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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The best in Buffalo

     February 23, 1982 -- The Buffalo Stallions were still a popular attraction when they won the right to host the Major Indoor Soccer League's All-Star Game in 1983. The most impressive part of the night might have been the crowd. 

    A gathering of 13,426 turned out in Memorial Auditorium for the contest. The fans got to see an outstanding performance by Tony Glavin.  

    The St. Louis Steamers forward had three goals and two assists to win most valuable player honors. He sparked a West victory over the East, 9-5. Glavin scored 50 goals for the Steamers that season. 

     The league was full of talent that season, as three teams from the North American Soccer League came over to play with the MISL for a season. Some of the stars of the league were Steve Zungel, Stan Stamenkovic, Juli Veee, Kai Haaskavi and Stan Terlecki. Buffalo's top scorer was Carlos Salguero.

     But it was Glavin's night. The forward apparently found a home in the St. Louis area, as he runs soccer camps there at last report.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A second chance

     February 22, 1985 -- The Buffalo Bills had the first overall draft choice in 1972, and took a defensive end. Walt Patulski, it's fair to say, didn't work out.

     Buffalo did better when it had the chance in 1985.

     There was some pressure on the Bills from the public to take a quarterback from Boston College named Doug Flutie. But there were questions about Flutie, and he eventually signed with the United States Football League.

     Besides, Bill Polian -- then a rising executive in the Bills' front office -- had other ideas. He negotiated a contract with Bruce Smith, a defensive end from Virginia Tech. Smith had won the Outland Trophy, which goes to college football's best lineman. He had 22 sacks in his junior year alone. Smith was 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds, and amazingly quick.

     The negotiations weren't easy -- Polian supposedly even got into a three-point stance to demonstrate a point during the talks -- but the two sides came together when before the 1985 draft. Smith reportedly signed for $2.6 million over four years.

     It took Smith a little time to get the hang of playing in the NFL. But once he did, he was destined for the Hall of Fame. In fact, there's only one player who went in the first round of the '85 draft that might have been a better choice. But no one knew Jerry Rice would become that good.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Mucho Macho Man, The Factor win weekend preps

By Gene Kershner

Last weekend’s Derby prep races didn’t disappoint with Mucho Macho Man ($9.20) winning the Grade 2 Risen Star and The Factor ($3.80), the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes, both in impressive fashion. 

If you boxed Post Time’s Risen Star Pick in any of the exotics of Macho, Santiva, Rogue Romance and Machen, you would have been doing the YMCA dance in hitting the $1 exacta ($35.90), $1 trifecta ($126.00) and $1 superfecta ($349.70). After the scratches of the Geier entry in the second leg, we made a substitution in Demarcation (who won), but fell a nose short in the Post Time Pick 4 play when 32-1 Expansion nipped Sleepless Knight in a photo finish. 

Mucho Macho Man was much the best at the Fair Grounds when he outkicked his rivals in the stretch.  The winner most likely solidified a spot in the gate at Churchill Downs for the Derby, adding $180,000 to his graded earnings bringing his total to $270,000. Post Time Derby Dozen No. 9 horse Santiva finished second, with the added distance could also be one to watch come Derby day.

The victory flatters top ranked Post Time Derby Dozen horse, To Honor and Serve, who he finished second to twice last fall at Aqueduct in Grade 2 races. The Macho Uno colt has a solid wet pedigree, so if it comes up muddy at the Derby, don’t discount the Macho Man. In the Kentucky Derby Future Pool 1, Mucho Macho Man closed at odds of 30-1.

On the left coast, The Factor (Post Time Derby Dozen No. 4) won the 7-furlong affair at Santa Anita Park showing blazing speed through the first six furlongs going 1:07.31.  He had enough left in the tank to hold off the late closing Sway Away, who is one to keep an eye on. After watching the race, The Factor seems to be more suited to be a sprinter or miler than being able to handle the 1 1/4 mile Run for the Roses. The Factor closed at odds of 25-1 in Futures Pool 1.

