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Running notebook: Boo!

Tonight represents something of an interesting experiment.

It's odd to have a night race around these parts, particularly because of the weather. Organizers will try to stage a Halloweek 5K at 7:30 tonight at Niagara Square, with the proceeds going to the Police Athletic League. It will be interesting to see how the attendance is, as some people have family responsibilities and others will be handing out candy at home.

In the meantime, here's the weekend schedule from Buffalorunners.com

* Buffalorunners 10K, Chestnut Ridge Park Casino in Orchard Park, 9 a.m. Saturday, 649-1530. A nice little event, and deliberately so, will be held by runners for runners.

* Circuit Stompers 5K Run, 2909 Transit Road in Newfane, 10 a.m. Saturday, 778-7674. I think this race has a new name, but has been going on for a while. They picked a good Saturday, certainly, in terms of competition.

* Bob Ivory Run, 845 Kenmore Ave. in the Town of Tonawanda, 9 a.m. Sunday, 270-4115. It's a News Runner of the Year race, and could decide some championships since it's tougher to gain points because of the large Turkey Trot field. I always joke with Bob Ivory that his race has put out so many different items over the years that his name is on products all over my house - towels, mugs, vests, etc. Can't wait to see what this year's is.

-- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Ron the Greek out of BC Classic

By Gene Kershner

ARCADIA, Ca. -- A quarter crack in his right front foot has sidelined Ron the Greek for Saturday's $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic. Trainer Ron Mott told reporters this morning that the son of Full Mandate would not participate in the penultimate event of this year's Breeders' Cup. "Unfortunatey, we're going to have to scratch him," Mott said. "He had an abscess that broke open in his foot. It's not a major problem, but it's all a matter of timing and he won't be able to run on Saturday."

Apparently the abscess was discovered Wednesday afternoon during feed time. Mott feels the 6-year-old could resume his regular schedule by mid-November. He comes out of a win in the prestigious Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Super Saturday last month, a race that has produced the last three winners of the Classic. "I would estimate that in a couple of weeks' time he could be on the race track and probably be back in full training," said Mott.

Ron the Greek was fourth in last year's Classic and won the mile and a quarter Santa Anita Handicap in March 2012. He has over $2.7 million in career earnings. His absence likely will not impact the pace as he was a late running horse who did his best work in deep stretch.

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

Post Time: Breeders' Cup Friday quick picks

By Gene Kershner

ARCADIA, Ca. -- The weather is picture-perfect in Arcadia, just outside of Los Angeles, for this weekend's Breeders' Cup (BC) world championships. We're back at beautiful Santa Anita Park amid the palm trees and the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains. The two-day festival of racing will feature 14 Breeders' Cup races culminating in the $5 million BC Classic in prime time Saturday evening on NBC (Ch. 2, 8-9 p.m. ET).

Friday's five championship races will be carried live on NBC Sports Network (4-8 p.m. ET). The big rematch between Princess of Sylmar and Royal Delta in the BC Distaff should be th highlight of the day at the Great Race Place.

Let's look at Friday's last four Breeders' Cup races (Races 7-10) making up the late Pick-4 and offer some quick picks and thoughts to consider when handicapping. It's time to dig for some gold, similary to Kentucky Derby day; there is opportunity for a major score based on past history.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf

My Pick-4 will be do or die early on with the $1 million Juvenile Turf for 2-year-olds. I decided to put my marbles on two of the horses in here and am hoping they will stay true to form. The talented Kitten's Joy 2-year-old 5-Bobby's Kitten (5-2) and 2-Giovanni Boldini 7-2), a $675K purchase sired by War Front are my top two selections.

The Ramseys ran away with the title of top owner at Saratoga this year. They set a record number of wins in one meet (22), while amassing $1.7 million in earnings. They will be seeking their third career BC win, the first coming at Santa Anita in 2010 in the Dirt Mile (Furthest Land) and again in the Juvenile Fillies in 2011 at Churchill Downs (Stephanie's Kitten). 

