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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Jack Ramsay

(Born on February 21, 1925) -- The basketball fans of Western New York had a hunch that they had a championship coach in town when Jack Ramsay led the Buffalo Braves. They just are sad he didn’t do it here.

Ramsay was born in Philadelphia and stayed in that area for the almost all of the early part of his life. He earned his college degree at St. Joseph’s, and his masters and doctorate at Penn. Ramsay didn’t major in basketball; it just seemed that way.

Ramsay entered the NBA in 1968 as the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. He later coached that team, and jumped to the Braves in 1972. Ramsay stayed through 1976, and helped put together an entertaining team in his time here.

He left in 1976, and immediately guided the Portland Trail Blazers to an NBA title in 1977. That was one of the most famous teams in NBA history, as Bill Walton and Co. defeated Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers in the finals. Ramsay stayed for 10 years in Portland, and then moved to Indiana.

Dr. Jack moved smoothly into broadcasting from there. He did some national and local commentary. Ramsay also wrote several books. He went into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Fred Jackson

(Born on February 20, 1981) -- Coe College has made two memorable contributions to the Buffalo Bills over the years. That’s an amazing number for such a tiny school.

Fred Jackson is the current head of the Coe alumni association on the Bills’ roster. He was considered too small to start on his high school team in Arlington, Texas. Jackson’s junior high coach figured out a way to have Jackson get a look at Coe, known in football circles as the alma mater of former Bills’ coach Marv Levy.

Jackson was a standout in college, making five All-American teams while playing Division III football in 2002. He scored 29 touchdowns that year. Still he went undrafted. So, it was on to indoor football and NFL Europa.

Levy invited Jackson to training camp in 2006, and he got into the lineup in 2007. By 2009 Jackson was a standout, gaining more than 1,000 yards rushing. In 2011, an outstanding season was spoiled by a broken leg, but he still rushed for 934 yards in 10 games.

Jackson returned to health in 2012 for the most part, and he and C.J. Spiller teamed up to do most of the Bills’ rushing last season. Buffalo didn’t have a great many offensive weapons last season, and it was odd that two of their best played the same position.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Marta

(Born on February 19, 1986) -- There’s a little sorrow involved in the local career of soccer superstar Marta. She has to be the best player ever to dress for a Western New York team who never played a game in Western New York.

Marta is the gold standard when it comes to women’s soccer. She was discovered in Brazil at the age of 14, and trained with one of that country’s top soccer clubs. Marta turned pro in 2000 but saw the team fold in 2002.

It was on to other club teams from there, and she was named the world’s best woman’s soccer player in 2006 ... and for the next four years after that as well. Marta came to America in 2009, and the Western New York Flash acquired her rights in 2011.

The expansion team was loaded with talent, and Marta fit right in. She helped the team - which played its home games in Rochester because of stadium issues - win a championship.

Then Marta moved on to Sweden to play in a women’s league there. She’s played in the Olympics, and is the top scorer in women’s World Cup history. Marta even has been named an official good will ambassador for the United Nations.

--- Budd Bailey

Video: Best NBA player of all time -- LeBron or Jordan?

Watch other segments from this week's "Bucky & Sully Show" here.

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Alexander Mogilny

(Born on February 18, 1969) -- When it comes to dramatic entrances to Buffalo, Alexander Mogilny is in a class by himself.

Mogilny was one of the top young players in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, teaming up with Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov on national teams. However, Mogilny grew disenchanted with the Soviet hockey system, and went looking for a way out.

He found it in the spring of 1989, when he defected to the United States. The Sabres had drafted him 89th overall the previous year, and helped him make the cloak-and-dagger move that attracted worldwide publicity.

Mogilny put on uniform number 89 and debuted for the Sabres that fall. He scored a goal in his first game. The right winger overcame a fear of flying and soon became a star. Mogilny scored 76 goals for the Sabres in 1992-93.

The forward stayed through 1995, when he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks. Mogilny went on to play for the Devils and Maple Leafs. While 1992-93 was a tough act to follow, Mogilny still scored 473 goals in 990 games. It will be interesting to see if that’s enough to get him into the Hockey Hall of Fame some day.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Lindy Ruff

(Born on February 17, 1960) - Second-round draft choices in hockey make an impact only some of the time. It’s fair to say Lindy Ruff more than met that standard.

Ruff was born in Warburg, Alberta, and played junior hockey in the Western Hockey League. The Sabres took Mike Ramsey in the first round of the 1979 Entry Draft and Ruff in the second.

Lindy stayed through the 1988-89 season, becoming a captain along the way. Ruff spent some time as a wing and some time as a defenseman; the versatility probably kept him in the league for some extra time. He had 20 goals in 1985-86.