Uncle Mo, currently the prohibitive favorite, closed Futures Pool 1 at 7/2 and the “all others” mutuel field closed as the favorite at 2-1. The win pool finished with over $480,000 wagered, combined with the exacta pool was the second highest Kentucky Derby Futures Pool ever.

Post Time made two Futures wagers, going with 35-1 Santiva after the second place Risen Star showing and 10-1 To Honor and Serve. Both horses figure to have enough graded earnings to be in the starting gate on May 7, barring injury.

President’s Day provides us with yet another Derby prep to be held at Oaklawn Park, the one mile Grade 3 Southwest Stakes. We’re going to try and take a stand against 9-5 morning line favorite JP’s Gusto, who will be running on dirt for only the second time. Although he has Eclipse winning jock Ramon Dominguez shipping in for the ride, his only effort on the dirt was a dismal effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November.

Calvin Borel rides Elite Alex (4-1 ML) for the second time for trainer Tim Ritchey. He lost his second race by a head after breaking badly causing him to go five wide. The Afleet Alex colt looks to be fit based on his work tab and he’ll be our Post Time selection for win honors.

Caleb’s Posse (9-2 ML) won the one mile $100,000 Smarty Jones over the Arkansas track and should be in the mix coming off the red-hot rail that is winning at a 21% clip. We’ll tab him to complete the exacta with Elite Alex.

Horses to complete the trifecta include Yankee Passion, trained by Larry Jones and Michael Maker’s Ghost to Clear. Yankee Passion tries a route distance for the first time, had a bullet workout last week and comes in second off the layoff where trainer Jones has a 25% win rate. Ghost to Clear ships in from the Fair Grounds where he won a sharp 6-furlong effort last month. The Ghostzapper colt has the pedigree to get the mile and the lightly raced colt should improve in his second route race for Maker.

Good luck and let’s go cash some tickets!

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 big loss

     February 21, 1974 -- This certainly ranks as one of the saddest days in Buffalo sports history. Buffalo fans woke up to the news that Sabres' defenseman Tim Horton had died at the age of 44.

     Horton had been a big part of the Sabres' surprising playoff run in 1972-73, and he came back to play another season in 1973-74. In fact, as part of the deal general manager Punch Imlach agreed to buy Horton a fancy, fast car.

     Horton had performed well the night before in Maple Leaf Gardens, as he was named one of the game's stars despite leaving early because of injury. Horton was speeding back toward Buffalo at more than 100 mph, and missed a turn in St. Catharines. He ran into a concrete culvert and died.

     An autopsy released in 2005 reported that Horton's blood alcohol test was twice the legal limit. Public relations director Paul Wieland was called that night, and he and coach Joe Crozier went to Ontario to identify the body.

     The team members were crushed. Jim Schoenfeld, a second-year defenseman, practically looked at Horton as a father figure, and the rest of the team looked up to the eventual Hall of Famer.

     Horton's name is best known now, at least by the public at large, for a chain of coffee/doughnut shops in Canada and border areas like Buffalo. He had helped start it in 1966. But Horton will always be remembered here for his brief career as a Sabre.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Good morning!

     February 20, 1998 -- The Buffalo Blizzard never had a better morning, or day, at least in terms of attendance on this date.

     It was School Day in HSBC Arena, and the team attracted 15,644. That set a record for the franchise, which had been around for six years.  The previous record was set on Nov. 15, 1996, when the team played its first game in HSBC Arena, with the Detroit Rockers providing the opposition.

      The game wasn't as successful. Matt Knowles of the Philadelphia Kixx scored four goals in a 13-11 victory.

     The 6-foot-1 Knowles, good enough to be the National Professional Soccer League's Defender of the Year twice at the time, was the difference-maker. The game featured two ties and four lead changes.

      The list of Buffalo goal scorers might bring back some memories. Doug Miller scored twice for Buffalo, which also got goals from Rudy Pikuzinski, Randy Pikuzinski, Jimmy Glenn, Doug Miller and Nassib Olabi.

