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Running notebook: Hurry up!

A reminder to those looking for something to do on Thanksgiving morning -- the Turkey Trot is filling up quickly. They were over 12,000 in registration numbers already the last time I checked, and the limit is 14,000 this year (up from 13,000). Therefore ... you might want to get that done in the very near future.

By the way, Sunday's running column is on the Trot ... of course. I'm not sure anyone else would have come up with this particular angle about the annual race.

Now for the weekend schedule, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* Vikings for Vets 5K, 1717 Bedell Road, Grand Island, 9 a.m. Saturday, 308-5775.

* Lindsay's Legacy Run, 5K, Clinton Park in Tonawanda, 11 a.m. Saturday, 695-7406. This was the biggest 5K in Western New York last year, thanks in part to the participation of Girls on the Run. Nice course, great postrace spread and party, wonderful premiums ... what's not to like? I've never missed one.

* Veterans Day 5K, One Naval Park Cove in Buffalo, 11 a.m. Sunday, 868-1055. It's interesting that as the weather turns bad, more and more races seem to pop up along the waterfront. We have one next week as well as the Freezer 5K before Christmas.

-- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Chad Ogea

(Born on November 9, 1970) -- You’d have to say Chad Ogea was an annual visitor to Buffalo. After all, he played in Buffalo in five different seasons, even if his appearances were very brief.

The pitcher grew up in Lake Charles, La., and stayed around the area to play high school baseball. After playing college ball for Louisiana State, Ogea was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the third round.

The right-hander wasted little time in working his way up the Indians’ organizational ladder. He first made the jump to the majors for Cleveland in 1994. However, Ogea divided 1995 between Buffalo and Cleveland. That was the pattern for four straight seasons.

It’s easy to point out Ogea’s career highlight. It came in 1997, when he earned two World Series wins for Cleveland in its series with Florida. He had a 1.54 ERA in that series.

Ogea played his last major-league game in 1999 for the Phillies, but he wasn’t done with Buffalo. Ogea turned up one more time here in 2000, allowing six runs on eight hits in 1.1 innings.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Ilio DiPaolo

(Born November 8, 1926) -- When it comes to traveling, Ilio DiPaolo took the long way to fame in Western New York.

This native son of Italy moved to Venezuela in his 20s, learned to wrestle in the Dominican Republic, and eventually landed here. DiPaolo lived in Crystal Beach, Ontario, for a while as he took part in events throughout Canada. In fact, DiPaolo eventually was inducted into Canada’s Wrestling Hall of Fame.

He married Ethel, the step-daughter of Buffalo promoter Pedro Martinez, in 1952. That meant he took part in some matches in Buffalo, which didn’t call for much travel. DiPaolo opened a restaurant in Blaisdell in 1965. He is said to have returned to the “office” after time in the squared circle to sign some autographs and say hello to customers and fans.

And talk about a “gentle giant” - DiPaolo was one of those people who seemed to generate good will wherever he went. It’s impossible to find someone who has a bad word to say about him.

It all made DiPaolo’s death in 1995 that much more tragic. He was hit by a car in front of the restaurant and died instantly. DiPaolo went into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: David Nelson

(Born November 7, 1986) -- You can bet that David Nelson doesn’t like sitting around watching football on his birthday this year. He’s used to playing the game at this time of the year.

Nelson has been good at the game throughout his career. He played in high school in Wichita Falls, Texas. As a senior, he caught 91 passes for 1,641 yards, which helped him become one of the nation’s top wide receivers.

The University of Florida has been a good place for those with offensive talent, and Nelson found a home there under coach Urban Meyer. After sitting out a season as a redshirt, the receiver was a part of the Gators’ offense for four years. His catch from a jump pass from Tim Tebow wrapped up a win in the 2009 BCS championship game.

Nelson wasn’t drafted in 2010, but the Bills quickly signed him as a free agent. They quickly discovered that Nelson was quite good at catching the ball, an important skill at any level. Nelson had 31 catches in 2010, and 61 more in 2011.

However, his luck ran out for the time being when he hurt his knee in the season opener after catching two passes. Nelson was lost for the season, and the Bills miss his talents.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Steve Kuberski

(Born November 6, 1947) -- Most people associated Steve Kuberski with the Boston Celtics, and deservedly so. He’ll always be known as the last Celtic to wear #33 before Larry Bird came along. But Kuberski has a Buffalo connection, since he played briefly with the Braves.

