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Post Time: Dialing for Dollars

 By Gene Kershner

  The Kentucky Derby trail is off and running and an interesting horse emerged from Sunday's $400,000 Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes. Dialed In, a Mineshaft colt, saved ground early after being taken back 15 lengths from the leaders and overcame 14-1 Sweet Ducky in the final furlong to win by 1 1/2 lengths. He earned $240,000 of graded earnings to put him in excellent position to garner one of the prestigious starting gates for the Run for the Roses on May 7 at Churchill Downs. 
 Dialed In ($7.40) covered the mile distance on a fast track in 1:35.19 for trainer Nick Zito, who finished second in last year's Kentucky Derby with Ice Box. Jockey Julien Leparoux conducted a terrific ground saving trip on the rail before veering outside at the top of the stretch to overtake Sweet Ducky, Gourmet Dinner and Mucho Macho Man down the stretch. 
 Dialed In is also eligible for a $5.5 million dollar bonus for any horse that wins the Holy Bull, the Florida Derby and the Preakness. You can bet we'll see him in the gate on April 3 at Gulfstream Park for the second leg of the potential bonus bonanza.
 The next two months will see many of the top horses scrambling to attain those precious graded stakes dollars to become eligible to enter the Kentucky Derby. February will offer thoroughbreds several bites at the apple at venues such as Santa Anita, Tampa Bay Downs, Oaklawn Park, Fair Grounds and Gulfstream.
 February's schedule of graded stakes for 3-year olds is as follows:
 February 12 Tampa Bay Downs Grade 3 $225,000 Sam F. Davis
 February 12 Santa Anita Park Grade 3 $250,000 Robert B. Lewis
 February 19 Fair Grounds Grade 2 $300,000 Risen Star
 February 20 Santa Anita Park Grade 2 $150,000 San Vicente S.
 February 21 Oaklawn Park Grade 3 $250,000 Southwest S.
 February 26 Gulfstream Park Grade 3 $150,000 Hutcheson S.
 February 26 Gulfstream Park Grade 2 $400,000 Fountain of Youth S.


 Other Derby Notes
  • Gourmet Dinner, who ran third to Dialed In, earned another $40,000, giving him $700,000 which virtually assures him of a spot in the Derby.
• 2-year old champion Uncle Mo registered his first workout of the season, going a rather routine 39.80 for three furlongs at Palm Meadows on Sunday. Trainer Todd Pletcher is most likely going to run Uncle Mo only twice before the Derby. The most likely places we'll see him are in the Tampa Bay Derby in March and the Wood Memorial in April.
• Pletcher also worked out two of his other top 3-year-olds on Sunday at Palm Meadows. A colt that we'll see in the Post Time Derby Dozen next week, Brethren, went five furlongs in 1:02.20. Brethren should see his next race in the Sam Davis at Tampa. Stay Thirsty worked three furlongs in 36.95, registering a bullet for the distance preparing for his next race, most likely the Gotham at Aqueduct in March.


 Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer, handicapper and member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A Super beatdown

   January 31, 1993 -- We're finally done reviewing Super Bowls. The news doesn't get any better here.

   The score in Super Bowl XXVII says everything about how this day went -- Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17. This was not the way the Bills wanted their third straight Super Bowl appearance to go. 

   The game, played in the Rose Bowl, might be best remembered for Don Beebe catching Leon Lett from behind and swatting the ball out of Lett's hands to prevent a touchdown. It was a rather meaningless play, unless you hoped the Cowboys could win 59-17.

   This was Buffalo's worst postseason loss and one of the highest point totals allowed in team history.

   "Obviously, this is embarrassing to us, and to the organization," said linebacker Shane Conlan. "Are we going to be labeled like (four-time Super Bowl losers) Denver and Minnesota are labeled? It is something we are going to have to live with. I'd rather be there than not, but . . ." 

   Bills head coach Marv Levy said, "I told the players after the game, 'You don't want to hear a speech from me now. We're all hurting and speeches won't make it go away. We'll talk about it in depth at our team meeting on Tuesday.' "

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Woe for four, indeed

   January 30, 1994 -- The headline in The Buffalo News the next day was "Woe for Four!" That was a pretty good description of the Buffalo Bills' fourth straight Super Bowl loss -- this time it was to the Dallas Cowboys, a 30-13 loss in Atlanta. The headline was quoted on ABC's national newscast the next night.