--- Budd Bailey

Live from HSBC Arena: Bandits vs. Wings

7:27 p.m. -- It's another Saturday night in Buffalo, and the Bandits are back in action. They come into the game with a 4-2 record, and the opposition will be provided by the Philadelphia Wings ... again. This is the third meeting of the season already, and Buffalo has won the first two meetings. A third win would be a nice boost for the Bandits heading into the All-Star break. On the other hand, Philadelphia is 3-4 and in danger of falling out of the division race. We are likely to see a desperate team come out of the visiting locker room.

The scratches for the game are out. Travis Irving is having some concussion issues from last week's fight, so he'll sit. Darryl Gibson and Jay Thorimbert are all sitting up in the press box with me.

That means there is a new faces in action. Ben McCullough is up from the practice squad. He is a defender who was a second-round draft choice.

Angus Goodleaf is tonight's starting goalie. Coach Darris Kilgour said he wanted to give Mike Thompson a nice rest, and give Goodleaf a start at home.

7:43 p.m. -- John Tavares was given a framed Bandits jersey, number 700, to mark his milestone goal from last week. Nice touch by the team.

7:46 p.m. -- And speaking of milestones, Tavares just assisted on Brenden Thenhaus' goal. That is point number 1500 for his career. Time to order another jersey.

7:53 p.m. -- A disallowed Buffalo goal (crease violation) seems to have given the Wings some flight. They have scored twice to take a 2-1 lead with 8:10 left in the first quarter.

7:59 p.m. -- The Bandits offense has been just a touch off so far in this one. They haven't gotten a great many shots in good position, and that's contributed to the 2-1 deficit with 4:46 left in the quarter.

8:07 p.m. -- Steve Priolo went charging after a Philadelphia player, threw a few punches, and seems to have been excused for the evening. He picked up two for instigating, five for fighting and a game misconduct. It's a seven-minute power play for the Wings. There was some jawing between sides after the initial incident. Why do I have the feeling Brandon Francis will be dropping his gloves soon?

8:11 p.m. -- The Wings have a 3-1 lead after the first quarter, thanks to a power-play goal by Alex Turner. Not Buffalo's best quarter of the season, by any means.

8:15 p.m. -- By the way, the ice cream freezer is gone from the press box. Did Tom Golisano pick it up with his other possessions?

8:21 p.m. -- The Bandits have bounced back from the seven-minute penalty, and are still only down by 4-3. There's 9:46 left in the first half. Tom Montour had a big breakaway short-handed goal to keep Buffalo in the hunt. By the way, Athan Iannucci of the Wings chased Montour, who is pretty quick. Iannucci had a very bad knee injury a couple of seasons ago, but he showed pretty good wheels there.

8:31 p.m. -- We've had a flurry of penalties lately, leading to some power plays, but no scoring. Buffalo had a 5-on-3 PP for a short time but only had time for one good shot.

8:44 p.m. -- Buffalo had used a couple of power-play goals to get back to even at 5-5 at the half.

9:05 p.m. -- We're back for second half action. Angus Goodleaf had a good half in goal, with a couple of good saves.

9:11 p.m. -- It's been a back-and-forth game. Mark Steenhuis drove to the net and scored, but picked up a penalty for goaltender interference. Philadelphia came down on the power play and scored, so we're at 6-6 wwith 8:27 left in the third quarter.

9:19 p.m. -- It's another game misconduct for Buffalo, this time on Ben McCullough. This stuff has been costly tonight and at times throughout the season. The Wings have a 7-6 lead with 4:28 left in the third quarter.

9:28 p.m. -- We're done with three quarters, and this one still has to be decided. Philadelphia has an 8-7 lead in a game with little to no flow because of a steady stream of penalties. The officials are working hard, but it has detracted from the entertainment value of the game a bit.

9:40 p.m. -- It looks like we're headed to another close finish. Tracey Kelusky's goal at 5:10 tied the game at 9-9. I smell a one-goal decision, possibly in overtime.

