Ten Maryland sports stories that helped define 2017

Good luck wrapping this Baltimore sports year with a tidy bow.The Orioles collapsed down the stretch in a disquieting reminder of the pre-Buck Showalter years. The Ravens tried to climb out of mediocrity as fans questioned the team’s long-term direction and argued about the possibility of signing Colin Kaepernick. Neither Maryland basketball team made a sustained March push, and the football team staggered to a disappointing 4-8 record. Talk of the Preakness’ future location might have overshadowed the actual race.Where was the joy, 2017?Well, you had to look a bit to the side. The Maryland men’s lacrosse team exorcised 42 years’ worth of title-game demons, and the women reclaimed their dominance. Juan Dixon returned home to take his first head coaching job at Coppin State. The Blast won another championship and opened a new era in Towson.It wasn’t all bad, but it sure wasn’t great. So here they are, the 10 Baltimore-area sports stories that defined the year:Blast win another title, move to TowsonNo one was terribly surprised when the Blast won another Major Arena Soccer League title last spring. Championships are the norm for a franchise that has remained remarkably stable amid stormy economic times for the indoor sport.The real twist came when the talent-packed Blast announced that they would defend their title not at Royal Farms Arena but at SECU Arena at Towson University.The Blast had been a downtown staple since they began playing at the then-Civic Center in 1980. They drew a loyal audience and charmed generations of Baltimore fans with their catchy theme songs and striking red-and-orange uniforms.They made the move to Towson in search of a more raucous atmosphere at the more intimate college arena. And they began their new life much as they left their old, with an exciting 8-7 victory before a near-sellout crowd.Ravens’ interest in Kaepernick spurs fierce debateRavens coach John Harbaugh poured oil on one of the most Continue Reading

Exaggerator wins Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, beats Derby winner Nyquist on sloppy track

BALTIMORE (AP) — Despite the fog, the rain and an undefeated Kentucky Derby winner to contend with, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux knew the best route to the Preakness winner’s circle with Exaggerator — stay inside and wait. The rider who started his career in Maryland guided Exaggerator to a 3 1/2-length victory over Cherry Wine in Saturday’s $1.5 million Preakness, ending any chance for a Triple Crown follow up after American Pharoah accomplished the rare feat last year. Nyquist finished third. Just call Pimlico Race Course home track advantage, Desormeaux. Stride by stride, Exaggerator made up ground along the rail as Nyquist and Uncle Lino dueled for the lead. Desormeaux was watching. “I had a dream trip,” he said. “To me it looked like Nyquist was trying to establish an outward position, maybe in the four path. He was jockeying for position all the way down the back side. And Exaggerator just kind of slid up the fence to the far turn where I actually got to slow him down and say ‘whenever I’m ready.”’ He was ready with 3/16ths of a mile to go, and splashed his way past Nyquist to finally beat his nemesis after four losses, including a runner-up finish in the Derby. “It was an amazing race and Exaggerator is an amazing horse,” Desormeaux said. The day began on a somber note. Two horses died and a jockey was injured in the first four races, one of the horses bred and owned by Gretchen and Roy Jackson — the owners of the ill-fated Barbaro. It was 10 years ago when Gretchen and Roy Jackson’s Derby winner Barbaro shattered bones in his right hind leg at the start of the Preakness. Seven months later, he was euthanized. The Jacksons’ 4-year-old filly Pramedya was euthanized on the track Saturday after she broke down during the fourth race. Jockey Daniel Centeno broke his right collar bone. Earlier, 9-year-old Continue Reading