The forward grew up in Moline, Illinois, where he was a high school standout. That earned him a trip to the University of Illinois. However, he was caught up in a scandal there. Kuberski received $35 a month from a slush fund at the school. He opted to leave Illinois, and eventually landed at Bradley.

Kuberski was drafted in the fourth round by the Celtics in 1969. Boston was the defending champion that season, but the loss of Bill Russell and Sam Jones made it a transition year. Kuberski was a backup forward for the Celtics for several years. He was part of a championship team in 1976.

Kuberski was lost in the expansion draft in 1974, and was traded to the Bucks for the 1974-75 season. He was waived in the fall of 1975, and the Braves took a look at him. Alas, he only scored 17 points in 10 games and was cut.

Kuberski was picked up by the Celtics, briefly, and then retired. He stayed in Boston, where he owns a company that manufactures, among other items, school lockers.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Todd Collins

(Born November 5, 1971) -- Todd Collins is something of a trivia question, particularly locally. As in, “Who was the Bills’ starting quarterback after Jim Kelly?” It proved to be a hard act to follow.

Collins was a classic three-sport standout in high school in Massachusetts. He was unbeaten as a pitcher (10-0) as a junior, and averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds a game in basketball on a team that made the state semifinals. But football was his best sport, and he landed a scholarship at Michigan.

Collins set a variety of records for the Wolverines, and it helped his stock in the NFL Draft. He was a second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1995. The quarterback was a back-up in his first two years as a pro. He got his chance in 1997, but couldn’t hold on to the starting spot.

The Bills let him go after that, but his career was far from over. The Chiefs signed him in 1998, and he was either a third-stringer or second-stringer for several years. Collins stayed in Kansas City through 2005.

Even then, he wasn’t done. Collins joined the Washington Redskins. When Jason Campbell was injured, Collins was pressed into service. The ex-Bill found some magic, helped Washington reach the playoffs as he was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month. Collins stayed in D.C. through 2009, and spent one more season in the NFL with Chicago.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Em Bryant

(Born November 4, 1938) -- Emmette Bryant received the shock of his basketball life when he arrived in Buffalo. The guard went from the heights of the NBA to the depths.

Bryant played his college basketball at DePaul. It earned him a pick by the New York Knicks in the seventh round, where the odds weren’t too good for him sticking around. By the way, the Cowboys also drafted him as a defensive back.

He stuck to football and landed on a Knick team that was just starting to collect good talent. Bryant spent four seasons in New York, but was taken by the Phoenix Suns in the 1968 expansion draft. But he never played for the Suns, going to Boston in a trade for a draft choice.

Bryant spent two seasons with the Celtics, and Boston won championships in both of them. Then in May of 1970, Bryant was picked in another expansion draft - this time by the Braves.

He played two seasons here, remembered in part because of his headband. Bryant averaged more than 10 points per game in 1970-71 for the only time in his career. The guard spent 1971-72 here as well, and his career ended at that point. Bryant moved into teaching until retirement.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Live from the Breeders' Cup

2012-11-03 10.22.20
ARCADIA, Ca. -- Greetings from sunny Southern California and Breeders' Cup (BC) Saturday from Santa Anita Park. I'll be with you all day to talk horses and share the sights and sounds through all nine championship races culminating in the BC Classic. The Classic will be shown live on NBC (Ch.2) in a prime time telecast starting at 8 p.m. ET. Post time for the classic is 8:30 p.m.

We've been racing since 10 a.m. PST this morning on the west coast and three races are already in the books. The weather is absolutely stunning and should approach 80 degrees by mid-afternoon. The beautiful backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains makes this site one of the most picturesque race tracks in the land. The track is fast and the turf is firm.

I wandered about a bit this morning and enjoyed seeing the brand new Zenyatta statue just outside the paddock area where they are hosting a "Taste of LA" food court of vendors from local Los Angeles restaurants. Below is a picture of the Zenyatta statue.

