure the fact that 23 horses died at Santa Anita this winter, and Churchill Downs, too, is one of the deadliest tracks in America. All you could think, during the long 22 minutes that the stewards took to review the film, as the walkers led the steaming, mud-caked contestants in cool-down circles while great plumed exhalations came from their nostrils was, ‘I don’t give a damn who won; somebody just please get these horses out of the mud, and check their legs, and dry their coats and give them something to drink.’
“The great irony was that the stewards made the right decision, so far as they were concerned with safety. The rules clearly state, ‘If a leading horse, or any other horse in a race, swerves or is ridden to either side so as to interfere with or intimidate or impede any other horse or jockey, or to cause same, it is a foul,’ and, ‘Any offending horses may be disqualified...’ ....
“A chilling close-up shows how nearly Maximum Security’s back legs came to interlocking with the front legs of War of Will and creating a catastrophic fall. The stewards had to make the decision they did, if only to show nominal concern for the well-being of the field....
“Thoroughbreds would run even if there wasn’t a soul watching and, like all great athletes, sometimes their ambition outstrips their bodies and they hurt themselves. But that doesn’t absolve their human handlers of the responsibility to mitigate the risk. Some tracks hurt horses more than others, Churchill Downs is one of them, and everybody in this beautiful-turned-rotten game knows it.
“As far as chance and luck go, Churchill Downs is just lucky it doesn’t have a horror on its hands. The stewards’ controversy should not distract from some critical soul searching over Santa Anita, or fool anyone into thinking that the sport’s responsibilities to the health of the horses have been adequately met....Yet not until two weeks ago, amid scrutiny of its track record in the wake of the Santa Anita debacle, did Churchill Downs move to institute any common-sense reforms. It will install an equine medical center and surveillance cameras in barns, and advocate for medication reform. That’s a start.
“Thoroughbred racing is in the midst of a moral sickness: Its leaders have lacked the will to organize and implement some basic best practices, though everyone has known for years that they would reduce fatalities....
“The old saw that horse people really love their animals won’t wash anymore. When, exactly, are they going to start showing it? The only Kentucky Derby result anyone should be happy about is that the horses made it safely back to the barns – this time.”
Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal
“I assume disputed Kentucky Derby winner Country House will not be invited to clip-clop into the White House.
“No hoof-shake with the President, second-place horsey loser!
“President Trump is among the crowd ticked off that Country House – a 65-to-1 long shot; a schmo, a nuthin’, a nobody, really – was awarded the Derby Saturday after initial winner Maximum Security was disqualified for interfering with other horses. Welcome to sports in 2019. Just when you think it’s gone completely weird, wait a minute. It’s going to get much weirder.
“Trump said Maximum Security’s DQ was the result of ‘political correctness.’ Turns out, in the old days, when men were men, and horses were horses, a Derby leader could blithely fishtail across three competitors, forcing at least one jockey to check up and slow his horse, and nobody moaned to the Trot Police about safety or injuries or any of that namby-pamby stuff.
“ ‘The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby,’ Trump said via his Twitter bazooka. ‘Not even close.’
“I do feel bad for Maximum Security. That’s a rough way to lose a horse race, especially for a clearly talented horse. And I feel bad for Country House, who’s been deprived a true moment of celebration, and likely, a sprightly piaffe round the Oval Office.
“No munching on the delicious shrubbery in the Rose Garden, Country House! No sugar cubes...no carrot sticks...no hay with the leader of the free world. No McDonald’s, no Burger King, no Domino’s, either.
“Never in history have humans been so at the ready to flip out about anything. We have all the kindling: replays, information, disinformation, and, via social media, the ability to scream into the void about injustices real and imagined. We have made a national obsession out of screaming past each other about sports, politics, television shows, restaurants, airlines, parenting strategies, vacation destinations...everything.
“(But) this is the truth about the Derby: The stewards made a difficult but appropriate call. As Country House trainer Bill Mott said, and the Journal’s resident railbird Jim Chairusmi reported, had Maximum Security chopped across the field during an unremarkable midweek race, he’d have been pulled off the board there, too. The Derby is an overcrowded race, and this wasn’t typical rubbin’ is racin’ shenanigans. The DQ is not great for horse racing PR, but it’s a heck of a lot less damaging compared with what could have happened to a horse or horses on the track.
“If the President thinks Maximum Security was robbed, the Sports Pope thinks the Derby got it right: ‘The owners can whine (not unexpected), the President can chime in (not unexpected), they can threaten legal action. But the fact remains the stewards did the right thing. Maximum Security had to come down,’ talk radio potentate Mike Francesa tweeted Sunday evening.
