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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Wilf Paiement

(Born October 16, 1955) -- Wilf Paiement bounced around the National Hockey League quite a bit during his career. One of those stops was in Buffalo, and he knew his way around the area when he got here.

Paiement played junior hockey just over the border in Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. He scored 123 points in 70 games in his last year of junior, and that caught the attention of the Kansas City Scouts. They made him the first draft pick in their history (second overall) in 1974.

The big winger had 26 goals in his rookie year, making him one of the few bright spots on the expansion team. Paiement made the move to Colorado with the Scouts, and then played for the Maple Leafs, Nordiques and Rangers.

Just before the start of the 1986-87 season, the Sabres took Paiement in the waiver draft. That Buffalo team needed plenty of help, as it eventually finished last overall. But Paiement at least chipped in with 20 goals.

He finished his NHL career in Pittsburgh the following season. One trivia note: he scored the 100,000th goal in NHL history on Oct. 12, 1980.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Carlos Garcia

(Born October 15, 1967) -- The Buffalo Bisons have had some fine infielders pass through their downtown ballpark over the years. Carlos Garcia was one of them.

Carlos Jesus Garcia Guerrero (full name) was born in Venezuela, and signed with the Pirates in 1987. It took him a while, but he reached Buffalo in the middle of the 1990 season.

Garcia hung around for a while, getting better as the games passed. By 1992, the shortstop was a standout, hitting .303 with 13 homers. The problem was that the Pirates already had a shortstop in Jay Bell.

So Garcia simply moved to second. He played 141 games for the Pirates in 1993, a career high. Garcia spent three more years in Pittsburgh getting more than 400 at-bats each season. He later moved on to the Blue Jays, Angels and Padres.

Since retiring, he’s stayed in baseball. Garcia has done some coaching in the majors and some managing in the minors. He was placed in the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Joshua Tree captures International at Woodbine

Dettori Flying Dismount
By Gene Kershner

TORONTO - It was Pattison Canadian International day at Woodbine Racetrack and Joshua Tree ($10.70) won his second International in the last three years with world class jockey Frankie Dettori aboard for trainer Marco Botti. Dettori is lifelong friends with Botti’s father and won his first ever race for the trainer on Sunday afternoon on an unseasonably warm day at the suburban Toronto track.

Dettori and Joshua Tree got loose on the front end and he held off a fast closing Dandino at the wire, finishing the 1 ½-mile race in 2:30.89. The 5-year-old Monjeu eclipsed the $3 million mark in career earnings with the $900,000 first place purse.  Dettori completed his famous “flying dismount” (see picture) in the winner’s circle and was elated with the effort of his horse.

“They were coming at the end. I could hear the wind. I have been here before (at Woodbine); I know what it’s like. I was the hare and the hounds were coming,” said the smiling Dettori in the post race press conference.

Dandino finished second and paid $20.80 to place and $11.30 to show and Forte Dei Marmi completed the trifecta and paid $5.80 to show. Lucie Botti, the assistant trainer and wife of the trainer, said that Joshua Tree would most likely be pointed at the Japan Cup.

Botti said Dettori followed the plan to a tee. “There was not pace in the race and Frankie was basically told to go forward and to go. The main thing was to sit on the rail. That’s the first race he ever won for us, so I was glad it was this one.”  She also mentioned the long-term plan for Joshua Tree would be to run in the Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup day next March.

The first Grade 1 race of the day was the $500,000 Nearctic Stakes, a turf sprint where the winner would automatically qualify for the BC Turf Sprint. In a race that came down to a duel between two New York-based jockeys, Ramon Dominguez and Next Question ($34.10) prevailed over Hall of Famer John Velazquez and Night Carnation (GB) at long odds of 16-1.

Dominguez let his horse lead the way based on the homework he did prior to the race. “I knew judging by the paper that he would be forwardly placed. He is a horse with a lot of natural speed and when we left the gate and saw the one trying to make the lead, I was excited about that. I kind of wanted to rate and stalk the one, but my horse was really pulling me and taking me forward so I decided to just keep him together,” said the winning jockey.

