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Post Time: With a Rebel yell

By Gene Kershner

The Derby trail turns to Hot Springs, Ark., this weekend for the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes to be run over 1 1/16 miles. Thirteen colts will try to blaze a path to Louisville. The field includes some extremely promising colts, including trainer Bob Baffert's The Factor, a speedy horse stretching out to 8 1/2 furlongs for the first time.

This race, unlike other prep races thus far, is one that has produced Classic winners over the past 10 years. Lookin at Lucky and Curlin, both Preakness winners, came out of this race victorious, as did Smarty Jones in 2004. One of Post Time's all-time favorite race horses, the late Lawyer Ron, also claimed victory in the 2006 Rebel.

This year's 51st edition of the Rebel should be a good one with various horses jockeying for graded earnings and a spot in the gate on May 7. Let's take a look at the entrants for Saturday's Rebel at Oaklawn Park (Race 10) with analysis (trainer and jockey in parentheses):

1 - Archarcharch (Fires, Court) - The winner of last month's Grade 3 Southwest and currently 19th in graded earnings with $150,000, a first or second place finish would go a long way in getting this one into the Derby. The son of Arch is ridden by Jon Court, who has never ridden a horse in the Derby and would fulfill a dream of his to ride his first Derby horse. Shows a nice workout last week and draws the rail, which has been winning at a 20 percent clip.

2 - Alternation (Von Hemel, Quinonez) - Impressive allowance winner on the Southwest undercard. He shows a couple of decent works in his past performances since his last race. Post Time put him in his Road to the Roses fantasy stable and thinks he has the tools to win this one.

3 - Dreaminofthewin (Trout, Berry) - Hasn't missed the board in five outings, but this crew is tougher than any he's faced to date. He also shows a nice workout but I can't see him overcoming the class of horses entered in here.

4 - Picko's Pride (Robertson, Ocampo) - Comes in with my favorite angle (third off the layoff) where his trainer wins at a 29 percent rate. He was blocked at the quarter pole in the Southwest. Has every reason to improve. Leave him off your tickets at your own peril.

5 - JP's Gusto (Petalino, Dominguez) - Probably favorite, finished second by a length to Archarcharch in the Southwest in only his second race on dirt. Posted a bullet on March 13; he's the one to beat on Saturday.

6 - The Factor (Baffert, Garcia) - Intriguing speed horse who is tough to handle. Trainer Bob Baffert knows what he's doing, although many racing experts think a mile is his limit. The son of War Front (a champion sprinter in his own right) is the wild card in the race and will most likely be on the front end. Depends on the pace he sets and if anyone duels him into submission. Siding elsewhere.

7 - Caleb's Posse (Von Hemel, Razo) - Winner of the $100,000 Smarty Jones early in the Oaklawn meeting. He had a disappointing Southwest, finishing sixth after getting caught in traffic. Just not fast enough to beat the cream of this crop.

8 - Saratoga Red (Lukas, Thompson) - D. Wayne won this race way back in 1989 with Mansastash Ridge and enters Red after a maiden win on a sloppy Oaklawn track. This is quite a jump in class right to a graded stake. His sire, Eddington, was a good race horse. We'll wait and see on this one.

9 - Sway Away (Bonde, Gomez) - Finished strong and almost caught The Factor in the final strides in the 7-furlong San Vicente at Santa Anita Park. A wise guy horse that has generated some significant buzz with his last performance and started showing up on Derby lists everywhere (but mine). His pedigree suggests he can get the distance, and his sire Afleet Alex ran very well on this track. Tough to dismiss.

10 - Elite Alex (Ritchey, Borel) - Took a lot of money at the window in the Southwest and burned his backers, finishing a disappointing third. Another Afleet Alex colt runs third off the layoff. Am I willing to give him another chance? On the fence.

11- Glint (Gorder, Saez) - Winstar sends out the next two colts, this one a Sharp Humor, who ran in the 2006 Derby and is a freshman sire. Impressive in all three starts to date sprinting, this will be his first try at a route, in a graded stake. Not confident enough to back this one.

12 - Bluegrass Jam (Fires, Baze) - Post Time was a big fan of his daddy, Bluegrass Cat, who finished second in the 2006 Derby and Preakness and won the Haskell. His speed figures aren't quite up to the others in here, but he comes in third off the form cycle and has reason to improve. Use underneath in exotics.