9;50 p.m. -- No change in the score, as we're down to 4:23 left. Time to get out the silly cliche -- the next goal will be a big one. (Sorry.)

9:57 p.m. -- The Wings take the lead, 10-9, with a minute left. Drew Westervelt had the goal.

9:59 p.m. -- Buffalo has the ball in the final seconds, but can't score. And this one belongs to the Wings.

11:39 p.m. -- Most of the locker room talk was about the penalties. Philly was 6 or 9 with the man advantage, while Buffalo was 1 of 6.

"Great teams overcome that. I guess we're just a good team right now," Bandits coach Darris Kilgour said.

Good night from Banditland. 

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: At their best

     February 19, 1974 -- When the Buffalo Braves were at their best in the 1973-74 season, they could be an awesome offensive machine. That's when Bob McAdoo was scoring, Ernie DiGregorio was dealing, Randy Smith was running, Gar Heard was rebounding, and Jim McMillian was doing a little bit of everything.

     In fact, all five of the Braves' starters averaged in double figures that season, still the only time that's been done in NBA history.

     What's more, the team added some needed depth in a trade completed on February 1. Kevin Kunnert and Dave Wohl were sent to the Houston Rockets for Jack Marin and Matt Goukas.

     The Braves may have peaked on this night in 1974. Against a Milwaukee Bucks team that would go on to lose in the seventh game of the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, the Braves were awesome. They beat the Bucks, 145-109, in Memorial Auditorium. Buffalo shot 66.7 percent from the field, going 62 for 93.

     The Braves went to Toronto two nights later and beat the New York Knicks - the defending NBA Champions - by 22 points. Buffalo soon wrapped up the first playoff berth in team history.

   For more on that season, click here.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Nice while it lasts

     Nobody said being a race director in February was easy.

     For instance ...

     Last week featured two well-attended races, the Lockport Y-10 and the Dash for the Dome. It was under 30 degrees, the wind was blowing hard off the lake, and flurries were in the air. It was tough sledding over 3.1 miles, let alone 10. But that's what runners faced, and a few, no doubt, decided to stay home under the electric blanket.

     Then, a few days later, the warming trend arrived. Runners returned to the streets in large numbers, and the parks were crowded.

     Sure enough, the cold weather was scheduled to return early Saturday morning. It won't be bone-chilling, but it won't be shorts weather for most either. But at least much of the snowpack is gone.

     Here's the weekend calendar, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

     * Sprague Brook Scramble Snowshoe Race, 2.5 miles, Sprague Brook Park in Glenwood, Sunday at 10 a.m., 574-0888.

     * Canisius Chilly Challenge, 5K, 1180 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo, Sunday at noon, 675-9403.

     * Rangus Run, 5K, 12861 Route 438 in Irving, Monday at 10:30 a.m., 532-9225.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Big Easy Takes Center Stage

By Gene Kershner

     We'll turn our sights on the Big Easy this weekend and the Guaranteed $125,000 all-stakes Pick Four at the Fair Grounds. Anchored by a key Kentucky Derby prep race, the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, this Pick Four is one of Post Time's favorite stretches of races to wager on each year.

When the Fair Grounds unveiled the 50 cent Pick Four two years ago, it became a very hittable wager if you can find the right single. Ironically, my single two years ago was the 2-year-old filly, Rachel Alexandra, for whom the first stakes race in the sequence is named.

First Leg -- Race 7 Rachel Alexandra Stakes

     The Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes is named after the 2009 Horse of the Year who had great success at this New Orleans race track. We'll be employing our single in this race with the heavy favorite 3-Kathmanblu (6/5 morning line). Returning to the dirt after an impressive turf win at Gulfstream Park, the 3-year-old filly's connections are obviously shooting for the Kentucky Oaks, and look to use this race as a springboard.  Her biggest challenger looks to be 4-Bouquet Booth (7-2 morning line), a Flower Alley filly who has two straight impressive wins for trainer Stephen Margolis. We'll use the Booth on a backup saver ticket in case Kathmanblu falters.