The second big Grade 1 race of the day was the $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes was won by foreign invader Siyouma ($7.70). She was running back after only two weeks rest, winning a Group 1 stake at Newmarket in Great Britain. Trainer Francois Doumen rolled the dice and it worked out perfectly.

“I must say she was a little bit worried to run so soon. She won so easily in Newmarket,” said Doumen. “She won so easily in Newmarket. She came back so fresh at home that I said, ‘Well, I better attempt it. After all, it’s the last females Group 1 race of the season.’ She’s so good and she’s so calm. She has got such a wonderful temperament that it allows her to travel beautifully well and takes all the effort away,” said the winning conditioner.

Overall, it was a great day of racing up the Queen Elizabeth Way, with some of the top riders in the world descending on a racetrack that happens to boast one of the premier turf courses around. It's a gem of a facility and never disappoints on the biggest race days. Sunday afternoon some of the racing world's best showed up at Woodbine, and they did not disappoint.

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association and tweets @EquiSpace.

Post Time: Woodbine's richest race attracts Euro invaders

By Gene Kershner

TORONTO -- A critical “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup (BC) Challenge race will be run today north of the border at Woodbine Racetrack where the 75th running of the $1.5 million Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International will guarantee a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. A field of 11 will go to post late this afternoon in Canada’s richest race and run a mile and a half on the famous Woodbine turf course.

In addition to the International, today's Woodbine’s card includes two other Grade 1 races.  The $1 million E.P. Taylor, a one mile and a quarter race for 3-year old fillies and mares and the $500,0000 Nearctic, a six furlong sprint race for open company will round out the graded stakes on the card. All three races are “Win and You’re In” qualifying races for the BC at Santa Anita in early November.

The International field is super amped with the 2010 winner Joshua Tree, Grade 1 Northern Dancer winner Wigmore Hall and a quartet of European graded stakes winners Dandino, 3-year-old Imperial Monarch, Reliable Man and Lay Time, all serious contenders for the top prize.

Noted American trainers Shug McGaughey and Bill Mott will send out Air Support and Al Khali, respectively. Canadian and U.S. Hall of Famer Roger Attfield conditions Grade 2 Sky Classic winner Forte Dei Marmi, who finished just over a length behind Wigmore Hall in the Northern Dancer last month at Woodbine, finishing third.

An eye should be squarely maintained on the weather situation as light rain is in the current forecast in the Toronto metropolitan area this afternoon. The Europeans would have the advantage should the course come up yielding or soft.

Imperial Monarch (3-1), the only 3-year old in the field, won his last at Longchamp in France in a Group 1 race on soft turf at the distance. The lightly raced Galileo colt has won three of four career races and has improved in each one.

Joshua Tree (9-2), last year’s runner-up to upset winner Sarah Lynx, will enlist top Euro rider Frankie Dettori and comes off a tough loss to Arc runner-up Orfevre, Japan’s Triple Crown winner, finishing a mere length and a quarter behind one of the best horses in the world. He’ll be attempting to become the third horse to win two Internationals in his 10th appearance of the year. Trainer Marco Botti thinks he’s still in great form despite the long schedule. “He seems to be coming into his best form recently and seems to enjoy racing.  I haven’t trained many horses as tough as he is.   Every time he comes back after a race, he’s full of life.”

Speaking of last weekend’s thrilling Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the winning jockey, Olivier Peslier, who defeated Orfevre on Solemia will fly in to ride the talented and dangerous 4-year-old Reliable Man (4-1). It will be Peslier’s first appearance at Woodbine in five years when he won the 1997 E.P. Taylor on the International undercard. The four-year-old grey son of Dalakhani has four wins, including last year’s Grade 1 French Derby, one second and two thirds from 11 lifetime starts, for trainer Alain De Royer-Dupre.

Wigmore Hall (6-1) is certainly a horse for the course, based on his back-to-back wins in the Northern Dancer, but faces a severe uptick in class in facing the talent that is lining up in the International. “I think the environment there really suits him,” said trainer Michael Bell. “He's also been given two really blinding rides by Jamie Spencer. We'll see how he gets on when upped in class.” Bell shipped him back to England after last month’s win, but doesn’t seem to be concerned with the frequent flier miles. “He looks in very good form,” said Bell. “He loves to travel and he's in very good shape.”