2016 Preakness Stakes: Odds and wacky prop bets for the race at Pimlico

The 2016 Preakness Stakes is ready to get underway. More than 100,000 fans are scheduled to be in attendance at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore for the second leg of the Triple Crown Saturday. While fans will be watching the race itself for a chance to see Preakness favorite Nyquist attempt to make history and continue his bid for the Triple Crown, they'll also most likely be doing something else as well ... betting. Horse racing has historically been one of the most popular sporting events fans like to gamble on, and the Preakness Stakes is no exception. Last year's total handle surpassed $85 million, according to the Maryland Jockey Club. The Maryland Jockey Club also recently said they're encouraged about ticket sales and attendance for this year's race. Sal Sinatra, president and general manager, even told WBAL News Radio he's "tickled about it." More people mean more wagers, and from betting on the race itself to betting on the number of arrests made on the Pimlico infield, there is no shortage of ways cash can be put on the line. Here are a few to consider (odds as of May 18): Racing Bets Odds to win the Preakness: Nyquist: 3-5 Exaggerator: 9-2 Stradivari: 9-1 Cherry Wine: 20-1 Collected: 25-1 Fellowship: 38-1 Uncle Lino: 38-1 Abiding Star: 45-1 Awesome Speed: 50-1 Laoban: 50-1 Lani: 50-1 Over-under on Nyquist's margin of victory 2 lengths Odds Nyquist will win the Triple Crown 2-1 Odds a horse that did not run in the Kentucky Derby will win the Preakness 17-3 Over-under on the number of NBC personalities who will pick against Nyquist in the Preakness 1.5 Wacky Prop Bets Over-under on the number of kegs consumed in the Pimlico infield on the day of the Preakness 1,000 Over/under on the number of fights in the Pimlico Continue Reading

The winner of the 2016 Preakness Stakes will be … the Daily News’ pick for today’s race

BALTIMORE — A look at the field for the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, 6:18 PM: 1. CHERRY WINE: If late-running colt gets a quick enough pace could launch a closing bid. 2. UNCLE LINO: If you think West Coast horses are as superior to their East Coast counterparts this year, you may want use this son of Uncle Mo in exotic wagers. 3. NYQUIST: Undefeated Kentucky Derby winner won Florida Derby over wet track ... hasn’t set a foot wrong yet, and it would take a top effort by one of the new shooters to stop him ... what’s not to like, other than the price? 4. AWESOME SPEED: Got his second stakes win via disqualification in Federico Tesio ... big step up here but has services of hot 21-year-old Maryland jockey. 5. EXAGGERATOR: Seems to have bounced back from fourth career loss to Nyquist in good form ... Can rain cause this late-running colt to move up more than 1¼ lengths from his runner-up finish in the Derby? 6. LANI: Japanese connections have taken unusual training route with this often-flighty colt ... if he breaks alertly the gray son of Tapit could be a factor. 7. COLLECTED: Watch for him to be up close with Nyquist in the front end, and it wouldn’t be a shocker to see him get a piece of purse. 8. LAOBAN: Won’t win, although you may see him at the front of the pack early. 9. ABIDING STAR: Knows how to win ... shooting for sixth straight, but has yet to face this type of competition. 10. FELLOWSHIP: Made presence felt on Derby trail this spring in Florida, including third to Nyquist in the Florida Derby ... hasn’t notched a single win in four other starts this year. 11. STRADIVARI: Eye-catching winner of an allowance race at Keeneland ... reminds some of lightly raced Bernardini, the 2006 Preakness winner ... has blown away last two fields by nearly 26 lengths. THE DAILY NEWS PICKS ... 1. Exaggerator: Sure he Continue Reading

Preakness Stakes: 15 fun facts about the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown

The 2016 Preakness Stakes has arrived. While the main storyline surrounds Kentucky Derby winner, and 5-7 Preakness Stakes favorite, Nyquist and his quest for the Triple Crown, here are 15 other interesting facts about the Preakness Stakes. 1. The Vitals This year marks the 141st installment of the Preakness Stakes. Post time is scheduled for 6:18 p.m. EST. Fans can either watch the race live on NBC, or online at NBCSports.com. 2. Old, Very Old Pimlico Race Course first opened in Baltimore, Maryland on Oct. 25, 1870. It is the second oldest racetrack in the country, behind only Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. 3. Oh, Governor The Pimlico Race Course was originally built so former Maryland Governor Oden Bowie and his friends, horse racing enthusiasts, could race horses against one another. At a dinner party in 1868, Bowie and his friends agreed to hold a race in two years where the winner would host the losers for dinner. Despite both Saratoga and the America Jockey Club wanting to host the event, Bowie decided to build a brand new racetrack in his home state of Maryland for the occasion. 4. Blanket statement The Black-Eyed Susan Blanket, awarded to the winner of the Preakness, was first presented in 1940. The blanket measures 18 inches wide and 90 inches in length. It takes eight hours and four people to make it. 5. Any given day, but Sunday Since 1931, the Preakness Stakes has always been held on a Saturday afternoon. However, prior to 1931, the Preakness Stakes was held on other days of the week as well, every day but Sunday that is. Tuesday: 14 times Friday: 13 times Monday: Six times Wednesday: Five times Thursday: Four times Sunday: Never 6. Best owner-trainer duo Prominent racehorse owner George L. Lorillard and trainer R. Wyndham Walden won five straight Preakness races together from 1878-1882, with five different horses. Walden also holds Continue Reading