2012-11-03 10.49.43
2:35 p.m. (all times ET): The first of the nine championship races is the $1M BC Juvenile Turf, where a full field of 14 two-year-olds will try and claim the top prize. I'm favoring a couple of Euros in here, both 3-George Vancouver and 6-Dundonnell, both of whom should enjoy the firm turf coming over the pond. I've included 9-Noble Tune (Chad Brown red-hot on the turf) 10-Joha and 14-Lines of Battle (Dettori in the irons) in an early Pick-3, so I'm fairly deep here. Good luck as we get this day rolling!

2:59 p.m.: Hello George! The Aidan O'Brien-trained 2-year-old George Vancouver ($20.60) by Henrythenavigator, who ran in the Classic here against Curlin in 2009 absolutely loved the firm turf here at Santa Anita cruising past Chad Brown's Noble Tune. That gets our Pick-3 off to a very good start at 9-1.

Coming up next is the BC Filly & Mare Sprint. Most tickets here will be singled to 9-Groupie Doll, who on paper looks to be much the best in this field. I've also included Padua Stables' 3-Dust and Diamonds in the middle leg so maybe she can pull an upset here. I also have another Pick-3 ticket starting here with Groupie Doll.

3:45 p.m. - Wow! Groupie Doll ($3.40) made it look easy, taking the lead just past the top of the stretch, which keeps me live on two tickets. Dust and Diamond rode a valiant second, but was beaten by 4 1/2-lengths. Rajiv Maragh picks up his second BC victory on the weekend after winning yesterday on Hightail.

The BC Dirt Mile is next and we're four horses deep in the last leg of the first ticket, with 3-Jersey Town (will pay of $55.90), 4-John Scott ($124.10), 5-Fed Biz ($66.15) and 7-Emcee ($35.45). We included 6-Shackleford in the second leg of the other ticket, so we're still in business going into this one.  By the way, just had a tasty lunch made up of chicken quarters, red potatoes and a fruit salad. Yesterday I ventured out of the press area and found a nice carving station that was serving carved turkey and corned beef. Food grade for Santa Anita so far: A minus.

Ok, let's get it going with both of these tickets!

4:10 p.m.: Just returned from the paddock where a fractious 6-Shackleford was not enjoying his walk around the ring. He reared several times before finally calming down. Delegation and Fed Biz were the best two lookers in the paddock. I decided to put $2 saver win bets on 2-Delegation and 8-Tapizar to protect my Pick-3 wager.

4:20 p.m.: It's 8-Tapizar ($32.60) at 15-1 in the Dirt Mile who just wouldn't relinquish the lead after taking over just past the top of the stretch. It's why you have to back up your plays with saver win bets on the long-priced horses. Rail Trip finished second.

The BC Turf Sprint is next where they go downhill on the backside before joining the main track. We are 5 deep here with 1-California Flag (2009 winner here), 9-Bridgetown (Pletcher speedster), 10-Corporate Jungle (my top pick), 11-Mizdirection (Jim Rome's horse) and 13-Unbridled's Note. We're starting a new Pick-3 here into the BC Turf. I love the $0.50 fractional bet that let's you spread deep in the more competitive races.

4:55 p.m.: After visiting with some friends from Buffalo and running into Bill Tallon, the Daily Racing Form correspondent, I headed down to the paddock to get a glimpse of Mizdirection and Jim Rome. The talk show host is all decked out in his best duds today for his first Breeders' Cup try. He was swarmed by reporters several times in the paddock and seemed to be soaking up the limelight. Back here in the auxiliary press box (which is actually outside just before the clubhouse turn) I salvaged one of the last chocolate chip cookies, which was delicious, by the way.

5:05 p.m.: Now that is good for racing! Jim Rome's Jungle Racing Stables' Mizdirection ($15.80) wins the Turf Sprint over Unbridled's Note. He wins the $1 million dollar race and pockets the $600K first prize purse money. You can guess what is going to be talked about on his talk show next week. Back here at the ranch, it's a good start to our next Pick-3, let's see if we can bring this one home.

In keeping with our rolling Pick-3's for the afternoon, we get a first look at next year's Derby hopefuls in the BC Juvenile. We're going with the two Baffert horses (1-Title Contender and 9-Power Broker) along with Todd Pletcher-trained Hopeful winner 4-Shanghai Bobby. We have these three horses in the middle leg of one Pick-3 and we'll add 8-Fortify to start a second one.