“It’s the setting and circumstances that makes this a big deal, not the call itself. (This is not Saints-Rams, where the officials really did blow it). It is unusual – a winner had never been disqualified on race day in the Derby’s 145-year history. If you watched the race on Saturday, you saw something that nobody’d seen before. But this is what it means to live in America today. At the rate we’re going, I think we’re going to see at least everything once.”
Well, racing suffered another blow Tuesday when it was announced Country House would not be running in the Preakness either because he was ill, according to trainer Bill Mott.
“He developed a little bit of a cough this morning,” Mott told the Daily Racing Form by telephone. “His appetite is good. He doesn’t have a fever. But he’s coughing. We drew blood. He’s acting like he’s going to get sick. He’s off the training list, and if he’s off the training list, he’s off the Preakness list.
“It’s probably a little viral thing. Hopefully it doesn’t develop into anything serious.”
This is the first time since Grindstone in 1996 that the Derby winner has not run in the Preakness.
So a major bummer for the Preakness, but potentially a coup for the Belmont, if Country House and Maximum Security could both run in that one.
Finally, as I noted last time, the only other Derby disqualification was in 1968, when first-place finisher Dancer’s Image tested positive for a prohibited medication, and Kentucky racing officials ordered the purse money to be redistributed. But that was about a week later. The odds-on favorite for the race, Forward Pass, finished second and was then bumped up to first.
Mark R., then a senior at Notre Dame, and a classmate drove down to check out the Derby, rather naively in terms of knowing the logistics, as he admitted to me. As in they didn’t know the hotel rooms would all be booked, but they found space at the University of Louisville.
And then they got to the track, thinking they could get a seat, and ended up in the infield, which wasn’t all bad, Mark enjoying the scenery.
So Mark knew nothing about the horses, bet $2 on Forward Pass, and at the end of the race folded it up and put it in his wallet, and never cashed it out. But he doesn’t know where the ticket is today, which is unfortunate because it would at least be worth more than the $8 or so that was the eventual payout.
--The Raptors took a 3-2 series lead in Toronto last night, blitzing the Sixers 125-89, even though Kawhi Leonard had just 21 points. Toronto was 16 of 40 from three, while Philadelphia was just 6 of 24, committing 19 turnovers.
But the Sixers’ Joel Embiid, who likes to talk a lot, and always seem to be sick or injured, was hindered by a virus and had just 13 points, a second straight poor performance.
So I caught the halftime show and TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley lit into Embiid, saying that by playing so lethargically, and moping around, he was hardly inspiring his teammates.
Shaq said Embiid has to lay everything on the line regardless of how he feels.
Barkley said Embiid “drains energy from the room,” and that as a star player you can never show weakness and Embiid has done just this by how he carried himself before the game and how he has talked about his illness the past few days.
--Denver took a 3-2 series lead over Portland Tuesday, cruising 124-98 behind Nikola Jokic’s 25 points, 19 rebounds and six assists.
--The Celtics are on the verge of elimination having lost Game 4 to Milwaukee in Boston Monday night, 113-101; the Bucks with a 3-1 series lead as the two teams now head back to Milwaukee. Giannis went off for 39 points, while hauling down 16 rebounds...total domination.
The story for the Celts has been the dreadful shooting of star guard Kyrie Irving. Monday he was 7 for 22 from the field, meaning over the last three games, Irving had gone 19 for 62 (31 percent) from the field, 4 of 20 from three.
And Kyrie’s poor shooting was contagious, the Celtics 9 for 41 (22 percent) from 3-point range Monday.
Game 5 is tonight.
Meanwhile, Kyrie is potentially headed to free agency this summer and a lot of Boston fans wouldn’t be sorry to see him go, a common criticism being he has hurt the team’s chemistry.
Then again, if he could lead the Celts to a comeback in the series, that attitude would change. He’s done it before.
--The Houston-Golden State series is suddenly tied at 2-2, the Rockets winning back-to-back at home, including Monday’s 112-108 win over the Warriors, James Harden with 38 points and 10 rebounds.
Why is Golden State struggling? Look no further than Steph Curry, a pathetic 12 of 46 from three in the series, the Warriors 8-33 from downtown in Game 4. [Klay Thompson is 8 of 26 from three in the four games.]
Game 5 in Oakland tonight.
One more...IF Golden State progresses in the playoffs, injured center DeMarcus Cousins vows he could return to play in the finals. Cousins suffered a partially torn quadriceps muscle on April 15. He has been participating in some shootaround activities.