President and COO of Maryland Jockey Club: Should be more time between Triple Crown races

BALTIMORE — With horse racing facing its longest Triple Crown drought — Affirmed last turned the trick in 1978 — Pimlico’s Tom Chuckas is looking to break away from tradition. Chuckas, president and COO of the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, would like there to be more time between the three races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes — which is run at Pimlico — and the Belmont Stakes. “I’m not anti-tradition,” Chuckas said. “I have great respect for tradition, but the game has changed.” Currently, the Triple Crown is run within a five-week span, with the Derby going to post on the first Saturday in May, followed by the Preakness two weeks later and then the Belmont three weeks after the Preakness. Chuckas, who said he has not had any contact with Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is run, or with the New York Racing Association, which hosts the Belmont , thinks the ideal schedule would be for the Derby to remain on the first Saturday in May, the Preakness to go on the first Saturday in June and the Belmont Stakes to be run on the first Saturday in July. “The breeding has changed. No doubt about it, the breeding has changed,” Chuckas said. “Probably most importantly, the trainer’s philosophy has changed. Art Sherman (the trainer of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome) gave an interview the other day where he said if it wasn’t for the Derby winner to run back in the Preakness he wouldn’t race a horse in two weeks. I had the same conversation with Todd Pletcher and he said the same thing. The philosophy has changed.” Churchill Downs, which wouldn’t have to change the date of the Derby, was open to discussions. “Obviously, we’re happy with our traditional spot on the first Saturday in May, which is a slice of Americana,” spokesman Darren Rogers told the Continue Reading

California Chrome will be allowed to wear nasal strip in chase for Triple Crown at Belmont Park

California Chrome won again. The three stewards at Belmont Park ruled unanimously on Monday that the chestnut colt can wear a nasal strip in his quest for horse racing’s  first Triple Crown in 36 years. On Sunday morning, the day after capturing the Preakness Stakes, trainer Art Sherman threatened to keep the colt out of the June 7 Belmont Stakes if California Chrome was not allowed to wear the strip that allows him to breathe better. The New York stewards — Stephen Lewandowski, representing the New York State Gaming Commission; Dr. Ted Hill, who represents the Jockey Club; and Braulio Baeza Jr., who represents the New York Racing Association — made their decision after consulting with Scott Palmer, the commission’s equine medical director. In a statement released by the NYRA, , the Jockey Club and the NYSGC, Palmer said, “I recommend that the stewards at state-based thoroughbred racetracks discontinue their ban on equine nasal strips. Equine nasal strips do not enhance equine performance nor do they pose a risk to equine health or safety and as such do not need to be regulated.” Now, New York will join all the other racing jurisdictions that allow their use, including Kentucky and Maryland, where the Derby and the Preakness, respectively, are run. The stewards had the final say regarding nasal strips in New York due to Rule 4033.8 in the gaming commision’s rule book, which states, “Only equipment specifically approved by the stewards shall be worn or carried by a jockey or a horse in a race.” Finger Lakes Race Track in western New York, is now also considering permitting nasal strips. All harness tracks in New York allow them. “We didn’t think it would be an issue,” said Alan Sherman, the assistant to Art Sherman, his father. “It’s just something else for people to worry Continue Reading

Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another returns to track in preparation for Preakness Stakes

Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another returned to the track Wednesday afternoon for the first time since his Kentucky Derby victory, jogging a mile at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, preparing for his next start in the May 19 Preakness Stakes.Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill. “His energy level is fantastic, something that we want to see his first time back on the track. You wouldn’t want to see him with his head down going along there.”Bob Baffert reported that Bodemeister, who is named after Baffert’s 7-year-old son Bode, “looked happy” being back on the track. With the possible presence of both I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister, a full field of 14 is expected to go to postward as there are 18 possible starters. In addition to definite starters Went the Day Well, Creative Cause, Hansen and Optimizer, others considering the race are Brimstone Island, Cozzetti, Hierro, Paynter, Pretension, Tiger Walk, Liaison, Zetterholm, Isn’t He Clever, Dullahan, Teeth of the Dog and Guyana Star Dweej.Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont, but the connections of both horses would rather run in the Preakness if their horse can draw into the field.Haskell Day, when the first post will be noon. Monmouth will also offer four twilight racing cards — on the last four Thursdays in August — when post time will be 4 p.m. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