   The Cowboys won their second straight title. It wasn't as convincing as the previous year's 35-point blowout, but it was more than good enough.

   The Bills seemed to be in good shape for a half. Buffalo had a 13-6 lead at that point and were playing well. Then early in the third quarter, Buffalo's Thurman Thomas fumbled and safety James Washington scooped up the ball and ran 46 yards for a touchdown.

    The Cowboys scored 24 straight points to break the game open.

    "That's probably going to be part of our identity for years and years to come -- that we lost four Super Bowls in a row," the Bills' Steve Tasker said.

   Tasker turned out to be a very good prophet.

--- Budd Bailey

Live from the Air Canada Centre: Bandits vs. Rock

6:39 p.m. -- Road trip.

The Bandits are back on the road for the third time in four games, as they play they Rock in Toronto. The two teams played a classic last week, as Buffalo won in overtime after blowing a big lead in the fourth quarter. It looks like we have a pretty good crowd tonight; one of the ushers thought it might rank as one of the top nights of the season.

This is becoming a rather mixed-up season, and we're not even out of January. Philadelphia, everyone's pick to be the East doormat, beat Boston, a possible title contender, Friday night. So the Blazers are in last place in the East.

7:00 p.m. - Scratches for Buffalo are the same as last week -- Ian Llord, Travis Irving and Darryl Gibson.

Based on the opening introductions, the Rock hasn't turned down the volume in its p.a. announcements. Aspirin all around. And it's a very odd ticket distribution here, as the fans are really scattered around the building.

7:11 p.m. -- One surprise already - Angus Goodleaf is the starting goalie. And we've already had a couple of fights less than two minutes in.

7:15 p.m. -- Each team has had a player ejected (Frank Resetarits for Buffalo), and then peace lasted about seven seconds before more hostilities broke out. It's going to be a long night at this rate.

7:18 p.m. - Brandon Francis of the Bandits has been excused for the evening.

7:24 p.m. -- With the score 1-0, Toronto, Tom Montour drew a penalty when he charged to the net ... and prompted another scrum. I see six Bandits in the penalty box. There are four Rock players similarly imprisoned. I assume Toronto's goalie, Bob Watson, picked up something for his trouble as he was throwing punches.

These two teams had a famous preseason game that had to be cancelled in the third quarter because all of the outbursts. Those were all rookies and tryout candidates though. What's the excuse here?

7:30 p.m. -- The officials are still sorting out the penalties. Good luck.

7:34 p.m. -- The Bandits have a 4-on-3 power play. I have no idea why. But Steve Priolo and Brenden Thenhaus have been excused for the night as well, at least according to the announcement.

7:39 p.m. -- The first half of the first period is over. I counted seven Toronto guys in the penalty box until a few were "set free." Toronto still leads, 10.  At this rate, the game will be done about midnight, and the coaching staffs will fill out the rosters.

7:50 p.m. -- Thenhaus just took a shot on goal, which probably means there was an error made on the announcement of a game misconduct. Of course, I'm not too sure about anything. But at least the penalty boxes are about empty.

7:54 p.m. -- We're done with a quarter, finally. Toronto had a 2-1 lead, with Brett Bucktooth getting the lone Buffalo goal. There was a little more flow to the final minutes of the period.

8:01 p.m. -- By the way, the media guide doesn't have a team record for penalty minutes in a game.

8:08 p.m. -- We're still at 2-1 with 8:13 to play in the half. Buffalo had 70 penalty minutes in the first quarter, while Toronto had 62. It's almost amazing that there has only been one power-play goal so far, the one by Bucktooth.'

8:17 p.m. -- The Rock has a 3-1 lead now, as Blaine Manning scored. Buffalo has had some shots on goal but few really great chances.

8:24 p.m. -- And that's the way it winds up after 30 minutes: 3-1, Toronto.