Ruff was eventually traded to the Rangers, and moved into coaching after retiring as a player. He was put in a difficult situation in 1997 when he was hired to replace Ted Nolan, a fan favorite. The new coach did the best job he could, and found a home here ... again.

Ruff is the longest-tenured coach in the NHL at the moment, and he’s coached more games than any Sabre coach in history. Ruff also wouldn’t mind a return to the Stanley Cup finals, something he did in 1999.

--- Budd Bailey

Live Blog from Rochester: Bandits vs. Knighthawks

6:51 p.m. - Hello from the Blue Cross Arena. Are we in for a different storyline that we  had last week when the Bandits played the Knighthawks in Buffalo last week, or will we get something different.

Stay tuned for the answer. The two teams are set to meet for the third time this season, which is a lot considering it is game seven of the season. I asked coach Mike Hasen about the schedule, and he said there aren't many surprises when two teams play each other so often; it's all about execution.

The Bandits continue to reassemble the 2001 team. OK, just kidding. But Scott Komer is on the roster as a backup goalie. He replaces Kurtis Wagar, who had a back injury suffered last week against Rochester. Wagar had an MRI and checked out cleanly, but was put on the practice squad to give him some time to recover.

Komer was a teammate of Shawn Williams and John Tavares on the 2001 Bandits, after Matt Disher was traded. He didn't play much. Komer has been on the Barrie Blizzard of the Canadian League lately. In fact, he writes a blog for the web site. Scott isn't bad at it, worth a look if you are so inclined.

Anthony Cosmo will get the start tonight. Tonight's Buffalo scratches ae Hayden Smith, Carter Bender and Kevin Brownell. So the rookies get to sit and the vets take their turn. For Rochester, Casey Powell is scratched.

7:13 p.m. - Just to pass this along - Ted Nolan, who serves as an executive in the Knighthawks' organization, moonlights as the hockey coach of the Latvia hockey team. He'll be going to the Olympics next year as Latvia qualified for the Games. Nice job.

 7:35 p.m. - We are about ready to go. Don't know if this is on Time Warner Cable back in Buffalo, but it doesn't look like it. Try nll.com to get to YouTube/TheLacrosseNetwork.

Matt Vinc and Anthony Cosmo are the opposing goalies just like last week.

7:42 p.m. - Plenty of Buffalo Bandits' fans are in the building. They seem louder than last time. They just cheered a Shawn Williams goal. Buffalo up, 1-0.

7:44 p.m. - Both goalies have been pretty steady. Cosmo didn't sound particularly confident after last week's game - understandable - but he's done a good job in the opening 6:15.

7:52 p.m. - Scott Self's brother tied the score for Rochester. He got free on transition and scored on a semi-breakaway. Bandits just did a good job of killing off a Rochester power play, and now they have a man-advantage situation of their own.

7:59 p.m. - We have finished a period of play, and it's been a calm one. It's tied at 1-1 after 15 minutes. Not a great many glittering scoring opportunities.

8:08 p.m. - About five minutes gone, and it's still 1-1. This may be the dullest story in history for the first edition at this rate; it's tough to describe missed chances.

Just said hello to NLL Commissioner George Daniel, who said he tries to make the rounds of league cities during the season. I asked him about an All-Star Game, since nothing has been announced on that front and we're getting late. He said the logistics this year just wouldn't work, so it looks as if one won't be played this year.

8:17 p.m. - I'm not sure what the team record is for fewest combined goals in a half. We gotta to be close to it. Luke Wiles put Buffalo up 2-1. Otherwise, there have been lots of shots but no goals. Very odd.

8:28 p.m - We've had a burst of scoring, by our standards. Lately, it's been all Buffalo - three straight scores. Luke Wiles, Dhane Smith and Scott Self have the Buffalo fans chanting. Only 32.8 seconds left in the half.

8:30 p.m. - At halftime, the Bandits lead, 5-3. Rochester has a 28-26 lead in shots.

8:52 p.m. - The tempo has picked up early in the second half, although we only have a goal to show for it. Cory Vitarelli, who had a big game last week in Buffalo, scored for Rochester to cut the lead to 5-4. Both goalies have had some good stops.

8:56 p.m. - A Nick Cotter goal, originally waved off, was counted after a review. And Dhane Smith just added a score to make it 7-4, Buffalo.

9:06 p.m. - Bandits have done a good job answering any challenges. Buffalo leads by a 9-5 count with 4:42 in the third period. Aaron Wilson and Wiles added some insurance.

9:14 p.m. - Bandits have a 9-5 lead after three quarters. It's a hat trick for Wiles, and two goals for Dhane Smith. But the story so far probably has been Anthony Cosmo, who has turned in a very good performance - probably his best of the season.

9:25 p.m. - Bandits are still up by four at 10-6. No sign of a sustained rally by Rochester lately.