Yes, I have to admit I haven’t watched much, but I will going forward. Last night, St. Louis won its Game 7 against Dallas, 2-1 in double overtime, Pat Maroon the game-winner at 5:50 of the second OT.
Monday, Pete M.’s Bruins took their series with the Blue Jackets, 4-2, with Tuuka Rask turning back 39 shots in Monday’s 3-0 Game 6 decider.
Pete M., George R., David P., and countless others have been celebrating far too often in Beantown to suit this Mets and Jets fan.
--After a distressing 4-0 loss in San Diego Monday at the hands of the Padres’ rookie sensation Chris Paddack, who struck out 11 in seven dominating innings, Mets rookie slugger Pete Alonso 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts, New York had lost four in a row, dropping them to 16-19, the team in freefall.
But Alonso said after the Mets “must win” Tuesday, and he proceeded to do his part, getting three hits and four RBIs, including a mammoth two-run shot in the top of the ninth that scored the go-ahead runs in a badly-needed 7-6 win; the Mets having scored just seven runs over their previous six games.
Separately, Mets broadcaster Ron Darling, who has been out after a large mass was removed from his stomach, announced Monday that he has thyroid cancer. Darling said the cancer appears treatable and he hopes to return soon. There is no better broadcast trio than the Mets’ Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Darling, and we send out our best to Ronnie for a speedy recovery.
--Give the Yankees credit. They’ve more than hung in there with all their major injuries, and now the walking wounded are slowly returning. Last night, New York moved to 21-14 with a sterling 3-run rally in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 win over the Mariners at rainy Yankee Stadium. [It’s been raining in this area for 16 straight months...or so it seems.]
--The Giants’ Pablo Sandoval made history Monday in San Francisco’s 12-4 loss to Cincinnati. Sandoval became the first major leaguer since 1905 to hit a home run, steal a base and post a scoreless outing in the same game.
Incredibly, the only other player to accomplish the feat was Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, who on May 23, 1905, threw nine shutout innings for the Giants against the same team, the Reds; Mathewson also homering and stealing a base in a victory.
Sandoval’s steal of third in the second inning was his first stolen base since the 2012 season.
Also in Monday’s game, Reds rookie Nick Senzal homered twice, giving him three in his first four games in the big leagues. Pretty good way to start out what everyone expects to be a super career.
[But after an 0-for-3 last night in a 2-0 loss to the A’s, Senzal is 4-for-20, .200.]
--The Angels activated Shohei Ohtani, who made his season debut as DH last night in a 5-2 win over the Tigers in Detroit, Ohtani 0-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.
--After a 6-0 loss to the Brewers, the injury-riddled Nationals are 14-21! I feel better with my Mets at 17-19.
--The Dodgers’ Hyun-Jim Ryu is now 4-1, 2.03 ERA, after throwing a 9-0 complete game shutout against the Braves, Ryu requiring just 93 pitches.
--Latest Baseball America College Rankings....
5. Mississippi State
8. East Carolina...very cool...hope they win the CWS
9. Texas Tech
10. Georgia Tech
12. Oregon State...rough weekend for the Beavers, who were No. 4 the week before, but were swept at home by Oklahoma State, the Cowboys moving into the top 25 as a result at No. 22.
Premier / Champions League
--In PL action Monday, Manchester City regained the top spot, 1-0 over Leicester City on a spectacular Vincent Kompany strike from outside the penalty area, the first time in 11 seasons with City he had scored from this range.
So with one to go....
Man City 37 – 95
Liverpool 37 – 94
Sunday, Liverpool has a tough home match against the Wolves, while City travels to Brighton, which has been playing tough of late. City just needs to win it. A draw and a Liverpool win gives the title to the Reds. It will be exciting stuff.
Also Sunday, Tottenham needs a draw against Everton at home to secure the final Champions League slot, but it’s actually easier than that with an 8-goal differential over fifth-place Arsenal, which is 3 points behind the Spurs.
Arsenal needs to win the Europa League to get into the CL competition.
Yesterday, in the second-leg of their Champions League semifinal against Barcelona, Liverpool pulled off a stunner for the ages. After losing the first leg in Barcelona, 3-0, Liverpool needed to beat Lionel Messi and Co. 4-0 to win on aggregate and that is just what they did.
The odds were 50-1 against Liverpool accomplishing this feat, but when Divock Origi put in his second of the game at the 79’ mark, it was indeed 4-0 and the Reds kept Barca scoreless from there.
It was the first time since 1986 – when Barcelona knocked out Gothenburg in the old European Cup – that a team had recovered from a three-goal first-leg deficit to win a semifinal in this competition.