13 - JW Blue (Dutrow, Rocco) - Anthony Dutrow's colt sports a win at the distance in allowance company. He posted an impressive workout earlier in the week. The outside post is troubling, but having difficulty tossing him.

Post Time Selections:
 1 - No. 5 JP's Gusto
 2 - No. 2 Alternation
 3 - No. 4 Picko's Pride

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: New champ!

     March 18, 1932 -- It must have been the biggest night in the life of George Nichols of Buffalo. How often does a boxer get to become a champion?

     This was such a night. Nichols earned a 10-round decision of Dave Maier in Chicago. It was good to give Nichols the NBA light-heavyweight championship.

     The sophomore started his career in his native Sandusky, Ohio, in 1921. It took 11 years before he earned a title shot in Chicago Stadium. Nichols went down in the second round, but rallied to earn a split verdict from the judges.

     Nichols apparently made one mistake at that point. He fought five times in the next seven months, including once in Broadway Auditorium in Buffalo, but they were always non-title bouts. Good thing -- he lost four of those fights. Then the NBA took away his title for not defending it.

     Nichols finished his career 82-32-11. He was part of the first class ever inducted into the Buffalo Boxing Hall of Fame (1997).

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A collapse

     March 17, 1936 -- Way back in the 1930's, the Buffalo Bisons' hockey team didn't play in Buffalo. Heck, it didn't play in the United States. The Bisons played in the Peace Bridge Arena in Fort Erie, Ont. The facility was located only a few blocks from the Peace Bridge itself, which opened in 1927, and the hockey team was part of the International Hockey League.

     Fort Erie had become Buffalo's playground in that era, in part because Canada did not observe Prohibition and Canada did not. Western New York still crossed the bridge when that law was repealed. The arena was even used for NHL games in the 1920's when Chicago and Pittsburgh needed a building.

     Then came the snow storm on this date.

     After 13 inches of snow, the roof collapsed at 9:30 a.m. Luckily, no one was injured, but the Bisons had to hit the road.

     Buffalo played its last two "home" games in Cleveland, and then moved its playoff games to Niagara Falls, Ont. The Bisons tried to play in Niagara Falls the following year, but couldn't make it work financially and folded on Dec. 6, 1936. The Bisons came back in the American Hockey League once Memorial Auditorium was built in 1940.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: So close

     March 16, 2000 -- Appearances in the NCAA basketball tournament have been few and far between for St. Bonaventure over the last several years. Their game in the tournament on this date was a terrific one, though.

     Kentucky, one of the most fabled programs in the sport, needed double overtime to beat the Bonnies, 85-80 in Cleveland.

     St. Bonaventure hadn't been to the Big Dance since 1978, and just missed recording the Big Four's first tournament win since 1970. The Bonnies came into the game as the 12th seed in their region, and they had the fnas in the Cleveland State Convocation Center cheering for them in their upset bid.

     "I've never been so proud of a basketball team," said Bona coach Jim Baron, whose team's 21-10 record was its best in 22 years. "I thought the crowd gave us tremendous support and our kids played to win the game. They fought very, very hard. "I told them, 'If you play that way in the game of life, you're going to come out ahead regardless of what the score is.' It was a tremendous effort."

     Freshman Patricio Prato tied his career high with 20 points for St. Bonventure. Cleveland native J.R. Bremer came off the bench to add 17.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Losing to the best

     March 15, 1957 -- The 1957 NCAA basketball tournament is mostly remembered for its finale.

     Kansas had Wilt Chamberlain, the most unstoppable force in the history of college basketball until that point. No one, it seemed, could stop 7-foot-1 Philadelphia native. That's until North Carolina did it -- or at least beat the Jayhawks -- in triple overtime in one of the great games in history.

     Wilt could have asked Canisius for a scouting report on the Tar Heels. The Golden Griffins lost to North Carolina, 87-75, in the Eastern semifinals of the tournament in Philadelphia on this date. Lenny Rosenbluth had 39 points for the Tar Heels, while senior Hank Nowak Ñ the future Congressman Ñ led Canisius with 24 points.

     It was the third of three straight NCAA appearances for the Golden Griffins. Canisius finished 22-6 under coach Joe Curran. It took 39 years for the Griffs to get back to the Big Dance.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Swing and a miss

     March 14, 1967 -- For four years, the Buffalo Bills had a small quarterback controversy. Jack Kemp was the usual starter, and no one could dispute his accomplishments. The American Football League played for 10 years, and Kemp was in five championship games.