Stalwart European trainer Aidan O'Brien sends two horses postward in Giovanni Boldini and 9-Wilshire Boulevard (8-1).  Ryan Moore jumps off Wilshire after a fourth-place finish in a Group 1 race at Longchamp in France to ride the second choice, Giovanni Boldini. Moore has won the BC Juvenile Turf the last two years (Wrote - 2011; George Vancouver - 2012), so he knows how to win this race Trainer O'Brien (83-7-11-6) has won over $12.4 million in BC purse money and rarely brings a horse that can't compete to the Cup. I'm banking on the Euro factor here. 

I'll round out my trifecta with 4-Outstrip (4-1) and the all-time leading BC jockey in wins, Mike
Smith. 

Post Time Outlook: 1-Giovanni Boldini; 2-Bobby's Kitten and; 3-Outstrip

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile

In six previous editions of the $1 million BC Dirt Mile, the favorite has never won and has hit the board only one time (Discreet Cat, 2007, third), which doesn't bode well for 10-Verrazano (3-1), the morning line favorite. This race appears to wide open so we'll be going fairly deep in our Pick-4 play in an attempt to catch a price. This race typically sees a hot early pace with splits of 22 and 45 and change, usually resulting in a pace meltdown with the winner coming from the back of the pack. With Santa Anita likely to be a super freeway over the weekend, we'll include front runner and late pace horses in our play.

A horse that has revived his career is 11-Pants on Fire (6-1). The son of Jump Start has been working lights out for owners George and Lori Hall and trainer Kelly Breen. He comes off two graded stakes wins and his running style looks to be favorable in this race. Regular rider Paco Lopez will be in the irons for the Halls.

Another horse I'm including is 4-Brujo de Olleros (8-1), second to Graydar in the Grade 2 Kelso, a horse that likely would have been favored in this race before pulling out over the weekend. He comes in third off the layoff for trainer Richard Mettee, who is looking for his first BC training victory. the horse was bred in Brazil and raced in Uruguay before coming to the States in the middle of 2012 for new owner Team Valor.

A horse that may relish a cutback in distance is 1-Taptowne (15-1), a colt that finished second to Pants on Fire in the Ack Ack Handicap two races back at Churchill Downs. Keep in mind he also shares the same sire as last year's Dirt Mile winner, Tapizar, who paid $32.60 to win.  [UPDATE FRI AM 11:45 a.m.: Taptowne has scratched due to a foot bruise]

If there is a complete pace meltdown, it will be difficult to keep last year's Travers dead-heater 2-Golden Ticket (12-1) off your Pick-4 ticket as he will surely be making a late run at the early front runners.

I will include two west coast entries 5-Fed Biz (6-1) and 12-Goldencents (4-1), as both have had success over the Santa Anita strip and will relish the souped-up track. Both horses have been working well in the mornings.

Difficult to exclude Verrazano, but I've burned too much money on him already this year and it's time to take a stand against him.

Post Time Outlook: 1-Pants on Fire; 2-Brujo de Olleros and; 3-Fed Biz

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

In the five-year history of the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf once again the favorite has never won the race and has only hit the board twice. The fact that second choice 14-My Conquestadory (9-2) is on the far outside surely doesn't make one lick their chops either. We'll try and beat her with some wacky strategy by going fairly deep into the field.

Get a load of this logic, I'm throwing in the three Euros, 6-Vorda (4-1), 8-Chrisellium (6-1) and 12-Testa Rossi (8-1) with the three Chad Brown-trained fillies (red-hot turf trainer). Brown's three include 4-Kitten's Kaboodle (12-1), 5-Granny's McKitten (20-1) and 11-Ready to Act (8-1). Toss in 10-Clenor (8-1) from the SoCal circuit and we're hoping to catch decent price horses in the middle two legs.

Post Time Outlook: 1-Testa Rossi; 2-Vorda and: 3-Ready to Act

Breeders' Cup Distaff

The biggest race of the first day of championship racing is unquestionably the $2 million BC Distaff (formerly known as the Ladies' Classic). The 9-furlong race will feature a rematch between two-time Distaff winner 4-Royal Delta (8-5) and the likely 3-year-old female champion 6-Princess of Sylmar (9-5). In last month's Grade 1 Beldame Invitational at Belmont Park, the Princess surged past the 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker in deep stretch to win in her first try against older horses.