The top American hopeful is McGaughey’s Air Support (10-1), who will likely be closing late with master turf rider Javier Castellano aboard for the first time since he broke his maiden at Saratoga in 2010. Castellano pulled a major upset in the 2008 International, winning on 29-1 long shot Marsh Side, so he knows what it takes to win this race.

McGaughey is bullish on his chances and is not worried about his first try at a mile and a half. “He seems to be doing well.  I think he's probably a true mile and a half horse.  He's a nice little package, not a great big horse, but he's put together right.   He's pretty push button.  He's been very sound, so we're looking forward to the opportunity of running him (at Woodbine).”

Post Time Outlook: 1 – Reliable Man; 2 – Joshua Tree; 3 – Imperial Monarch; 4 – Air Support

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association and tweets @EquiSpace.

PP

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

Odds

1

Lay Time (GB)

Balding

Fortune

20-1

2

Dandino (GB)

Fanshawe

Crowley

8-1

3

Forte Dei Marmi (GB)

Attfield

Velazquez

15-1

4

Scalo (GB)

Woehler

Starke

12-1

5

Prince Will I Am

Nihei

Dominguez

20-1

6

Wigmore Hall (IRE)

Bell

Spencer

6-1

7

Reliable Man (GB)

De Royer-Dupre

Peslier

4-1

8

Joshua Tree (IRE)

Botti

Dettori

5-1

9

Al Khali

Mott

Gomez

10-1

10

Imperial Monarch (IRE)

O'Brien

Moore

3-1

11

Air Support

McGaughey

Castellano

10-1

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Ron Wolfley

(Born October 14, 1962) -- Ron Wolfley was a standout at two Western New York high schools, and made Western New York proud after leaving.

He was a three-sport standout at Orchard Park High before transferring to Frontier, where he was all-league. That was good enough for West Virginia, which brought him to Morgantown to play football. Wolfley was a special teams star until his senior year, when he grabbed a starting running back’s role.

Wolfley moved on to the NFL, joining older brother Craig, when he was drafted by the Cardinals in 1985. He stayed for seven years, becoming one of the best special teamers in the NFL during that span (four straight Pro Bowls).

In 1992, he moved on to Cleveland for two seasons, and then signed with the Rams in 1994 for one last season. Wolfley was the first player ever to play for both the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Rams.

He does some broadcasting in Arizona now. And if you are in Phoenix, drop in on his restaurant, “Wolfley’s.”

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Lou Saban

(Born October 13, 1921) -- There’s not enough space on the Internet to fully cover the career of Lou Saban. It was quite a ride.

Saban played college football at Indiana and had a pro career with the Cleveland Browns. There he learned under Paul Brown, the most innovative coach in NFL history.

Saban coached in college for a while, and then landed with the Boston Patriots when the AFL opened for business in 1960. Then it was on to the Bills, where he became the head coach. Saban is well remembered as the man who led Buffalo to back-to-back AFL titles.

Saban shocked everyone by leaving for the University of Maryland in 1966, but after another stop in Denver he returned to Buffalo in 1972. Saban built a team around O.J. Simpson, who ran for a record 2,000 yards in 1973, and the Bills made the playoffs in 1974. But Saban resigned from the team in the middle of 1976.

Saban coached at Army and Miami (Fla.) after that, and he even served as the president of the New York Yankees in 1980. Saban died in 2009.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Racing scene shifts north to Woodbine

By Gene Kershner

This weekend is one of the biggest, outside of the Canadian Triple Crown races, for our neighbors to the north at Woodbine Racetrack. Pattison Canadian International day is on Sunday afternoon and will feature three Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup (BC) Win and You’re In (W&YI) races, with automatic entries and paid travel costs to the BC Turf (International), the BC Turf Sprint (Nearctic) and the BC Filly and Mare Turf (E.P. Taylor).

The International has drawn 11 entries, eight of which have shipped in from across the pond. The Europeans have been solid in this race in the past and will be looking to continue that pattern on Sunday. Check back here at the Sports, Ink blog on Sunday for my advance on the International.

The Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes, a six furlong turf sprint has attracted 11 runners including two European fillies, Fire Lilly (7-2), an Irish-bred who is the second choice and Night Carnation (9-2) who will be running on lasix for the first time with Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Velazquez aboard.  The morning line favorite for the Nearctic is Big Band Sound (3-1) who will be cutting back in distance from his sixth-place Woodbine Mile performance last month. The six furlong distance could be the answer for the 5-year-old Bernstein thoroughbred.

Interesting to note that top jockey Olivier Peslier rode As de Trebol (12-1) in his last three races and will be in Toronto to ride Reliable Man in the International, but is not scheduled to ride in this race. Instead Italian jockey Mirco Demuro has the mount. This horse could be live at the distance at a great price, so keep an eye on the tote before the race goes off. The Kentucky-bred Tapit grey will be included in my horizontal wagering scheme.

The Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes is also a huge turf race for fillies and mares, three years old and upward going a mile and a quarter. Dream Peace (7-2), third by a half length in the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park on Super Saturday, will run back on two weeks rest for red-hot trainer Chad Brown. Top flight New York-based rider Ramon Dominguez will be in the irons on the Dansili filly for a trainer who wins 27 percent of the time second off the layoff. She finished second to the highly regarded Winter Memories, two races back in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga this summer.

Frankie Dettori, who will be up north this weekend to ride Joshua Tree in the International, gets the nod on top of longshot Havant (20-1), also running first time on lasix. She’ll be stepping up in class against this group, but trainer Freddie Head must see something in this one to make the trip across the Atlantic.

The morning line favorite in the Taylor is Siyouma (3-1), an Irish-bred 4-year-old filly by Medicean out of a Danehill mare, whose resume includes a Grade 1 win at Newmarket two weeks ago in a one mile effort. She looks like she can handle the distance based on past efforts amongst some tough company with names like Snow Fairy and Arc winner Solemia can be found in her running lines.

Another to watch is the 3-year-old Street Cry filly Princess Highway (5-1) who ships in from Ireland, will be running on lasix for the first time and will get a five pound weight break from the older fillies and mares in the field. She’s two for two at the distance and has a Group 3 win under her belt.

Barefoot Lady (6-1), won the Grade 2 Canadian at 7-1 odds on the Woodbine turf course going a furlong less in distance, overcoming a bobbled start and could be a play underneath in the exotics as a horse for the course. She regains regular Euro rider Tony Hamilton for trainer Richard Fahey.

My long shot hopeful in the Taylor is Kapitale (12-1), a German-bred running third off the layoff and fourth place finisher in the aforementioned Canadian for conditioner Andreas Wohler. His Tomlinson distance rating is the highest in the field and he could surprise. The Tomlinson distance rating, by the way, is based on a statistical analysis of the performance of other thoroughbreds with the same pedigree influences, may prove helpful in predicting a thoroughbreds ability to handle the distance of a specific race.

We’ll be up in Toronto on Sunday for the big races, so follow along on my Twitter feed and look for recaps in the Sports, Ink blog Sunday afternoon.

Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer and handicapper who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Jerry Butler

(Born on October 12, 1957) -- Football players are described in many ways, but “elegant” usually isn’t one of them. Yet Bills’ wide receiver Jerry Butler was certainly an elegant athlete.

Butler was born in South Carolina and stayed in that state to attend college at Clemson. In 1979, the Bills found themselves with two first-round draft choices within the first five picks. One was Tom Cousineau - who got away, twice - but the other turned out much better.

The receiver was an immediate standout with the Bills. In his rookie year, Butler caught 48 passes for 834 yards. A year later, he hauled in 57 passes to set a career high and make the Pro Bowl as he helped the Bills win the AFC East for the first time.

In 1981, eight of his 55 catches were for touchdowns. Some of them were of the “highlight film” variety. Alas, the injuries started to pile up after a while, and Butler’s career never quite lived up to its potential. He missed all of 1984 due to a knee injury, and retired in 1986 after shattering his ankle on a catch.

Butler did some television work after that, and eventually he moved into the Cleveland Browns’ front office.