     But he was backed up by Daryle Lamonica, who was signed out of Notre Dame and debuted for the Bills in 1963. There's usually never anyone more popular in a town than a backup quarterback, and Lamonica showed signs of ability when he won all four of his starts during his four years in Buffalo.

     As of 1967, Lamonica was sick of waiting for a shot, and a trade made sense. So Buffalo dealt Lamonica and wide receiver Glenn Bass to the Oakland Raiders for quarterback Tom Flores and wide receiver Art Powell.

     Lamonica promptly led the Raiders to a 13-1 record and an appearance in the second Super Bowl. "The Mad Bomber" started for Oakland through 1972, leading the AFL in passing yards per game twice.  He seemed to take particular delight in throwing long TD passes against the Bills.

     The Bills, meanwhile, when straight downhill. Kemp had injury and interception problems through the end of his career in 1969. Flores only completed 27 of 74 passes as a Bill, with nine interceptions. Powell went from 53 catches in Oakland to 20 in Buffalo and was essentially done with pro football a year later.

     The Bills didn't return to a championship game until the 1990 season.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Worth dancing about

     March 13, 2007 -- The NCAA basketball tournament is no time to get picky when it comes to celebrate a win. So there was plenty of joy on this date when Niagara won its first game in the Big Dance since 1970, even if it was in the so-called "play-in" game.

     Niagara defeated Florida A&M, 77-69, in Dayton, Ohio, in the tournament opener. Calvin Murphy was in uniform for the Purple Eagles the last time they won in the NCAAs.

     The hero on this night was Clif Brown. He scored 24 of his 32 points in the final 18 minutes to lead Niagara. Brown was 10 of 18 from the field and 6 of 11 from three-point range. He also added seven rebounds.

     The Eagles won their 12th straight game, their longest win streak in 35 years, and earned a date with top-seeded Kansas in Chicago.

     "We're obviously very proud of what we did today," Niagara coach Joe Mihalich told The News' Mike Harrington. "It's an NCAA Tournament win. There's no asterisk as far as I'm concerned."

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits vs. Blazers: Live from HSBC Arena

7:28 p.m. -- Second place in the National Lacrosse League's East Division is again at stake tonight. This time it's the Buffalo Bandits with the half-game lead on the Boston Blazers, earned last week in Boston when the Bandits took a 9-8 decision. The Blazers will try to get a road win of their own tonight.

The Buffalo lineup looks similar to last week. Tracey Kelusky was said to be bothered by the flu, but he is playing tonight. Kyle Clancy, Ben McCullough and Darryl Gibson are the scratches.

7:41 p.m. -- By the way, this game is on Versus, but it won't be shown until a week from tomorrow. Therefore, if you don't want to know what happens so that you can watch the game fresh, you might want to avoid ... ah, forget it. We are tied at 1-1 with 4:14 gone in the first.

7:45 p.m. -- Mike Thompson already has made some good saves in the first 6:19 of play. He's been on a great run over the last few weeks, and was an obvious choice for NLL overall player of the week last week.

7:52 p.m. -- Looks like a pretty good crowd tonight, perhaps the second-biggest of the season (17K and change?). We've seen a handful of 30-second violations already, as sometimes both sides have had trouble getting any space for shots.

7:56 p.m. -- Casey Powell of the Blazers is always a treat to watch. He just made a nice fake, move and shot to score for Boston. That tied the game, 2-2. Seconds later, the Blazers took the lead on a goal by Jamie Rooney.

8:01 p.m. -- The Blazers finished the period with three straight goals, and that has lifted them to a 4-2 lead. Casey Powell has two Boston goals; Ryan Powell has one.

8:09 p.m. -- This one has opened up at the start of the second quarter. Buffalo has scored three of the four goals tallied in the first 2:25, reducing the Boston lead to 5-4.

8:13 p.m. -- Chad Culp gets a slashing penalty? No problem for Buffalo. The Bandits scored two short-handed goals (John Tavares and Mark Steenhuis) to take a 6-5 lead. That caused Boston to pull goalie Anthony Cosmo for Nick Rose.

8:19 p.m. -- There are too many Powells tonight. Ryan just scored his second of the game to tie things, 6-6.