Back to the Turf Sprint, that was Mike Smith's record 17th win in Breeders' Cup competition, he broke the record yesterday winning on Royal Delta in the Ladies' Classic.

5:45 p.m.: Wowsa! What a finish! It's a photo in the BC Juvenile and Shanghai Bobby ($4.60) prevails for Todd Pletcher! I thought Rosie Napravnik moved way to soon and was ready to back up at the eighth pole, but that horse just kept on chugging and held off the grey, He's Had Enough and Mario Gutierrez (I'll Have Another's jockey) in deep stretch. The Harlan's Holiday colt won the Hopeful this year and Napravnik continues to move forward in big races, she won the Kentucky Oaks earlier this year.  Is a Derby win in her future?

If you're keeping score at home we're live to 1-Point of Entry (favorite, $45 will pay) and 5-Shareta (Irish shipper, $75) in the BC Turf, the last leg of one P3, I have Point of Entry singled in the middle leg of our second P3 play. I wouldn't mind Point of Entry winning here as we're five deep in the BC Sprint (2,4,7,11,13).

6:08 p.m. In looking at Shanghai Bobby's pedigree and on his damside it's pretty untested. His dam sire, Orientate, was mostly a sprinter and Harlan's Holiday was halfway decent at the classic distance with seconds in the Hollywood Gold Cup and Dubai World Cup at age four and a third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at age three. Harlan's Holiday finished seventh in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness, so there's some nuggets to chew on.

6:15 p.m.: Some quotes from the Mizdirection press conference from renowned talk show host Jim Rome. "I'm numb. Having a hard time believing that just happened and she came back and won the race. I talked to Bobby Flay on my show earlier in the week and I said you've been there before, you know what it's like. And he said outside of the birth of my daughter it was the most exhilirating feeling in his lefe. I would say the same, but I'm too numb to to know how it feels," said Rome.

7:10 p.m.: Trinniberg ($29.40), who set the early pace in this year's Kentucky Derby, was all about that six furlongs completing it in a lightning fast 1:07.98. He held off NY-bred The Lumber Guy at the wire. Those two horses completed a $203 exacta for $2. Trainer Shivananda Parbhoo put the blinkers on him for this race and it proved to be just the right equipment change.

We're down to two BC races left, next up is the BC Mile, featuring the talented 2-Wise Dan, and the return of last year's Derby winner, 5-Animal Kingdom. Wise Dan looks to be the class of the race, a couple others to ponder would be 3-Obviously and European shipper 6-Excelebration who has faced the mighty Frankel several times on the other side of the pond, finishing second to him three times and third once.

7:45 a.m.: Wise Dan ($5.60) was much the best in the Mile taking over at the eighth pole, setting a new record at 1:31.78 for the mile distance on the turf. Animal Kingdom finished second to complete a $27.30 exacta and looked good closing late in his comback attempt. A case could be made for Horse of the Year for Wise Dan, but Game on Dude might have something to say about that.

Animal Kingdom received a round of applause from the Santa Anita throng as he returned from his second place finish.

The $5 million BC Classic is next. I'm staying with my top pick, 5-Game On Dude. My advance on the race can be found here. I will be playing him on top of 11-Mucho Macho Man, 4-Fort Larned and 10-Ron the Greek in a trifecta.

I will be heading down to a jam packed paddock and will return here for a short recap after the race. Good luck in the Classic!

8:50 p.m.: It's Fort Larned in the $5M Classic in a thrilling stretch duel with Mucho Macho Man. If you boxed my top four in a $2 exacta (cost: $24) you would have cashed a pretty ticket ($120). I have to get to work on my commentary due to the tight deadline being on the West Coast so check tomorrow's morning editions for my thoughts.

Thanks for following along today and I hope you cashed a lot of tickets!

--Gene Kershner

 

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Howard Ballard

(Born November 3, 1963) -- In basketball, there’s a phrase among scouts that goes something like, “You can’t teach height.” In other words, it’s always a good idea to take a big man. The football equivalent probably is something like, “You can’t teach big.”

Howard Ballard was big. He was so big, in fact, that it didn’t take him long to get the nickname of “House.”

Ballard played college football at Alabama A&M, where he was all-conference twice. He was a classic “project” pick by the Bills, going in the 11th round of the 1987 draft.