8;42 p.m. -- We're underway in the second half. The Bandits were a little slow coming out for the half. Think Darris Kilgour had something to say about the offense?

8:50 p.m. -- The Bandits have not shown an signs of offensive life so far in the second half. Meanwhile, Toronto has two goals to make it 5-1 with nine minutes to go in the third quarter.

8:58 p.m. -- Colin Doyle scored the goal of the year for Toronto. With his back to the goal and Clay Hill draped on him, Doyle flipped a no-look shot past Goodleaf for the score. Very impressive. It's 6-1 with 3:20 left in the third quarter, and the Bandits' offense continues to make too many mistakes to generate many chances.

9:03 p.m. -- Found it. The previous Bandits record for most penalty minutes in a game was 64. They went past that in the first quarter. We're done with 45 minutes.

9:15 p.m. -- The Bandits have a power-play advantage, and after a Roger Vyse goal (making it 6-2) could at least make things interesting with a goal here.

9:21 p.m. -- It's more than interesting, thanks to Chad Culp and Mark Steenhuis. Buffalo had cut the lead to 6-4.

9:28 p.m. -- The Bandits' record for PIM by both teams combined in a game has falled. A Clay Hill slash has run the total to 154, one more than the 2009 game between Buffalo and Portland produced. We're still at 6-4 with 4:39 left.

9:37 p.m. -- 7-5 Toronto with a minute to go. But with 17.9 seconds left, Doyle ends the suspense with an empty-netter. We're done for the night with a 8-5 Toronto win.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The majors in Buffalo?

   January 29, 1960 -- Baseball fever broke out throughout Western New York on this date. Briefly.

   The Continental League announced that its eighth franchise had been awarded to Buffalo. You may not have heard of the circuit, because it never played a game.

   The Continental League was organized by legendary baseball executive Branch Rickey. The idea was to set up eight expansion teams who had their own league within the structure of major league baseball. That way there wouldn't be pressure to keep up with the Yankees and teams like that. Call it something of a back door method of expansion. The idea was to get into the majors, which had been at 16 teams since the previous turn of the century.

   A Buffalo group was formed and was the final team to be accepted. Robert Swados, who later became involved in the original ownership group of the Buffalo Sabres, was one of the key figures in the baseball group locally.

   After lots of posturing and jockeying, the major leagues decided it would be easier to expand by four teams in 1961/62 than to start an entirely new league. So teams went to Los Angeles, Washington, New York and Houston. That left Denver, Dallas, Atlanta and Buffalo out. (Minneapolis was one of the original Continental League teams, but the Senators moved there and were immediately replaced by an expansion team.)

   The biggest legacy to the Continental League might be that the Buffalo Bisons moved from Offermann Stadium to War Memorial Stadium, in part because of its larger seating capacity. Some old-timers are still upset about that one.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The Juice

   January 28, 1969 -- Some years are better than others to earn the first overall draft choice. The Buffalo Bills picked a good one. 

   The reward for the Bills' dreary year (1-12-1) came on this date, as they selected O.J. Simpson with the draft pick. There was absolutely no suspense to the pick. 

   Simpson was one of the greatest running backs in the history of college football. He had run for 1,709 yards and 22 touchdowns for Southern California, numbers that helped him win the Heisman Trophy. In truth, Simpson may have deserved the Heisman in his junior year as well, although Gary Beban of UCLA beat him out.

   Simpson was going to a team a long way from his native California, but didn't complain for long.   

   "If there was any disappointment about being drafted by Buffalo, it's over," he said. "I know I should accept things as they are, and I'm anxious to get started. It's a great honor to be drafted number one. I'm awfully proud of that."

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Brrrr

You wouldn't expect the Penguin Run to be staged in summer-like conditions, right? The annual race will be held in Amherst on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. Registration takes place the Classics V Restaurant on Niagara Falls Blvd. Call 549.6307 ext 201. It's certainly one of the best lunches, and nicest sweatshirts, of the entire year. It's just that it can, um, cold. Looks like I'll be wearing half of my closet to the race, based on the forecast.