9:33 p.m. That's still the case. The score is even the same at 10-6 with 3:36 left. Important not to go into the bye week with a three-game losing streak.

9:42 p.m. - That's the way it ends. Cosmo had 53 saves.

11:02 p.m. - Bandits were obviously happy and relieved to win this one. They adjusted their defense a bit in order to pack the middle and push the Knighthawks to the outside. You'd have to say it worked with the best defensive output of the season. A 4-3 record sounds much better than 3-4 going into the break.

--- Budd Bailey

Video: Bozos of the Week from the latest 'Bucky & Sully Show'

Watch other segments from this week's "Bucky & Sully Show" here.

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Elbert Dubenion

(Born on February 16, 1933) -- Buffalo sports figures have had plenty of good nicknames over the years. “Golden Wheels” ranks with any of them.

Elbert Dubenion was born in Georgia and played college football at Bluffton, a school in northwest Ohio. The college even has a tribute to Dubenion on its web site.

It took the wide receiver a year to land in professional football. He turned up in the first training camp in Bills’ history in 1960, which was held in East Aurora. Conditions were a little primitive, but Dubenion didn’t mind at all.

He moved into a starting job, and caught 42 passes that first year for 752 yards. That’s an average of about 18 yards per catch, showing his speed. By 1964 he averaged an amazing 27.1 yards per catch, and helped the Bills win an AFL title. Dubenion stayed with the team until 1968.

Then he moved smoothly into scouting, and spotted a wide receiver at a small Pennsylvania college who he thought had potential. Elbert Dubenion turned out to be right about Andre Reed.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Weekend racing notes

By Gene Kershner

The holiday weekend serves up the last two races making up the first leg of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Series." Golden Gate Fields and Oaklawn Park are the sites for the last two races under the 10-4-2-1 point scenario. Next weekend we move into the second leg where the points elevate to 50-20-10-5 through Mar. 24 when the final seven prep races will be worth 100-40-20-10 to the first four finishers. Most pundits are estimating 30-40 points should qualify a horse for the Kentucky Derby.

El Camino Real Derby

On Saturday, the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby will be run just outside of San Francisco, the only race at Golden Gate Fields to be a part of the new Series of qualifying races. A field of nine horses will head to the gate which will include California Derby winner Zeewat (5-2) who will attempt to give jockey Russell Baze his ninth El Camino Real winner. Bob Baffert ships in Manando, the 9-5 morning line favorite, and Aaron Gryder will ride. Manando finished third in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes behind current points co-leader Goldencents. There appears to be an abundance of speed in the race and looks like it should be a duel between the top two.  

Southwest Stakes

On President’s Day, Oaklawn Park will be the site of its second race of the Series, the Southwest Stakes.  Will Take Charge looks to build upon his win in the Smarty Jones Stakes where he picked up 10 points for the victory last month. He will likely face Super Ninety Nine, another Bafffert California shipper who will bring along Rafael Bejarano for the ride. Super Ninety Nine was one of 23 horses included in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager (KDFW) last weekend. Baffert was on fire last year in the Oaklawn prep races winning the Smarty Jones, both divisions of the Southwest and the Arkansas Derby. Other potential challengers include Always In a Tiz, third place finisher in the Smarty Jones behind Texas Bling, another horse likely to enter. Brown Almighty, who has success on the turf, will try one more time for trainer Tim Ice to see if he can follow in the footsteps of his daddy, the 2008 Derby-Preakness winner Big Brown.  

Other Notes

- The 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, was still in serious condition yesterday after surgery on Wednesday for complications incurred after foaling a Bernardini filly early Tuesday morning at Stonestreet Farm. It was discovered during surgery at nearby Rood and Riddle that she had damaged an area in the small colon during the foaling process. She is currently on intravenous antibiotics and fluids in her attempts to recover. The filly, that weighed 140 pounds at birth, is in good health and is under the care of a nurse mare at Stonestreet. 

- Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) announced 109 layoffs of salaried personnel on Wednesday afternoon, including three in its top notch media office. Reduced revenue from agreements with the Ontario government and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation were the impetus for the restructuring at Woodbine.

- Last weekend’s KDFW Pool 1 closed with the “All Others” choice as the overwhelming favorite at 8-5. Seven horses finished between 11-1 and 16-1, including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby who ended up at 13-1. The pool produced the second highest handle in its 15-year history with over $621,000 wagered over the three-day period last weekend. Two more future pools are scheduled before the Run for the Roses on May 5.

The current top ten in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Series include the following:

Rank

Horse

Points

1

Shanghai Bobby

24

2

Goldencents

24

3

Oxbow

11

4

Violence

10

5

Itsmyluckyday

10

6

Overanalyze

10

7

Uncaptured

10

8

Den’s Legacy

10

9

Power Broker

10

10

Will Take Charge

10

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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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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