136th Preakness Stakes: Complete field, post, horse, jockey, trainer, odds at Pimlico Race Course

The running of the 136th Preakness Stakes has a 6:20 p.m. EST post time Saturday from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and will be televised on NBC (Ch. 4). Here is the field for Saturday's 1-3/16 mile race, including post position, horse, jockey, trainer, odds and analysis: UPDATE: Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is currently the favorite for today's Preakness. At 3:20 p.m., Animal Kingdom was the 3-1 favorite over Derby favorite Dialed In, who finished eighth, and is currently the 7-2 second-choice. The updated odds in post position order: Astrology 15-1, Norman Asbjornson 35-1, King Congie 17-1, Flashpoint 20-1, Shackleford 12-1, Sway Away 14-1, Midnight Interlude 12-1, Dance City 11-1, Mucho Macho Man 9-2, Dialed In 7-2, Animal Kingdom 3-1, Isn't He Perfect 25-1, Concealed Identity 24-1 and Mr. Commons 45-1. Animal Kingdom was made the 2-1 morning line favorite, while Dialed In was installed as the second-choice at 9-2. * * * PURSE: $1 million; Last year's winner: Lookin at Lucky. 1. Astrology, Mike Smith (jockey), Steve Asmussen (trainer), 15-1Rachel Alexandra, respectively. 2. Norman Asbjornson, Julian Pimentel (jockey), Christopher Grove (trainer), 30-1Wood Memorial but trainer has been pointing for this spot, as Grove was the leading trainer in Maryland in 2010, winning 94 races from 546 starts. Norman Asbjornson is by Real Quiet, who won the 1998 Derby and Preakness before falling inches short of the Triple Crown in the Belmont. This will be the first Preakness starter for both Pimentel and Grove, whose father, Phil, a steward at Pimlico, will not be in the booth for the race. 3. King Congie, Robby Albarado (jockey), Thomas Albertrani (trainer), 20-1Hallandale Beach before coming up a head short in the Blue Grass. All eyes will be on Albarado, who won this race in 2007 with Curlin, as he was bumped from his Derby mount - eventual winner Animal Kingdom. Albertrani won this race with his only starter - Bernardini in 2006. 4. Continue Reading

Bob Baffert, Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah’s trainer, expects things to settle down in Baltimore before Preakness Stakes

LOUISVILLE — Despite the unrest in Baltimore, the Preakness Stakes will still be held on May 16, with the top three finishers from the Kentucky Derby expected to start. Trainer Bob Baffert, who will enter Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah and third-place finisher Dortmund in the second leg of the Triple Crown, experienced a similar situation during the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King verdict. RELATED: TOP FINISHERS AT KENTUCKY DERBY TO RUN PREAKNESS STAKES Baffert lived in Los Angeles at the time and trained at nearby Hollywood Park, which was forced to shut down for several days. “I think the people will settle down and things will get worked out,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “Life still goes on.” Officials at Pimlico Race Course, where the Preakness will be run, have been monitoring the situation in Baltimore since the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American who died while in police custody. “The Maryland Jockey Club, Pimlico Race Course and the City of Baltimore are looking forward to celebrating the 140th Preakness Stakes,” said Sal Sinatra, the vice president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “We are committed to thoroughbred racing in Maryland and we look forward to Preakness 140.” Simon Callaghan, the 32-year-old who trains Derby runner-up Firing Line has already discussed the situation with owner Arnold Zetcher. “It’s something we were talking about with Arnold this morning,” Callaghan said. “It’s definitely something to look into further and to discuss in more detail and see if there are any risks involved. We are conscious of it, but the plan is still to leave on Wednesday (May 13). “I think the police will keep it settled. But I would not be shocked if there was kind of a demonstration the day of the Preakness. It’s a Continue Reading