Second Leg -- Race 8 Mineshaft Stakes

     The Grade 3 Mineshaft is run at 1 1/6 miles for 4-year-olds and up and features two strong 4-year-olds.  Al Stall's star in the making 4-Apart (2-1 morning line favorite) should be the post time favorite and 3-Mission Impazible (3-1 morning line); a horse for the course will be the second choice.  Mission Impazible won last year's Louisiana Derby here at the Fair Grounds and had a strong showing at Gulfstream and should be ready to roll here.  We'll throw the Geier entry (1-Fast Alex and 1A-Country Flavor) into the mix, both horses with solid pedigrees.  Fast Alex is by the 2005 Preakness/Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex and Country Flavor is by the 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker.

Third Leg -- Race 9 Fair Grounds Handicap

     The Grade 3 Fair Grounds H. will be run over the turf course at 1 1/8 miles for 4-year-olds and up. The next two races will be where we'll look for prices and hope that the first two legs are formful. We're going to go five deep in this 12-horse field, in what looks to be a wide open affair. We'll start with 10-Loup Breton (Ireland; 3-1 ML) as trainer Todd Pletcher is 21 percent off the layoff. We'll include 8-Workin for Hops, who has a red hot rider/trainer combination in Anna Napravnik and Michael Stidham, who is winning at a 31 percent clip at the Fair Grounds. The next horse we'll use is a price horse in 5-Sleepless Knight (8-1 ML), who ships in for trainer Kelly Breen, with Jersey Joe Bravo in the irons. He sports a nice recent workout and is second off the layoff. Next we'll add 7-Joinem (10-1), who has won over this turf course and comes in third off the layoff on the form cycle with a hot jockey/trainer combination.  Lastly, we will put 4-Gran Estrano on our ticket, winner of his last two, and also can claim a couple of wins over the Fair Grounds turf course.

Fourth Leg - Race 10 Risen Star Stakes

     The Risen Star features three Post Time Derby Dozen horses, 6-Machen, 1-Rogue Romance and 7-Santiva, who all find a place in our play. Machen is running in his third career race after winning two straight at Fair Grounds in impressive fashion.  Rogue Romance, unraced since hitting the board in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, grabs the rail with jockey Julien Leparoux. The rail has been the place to be during the Fair Grounds meet, horses starting there have won 29 percent of the time. Mike Smith flies in from California to ride Santiva, who had a bullet workout Feb. 12 at Palm Meadows. We'll add 5-Mucho Macho Man to complete our $30 main ticket (1x3x5x4) for $0.50.

Post Time Tickets:

Main Ticket $0.50 Pick Four: 3/1,3,4/4,5,7,8,10/1,5,6,7 = $30
Backup Ticket $0.50 P4: 4/3,4/4,5,8/1,6 = $6

Good luck and let's cash some tickets!

     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: This didn't end well

      February 18, 1997 -- It almost hurts to bring up the name.

     The Bills were hoping to add a little depth to their quarterback position when they acquired Billy Joe Hobert from the Oakland Raiders for a third-round draft pick. Hobert had played in five games in the previous two seasons for the Raiders.

     The Bills hoped Hobert would compete with Todd Collins for the starting quarterback position.

     "I'm very excited about this opportunity," Hobert said to The News' Vic Carucci. "I really appreciate the Bills giving me this chance. I see this as the start of my career. This will be my fifth year coming up in the league and not one time have I had a legitimate chance of fighting for that starting position."

     Hobert had a record of 0-5 as a starter when he arrived in Buffalo. The Bills had liked him in college, and thought he was worth acquiring.

     Sadly, the quarterback is best remembered locally for admitting after a game against New England that he was unprepared to play when forced into the lineup because of an injury. The public outcry was loud, and the Bills released him as quickly as possible.

--- Budd Bailey

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

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.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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