--- Budd Bailey

Running Notebook: Get out your gloves

It's been said that real runners never go on vacation without packing running shoes and a change of clothes. Those items were packed for a quick trip to Florida last week when I was on vacation. It sure doesn't take long to remember the hot, dry summer we had around here, which was much better for running than it was in my lawn. But those days are over here for a while - I wore gloves this morning for the first time of the season. The Freezer Run will be here before we know it.

One other slightly leftover note that's worth a mention. You might remember Jason McElwain of Rochester, who achieved some national attention when he scored 20 points in six minutes in a high school basketball game about six years ago. McElwain finished the Rochester marathon in 3 hours, 1 minute and 41 seconds. He thus qualified for the Boston Marathon. McElwain was diagnosed with autism at a young age.

Coming up on Sunday, I take a look at a "fish out of water" story -- runners trying to put on a race.

Here's this weekend's schedule, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* Breaking the Sound Barrier 5K, 2253 Main St. in Buffalo, 9 a.m. Saturday, 834-7200. This is always a nice little event, and the kids there are always happy to see the runners on the side during the short post-race parace.

* Lou Reuter Scholarship Run, 5K 350 Fries Road in Tonawanda, 9 a.m. Saturday, 874-8402. This is part of a big day at Kenmore East High School, including the East/West football game.

* Ryan Purcell Memorial, 4 miles, Botanical Gardens at 2655 S. Park Ave. in Buffalo,  9:30 a.m. Saturday, 713-5654.

* Muddy Viking Trail Run, 4 Miles 5013 Rt. 430 in Bemus Point, 10 a.m. Saturday, 830-6703.

* Pumpkin Run, 5K, 6350 Main St. in Williamsville, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 783-3219. Gateway-Longview is making this a good-sized party, especially for the kids who are there to celebrate the coming Halloween festivities.

* Chowder Challenge 5K, Pine Woods Park in North Tonawanda, 11 a.m. Saturday, 523-3958. I did this race last year, and it was an interesting course to run for the first time. The chowder got good reviews from friends as well.

If you are counting, that's six Saturday races and none on Sunday. Hmmmm.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits Notebook: Outta here

Catching up on a few notes from my vacation week; it seems like the Bandits are always doing things when I'm away ...

* Mike Thompson keeps playing his final game, but this time it looks like he means it. The veteran, who retired from Bandits' play earlier this summer, won a summer championship in Canada this year. Now he's playing his last game on Saturday in the Bowhunter Cup in Rochester. It's a matchup of Team USA and the Iroquois Nationals. You can get more information at bandits.com.

It is an understatement to say Mikey will be missed. When I showed up to start covering the team at the start of the 2009 season, Thompson made me feel welcome immediately. He always seemed to have a smile on his face, and he kept it there for the next four years. I talked to him on good days and bad ones, and he was always cooperative. No matter what happens from here, he'll be remembered fondly by those who spent time around the Bandits.

* The National Lacrosse League is coming to Montreal, at least for one night. Rochester and Toronto will play a preseason game there on December 15.

This is a great idea. The league needs to be in some new markets, and Montreal perhaps only trails Vancouver as a logicial fit for the league. Montreal had a team in the NLL before, but it didn't work out. Still, interest in the game in Canada is strong, and the league really should look north for expansion candidates.

* I'm obviously late to the party when it comes to the Bandits' choices in the NLL Draft. Dhane Smith was the team's first pick, and by all accounts he was a good one. Smith is said to be a superb athlete at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds. It's just a matter of determining whether he should play offense or defense from the start. And in case he gets into trouble, cousin Billy Dee Smith will be around. I can't think of a better guardian angel.

I don't claim to have any special knowledge of the Bandits' picks. I think of them along the lines of Sabre draft choices -- at some point we'll find out if they can help, but it may take a while. Still, Buffalo had plenty of picks, particularly in the second round, and philosophically I like the odds when a good number of fresh, athletic bodies show up. We'll see how this works out.

Meanwhile, good luck to Hamburg's Joe Resetarits, who went sixth in the draft to Calgary.

--- 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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