Today, Tottenham, which lost its first leg semi against Ajax 1-0, travels to Amsterdam for the return contest, needing a 2-1 win or better. They have to be drawing inspiration from Liverpool’s effort.
--Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is pushing for a summer transfer to Real Madrid, but that would require United to drastically lower their $210 million valuation. You’re reading that right.
The star midfielder, who had a highly disappointing season, save for a stretch when manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over for Jose Mourinho at midseason, wants to make the move because Man U didn’t qualify for the Champions League, for which Pogba would have received a $2.5m qualifying bonus.
United had paid about $115m for Pogba and they have to weigh the risk of keeping an unhappy player.
For their part, Real Madrid can’t afford both Pogba and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, who they are also targeting.
--Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suffered a potentially season-ending fractured neck in a single-car accident last week in South Florida, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.
Pierre-Paul, 30, will likely need surgery.
--This went viral, but for the record, Rodney Copeland opened the screen door to a friend’s house in Lawton, Oklahoma and was bitten in the face by a thankfully non-poisonous bull snake, who had been coiled on a porch light...all captured on doorbell cam.
The friend said he had never seen a snake in the house, though it seemed clear the snake was taking shelter from recent heavy rains.
Copeland didn’t require any stitches.
--The BBC reported that a British soldier died in Malawi during counter-poaching operations, the Ministry of Defense said.
Mathew Talbot, 22, was on patrol May 5 when he was killed by an elephant. In a statement, the MoD said Talbot “was not unfamiliar” with Africa and had volunteered to support counter-poaching efforts in Malawi.
There were no details on this incident.
--The following hit all the papers....
“A couple have died in Mongolia from bubonic plague after eating raw marmot. The deaths of the Mongolian couple led to a quarantine that left tourists stranded for days.”
Now you might be wondering, ‘Why the heck would one consider eating raw marmot?’
It seems they thought it was “a remedy for good health,” it was reported.
Brad K. said marmots are a known carrier of the plague bacteria, which I didn’t know. So if you see one on your doorstep, begging for table scraps, call authorities.
The plague has a 30% to 60% fatality rate if left untreated.
I forgot that parts of Yosemite National Park were shut down in 2015 because of a plague outbreak. In the 14th century, about 50 million died in the Black Death that swept Africa, Asia and Europe.
--Finally, Brad K. relayed this story from the AP: “Sheriff’s officials say a Florida woman pulled a small alligator from her yoga pants during a traffic stop.”
It seems the woman and her boyfriend were collecting frogs and snakes under an overpass and gave a deputy permission to search bags in the truck, where they found 41 turtles in a backpack, before she pulled out the foot-long gator.
This is rather disturbing.
Top 3 songs for the week 5/7/66: #1 “Monday, Monday” (The Mamas and the Papas) #2 “Good Lovin’” (The Young Rascals) #3 “Sloop John B” (The Beach Boys)...and...#4 “(You’re My) Soul And Inspiration” (The Righteous Brothers) #5 “Kicks” (Paul Revere and The Raiders featuring Mark Lindsay) #6 “Secret Agent Man” (Johnny Rivers) #7 “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (Bob Dylan) #8 “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” (Cher) #9 “Leaning On The Lamp Post” (Herman’s Hermits) #10 “Gloria” (Shadows Of Knight...as good a week as you’ll find...)
NBA Quiz Answer: Seven with 15,000 rebounds, ABA/NBA combined.
1. Wilt 23924
2. Bill Russell 21620
3. Moses Malone 17834
4. Kareem 17440
5. Artis Gilmore 16330
6. Elvin Hayes 16279
7. Tim Duncan 15091... Bazooka Joe says, “Timmy stayed in school all four years at Wake Forest!”
8. Karl Malone 14968
*Mel Daniels was the all-time leader in the ABA with 9494.
1969 Mets, cont’d....
May 6: The Mets hosted Cincinnati in a two-game set, taking the first game 8-1 on four home runs, including a three-run shot by Mets starter Don Cardwell, who went all the way for the complete game victory. Ken Boswell, Cleon Jones and Wayne Garrett also went deep for the Metsies; Garrett’s his first in the big leagues.
Cardwell only hit .135 in his career, but he slammed 15 homers.
May 7: Jim Merritt and Clay Carroll combined on a 3-hitter for the Reds, Cincy winning 3-0, with Gary Gentry taking the loss, despite allowing just one run in eight innings.
So the Mets are 12-15, with a weekend series with the Astros coming up at Shea.