8:31 p.m. -- Mark Steenhuis has made a couple of nice moves tonight, and they have both resulted in goals. The last one has the Bandits up, 7-6, in the last minute of the half.

8:33 p.m. -- And that's where we wind up after an interesting first half.

8:54 p.m. -- Steenhuis with two goals and three assists led the scoring in the first 30 minutes. He had another goal waved off moments ago for an obvious crease violation.

8:56 p.m. -- The sound system just played "It's Magic" by Pilot, one of my least favorite songs of the rock era. You'd think that would have been left in the Aud when everything moved to the new place. ("Born to Run" came on shortly after that. That's much better.) We're tied at 7 with 9:01 left in the third quarter, with 16,347 here to watch.

9:06 p.m. -- Back and forth we go. Buffalo didn't score in the first nine minutes of the period and fell behind, 8-7. Then Brett Bucktooth and Tavares responded, so Buffalo is back ahead, 9-8.

9:09 p.m. -- Dan Dawson has quietly rolled up a goal and five assists tonight. The Boston forward just tied the game, 9-9, with 3:20 to go in the third. He is big, and he is good.

9:13 p.m. -- Casey Powell just left the game after taking a shot to the face. He may be looking for a dentist in the locker room area -- hard to tell what exactly the problem is.

9:14 p.m. -- Nothing has been settled after three quarters, as Boston and Buffalo are tied at 9.

9:19 p.m. -- Casey Powell is back on the floor for Boston.

9:24 p.m. -- Brenden Thenhaus scored off a nice pass from Steenhuis, and the Bandits have a one-goal lead with 9:55 left. The Versus audience next week will get a good one, at least.

9:38 p.m. -- Tavares scores to put Buffalo ahead, 11-10, with 2:12 left.

9:43 p.m. -- Chris Corbeil adds an empty-netter, and the Bandits win, 12-10.

11:32 p.m. -- So the Bandits finished a home-and-home sweep of the Blazers, and are firmly in second place. You'd have to think that they belong in any discussion of possible championship contenders this year.

 "I hope so," coach Darris Kilgour said. "It's not so much a statement to the rest of the league, but to
ourselves. It feels real good to have that feeling that no matter what happens you're going to be able to overcome it. I think the guys are starting to have a lot of confidence in each other."

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The dance stops

   March 12, 1978 -- The St. Bonaventure basketball team hasn't taken many trips to the NCAA basketball tournament over the years. When it does, it should be enjoyed.

   Bona's 1978 visit was a little too short and sweet for its liking. The Bonnies lost a 92-83 decision to Penn in the first round of the tournament in Philadelphia.

   It was part of a great era in St. Bonaventure basketball under coach Jim Satalin. In 1977, Essie Hollis, Glenn Hagen and Greg Sanders helped the Bonnies win the NIT title. A year later, Bona faced Syracuse in Rochester's War Memorial for an ECAC bid to the NCAA tournament. Delmar Harrod hit the game-winning shot with 15 seconds left, Marty Byrnes couldn't answer for Syracuse, and giddy fans knocked down a basket and shattered a backboard in their postgame celebration. Sanders, a top forward, had 30 points and Hagan had 19.

   But Keven McDonald had 37 points in 39 minutes for the Quakers in the NCAA game, and he added 11 rebounds. It was the fourth of five trips over the years to the Big Dance for St. Bonaventure, although it was tough to play Penn in Philadelphia. Penn lost to eventual Final Four team Duke.

 --- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Worst ever?

It didn't take long for the reviews to come in for the Shamrock Run.

Some said it might have been the worst day for running (if you don't count electrical storms) in memory, while others said it was merely one of the worst days for running in memory.

It was obviously a very wet day, and the wind didn't help either. The course was not on the side of the runners either. Conditions actually weren't too bad when the field turned off of Seneca to run toward the lake on Michigan. Runners were then hit in the face by a wind that seemed to start in, oh, Michigan. And when the next turn sent everyone down Ganson St., the rain was on the driving side.

About the only consolation was that the temperature wasn't 10 degrees colder. If it had been 35 degrees with heavy rain and wind, it would have been really miserable.

A "well done" is in order to everyone who finished, with extra credit to the winners. Buffalorunners.com has the first look at the standings of The News' Runner of the Year competition.

It is a lean week for running. A planned race in Irving has been cancelled. That leaves us with a Saturday morning in Jamestown. You can find the details here.

---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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