It took a while, but Ballard grew into a fine offensive tackle for Buffalo. Eventually he became a starting tackle in 1988, as Joe Devlin moved over the guard, and played in four Super Bowls for the Bills. He even participated in two Pro Bowls.

Then Ballard moved on to Seattle in 1994 for four years and $10.5 million. He stayed with the Seahawks through 1998. After starting for three seasons, Ballard’s knees started to give out and he had to give up the game.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Royal Delta wins Ladies Classic; Summer of Fun third in Juvenile Fillies Turf

By Gene Kershner

ARCADIA, Ca. – The first day of the Breeders’ Cup (BC) World Championship thoroughbred racing delivered some big winners, highlighted by Royal Delta’s historic win in the Ladies’ Classic. It was the second straight Ladies’ Classic victory for the Empire Maker 4-year-old. She covered the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:48.80 after setting some serious early fractions of 22.69 and 45.81. Royal Delta paid $5.40 to win, $3.40 to place and $2.60 to show.

Jockey Mike Smith won his third consecutive Classic as he won on Royal Deltalast year (Ladies) and on Drosselmeyer in the BC Classic and will look to extend that string to four aboard Mucho Macho Man in tomorrow’s big $5M race. Trainer Bill Mott set two records with the victory, winning his fifth Ladies’ Classic and his third straight.

My Miss Aureliafinished second and paid $5.80 to place and $4 to show. Include Me Out finished third and paid $5.20 to show while completing a $2 trifecta. The $0.50 Pick-4 returned $885.80 to winning ticket holders and the $2 Pick-6 paid a whopping $773,865.20.

The first three BC races delivered winners at 15-1, 17-1 and 11-1, as bettors Trainer D. Wayne Lukas won his 19th Breeders’ Cup race with long shot Hightail ($32.80) that nosed out the favored Merit Man and survived a steward’s inquiry in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint. Lukas was pumped after the race. “I just thought that we had a great shot. These races are historically very fast up front. We’re a good closer and I thought we had a shot,” said the 78-year-old trainer. Hightail finished the 6-furlong race in 1:09.75.

The BC Marathon was won by the Argentinean horse Calidoscopio ($36.40) who closed late to beat Grassy in an upset. He was the oldest horse to ever win a Breeders’ Cup race at the age of nine. Aaron Gryder, a Dubai World Cup winning jockey, won his first Breeders’ Cup and was ecstatic about the win. “This is a world championship race, it’s a great thing to be able to win one of our best races here in America and it goes along with the World Cup, it definitely matches that,” said the winning jockey.

Flotilla ($24.80) kept the bombs coming with a hard charging late close in the Juvenile Fillies Turf for trainer Mikel Delzangles. Bona Venture Stables’ Summer of Fun finished third and paid $19.40 for the show. Jockey Ramon Dominguez had nowhere to run on Summer of Fun. “I was in behind horses, tracking the favorite (Sky Lantern) and I had to wait. I think if we had gotten out before the eighth pole, she could have gotten second,” said New York’s leading rider.

Summer of Fun’s trainer George Weaver was pleased with the effort. “I knew she was better than 40-1. I wasn’t surprised that she finished third and wouldn’t have been surprised if she won. She will continue to get better.”  Managing partner Dan Collins was pleased with the finish and the result. “She ran a great race, she just couldn’t get through.” What’s next for Summer of Fun? She ships on Tuesday to Florida and George will decide whether to keep her in training,” said Collins.

Things settled down a little in the Juvenile Fillies when Beholder ($9.80) took them gate-to-wire holding off 3-2 post time favorite Executiveprivilege, who drifted out in the stretch on jockey Rafael Bejarano. It was the first graded stakes win for the 2-year-old Henny Hughes filly. It was the 13th Breeders’ Cup win for jockey Garret Gomez.

The Chad Brown-trained Zagora ($20.40) took over at the sixteenth pole and never looked back to win the BC Filly and Mare Turf. Javier Castellano broke a lengthy winless steak in the Breeders’ Cup in the irons on Zagora.

The track played very fair today and speed held most of the day. Check back here tomorrow for where I’ll be live blogging starting with the first Breeders’ Cup race.  Good luck!

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

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