There's one other race this weekend. The Resolution Run (5K) will take place on Saturday at 12861 Route 438 in Irving. Starting time is 10:30 a.m. Call 532-9225.

As usual, race information comes from buffalorunners.com.

Elsewhere, some local runners watched their televisions in slow-motion over the past couple of weeks, as MTV aired the "Made" episode that climaxed with footage of the Seneca Falls' "It's a Wonderful Race." Most people were more of less blocked out for whatever reason. I didn't get any "face time" on the program, but you could see my bright orange Syracuse Santa hat and my Medaille College wind shirt if you looked really, really carefully. For a silly essay on my split-second of "fame," click here.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Make room for Marv

   January 27, 2001 -- When Marv Levy arrived in Buffalo to coach the Bills in 1986, it's fair to say that immortality did not seem to be right around his corner. Levy had only one stint as an NFL coach at that point, and he had one winning season in five years with the Kansas City Chiefs. What's more he was 61 when he was picked as a midseason replacement for Hank Bullough.

     Marv certainly got the last laugh. The Bills won 112 regular-season games in 12 years during Levy's time in Buffalo. You may have heard something about four straight Super Bowl appearances, still the only team to do that.

     Levy's ultimate reward came on this day, when he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

     "There are a lot of emotions, and I can hardly sort them out," Levy said in the ballroom of the Tampa Convention Center after the announcement was made. "Gratitude is the main one, certainly to the board of selectors but to everybody who made it possible. That includes the Buffalo fans, who were such a part of the thrilling decade I spent there."

     Levy became the third person associated with the Bills to enter the Hall, joining O.J. Simpson and Billy Smith. Some of the others in the Class of 2001 were Ron Yary, Lynn Swann and Nick Buoniconti.

     "When I heard my name, the names of thousands of people who I've known in 47 years of coaching flashed through my mind," Levy said. "I can't begin to name them all and thank everybody ... beginning with Ralph Wilson, who I know will be standing here soon in a future year and is very deserving." 

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Super thumping

     January 26, 1992 -- The Washington Redskins of the 1991-92 season were a very good team, even if they aren't that well-remembered when compared to the great San Francisco, Dallas and, yes, Buffalo teams of that era.

   The Bills certainly remember them. They lost to the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI, Buffalo's second straight appearance in the NFL championship game. What's more, it wasn't that close. The Bills self-destructed with five turnovers and lost to the Redskins, 37-24, in the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

   Buffalo's Jim Kelly was 28 of 58 for 275 yards, with four interceptions and five sacks. Thomas ran 10 times for 13 yards.

   Meanwhile, Washington's Mark Rypien earned Most Valuable Player trophy by going 18 of 33 for 292 yards and two touchdowns.

   "Defeats are very bitter, and I can't remember one in 40 years of coaching that was more hurtful than today," said Bills coach Marv Levy. "Overall, we played a team that was better and they showed it."

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Locke-d out of a job

    January 25, 1977 -- When it comes to coaching in Buffalo, it's fair to say Tates Locke never had much of a chance. 

    Locke was hired as the replacement for Jack Ramsey in the summer of 1976. Ramsey went on to coach the Portland Trailblazers, and you know how that worked out ... for him. Ramsey led Bill Walton and Co. to a championship. 

     Locke, who as head coach at Army hired a young assistant named Bobby Knight, had a tougher time. John Y. Brown became the team's part-owner around that time, and he made things, um, difficult. Brown brought several new faces in that season. Adrian Dantley was the team's first-round draft choice, and Moses Malone was acquired in a deal. But Malone didn't work out, and then Locke saw his superstar, Bob McAdoo, traded to the Knicks in December, 1976. That took the life out of the franchise, essentially forever.

    The Braves fell to 16-30 by January 1977, so Locke became the scapegoat. Bob MacKinnon replaced him on an interim basis.

     Locke went on to coach at Indiana State and Jacksonville. By the way, supposedly his life was used for a basis of the movie, "Blue Chips," starring Nick Nolte and Jim Boeheim. (Syracuse coach Boeheim actually only had a cameo, but I've always wanted to write that last sentence.)

   For more on the 1976-77 Braves, click here.

--- Budd Bailey

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