Trainer Bill Mott can extend two records if his defending champ repeats: a fourth straight Distaff and a sixth overall victory in the race. He won the Distaff in 1997 (Ajina), 1998 (Escena) and 2010 (Unrivaled Belle). He can also set a new record with a third straight victory with the same horse. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Royal Delta, who ironically was in the saddle for Princess of Sylmar's biggest win in the Kentucky Oaks last May. Mott will also send out another filly, 3-Close Hatches (6-1), runaway winner of the Cotillion at Parx in September, who also had Smith in the irons subbing in for the injured Joel Rosario, who regains the mount here.

The connections of Princess of Sylmar who proclaimed during the summer meet at Saratoga that she likely wouldn't head to Santa Anita, quickly changed course after the win in the Beldame. The possibility of a Horse of the Year title could await the Princess if she wins impressively in the Distaff and Game on Dude falters on Saturday in the Classic. Jockey Javier Castellano has ridden her to victories in her last three races, retains the mount for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Another horse who should be given consideration is last year's BC Juvenile Fillies winner 5-Beholder (5-2) trained by Richard Mandella and ridden by 50-year-old Gary Stevens. With all of the attention being drawn towards Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar, this is a filly that is proven over the track and only lost by a half-length in the Kentucky Oaks to the Princess.

Rarely does Bill Mott show up on the biggest days with his horses not ready to run. I'm going with Royal Delta for the three-peat in a hotly-contested race to avenge last month's loss in the Beldame.

Post Time Outlook: 1-Royal Delta; 2-Princess of Sylmar; and 3-Beholder

************************************

Be sure to come back and visit the Sports, Ink blog on Saturday afternoon for a live blog of the Saturday card, starting with the first BC race at 3:05 p.m. ET through the Breeders' Cup Classic.

 

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

Bonus interview from Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame

Here is my interview with former Giants tight end Mark Bavaro, who was part of inductee Phil McConkey's entourage.

 

Mark Bavaro

Interviews from Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame

By Miguel Rodriguez

It was that time of year again Wednesday as the 23rd class of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame received induction into Western New York's most hallowed hall for those who impacted the local sports scene.

It was a intriguing class to say the least with a Super Bowl champion (Phil McConkey), Stanley Cup champ (Todd Marchant) and Olympic gold medalist (Jenn Suhr, pole vaulter) being honored, as well as a two-time state high school football champion coach (Dick Diminuco of Albion), a multi-sport star athlete in Pam Amabile (All-American in basketball and softball at Erie Community College as well as a three-time Empire State Games gold medalist in women's ice hockey), a bowling legend Art Jeziorski, ex-Buffalo State coach/administrator Fred Hartrick (who coached 14 All-Americans in soccer and played a role in construction of the school's current Buffalo State Sports Arena) and someone who has covered/witnessed 46 years of Buffalo sports history in News Sports Reporter Milt Northrop.

We were able to chat with most of the inductees and here are the interviews. Please note, Suhr did not attend the dinner, while I experienced technical difficulties with Amabile's interview so there isn't any audio of those two honorees.

 

 

Art Jeziorski

 

Fred Hartrick

 

Milt Northrop

 

Phil McConkey

 

Todd Marchant

 

Dick Diminuco

Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame dinner

By Miguel Rodriguez The mingling and dinner portion of 23rd Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame induction gala is over. The main program has begun with moment of silence for Hall members who passed away since last year, which includes late News columnist Larry Felser. Some of highlights from those I've interviewed already. -- Former Buffalo State Coach and Administrator Fred Hartrick: "This is the best honor I've ever received." Hartrick coach late great Randy Smith in soccer and also coach Cal Kern. -- Pam Amabile, a softball and basketball All-American at ECC and an ice hockey pioneer. She won four Empire State Games gold medals in softball and then won three more in ice hockey. "It's a thrill to be recognized with all these elite athletes." -- Former N.Y. Giant and Super Bowl champion Phil McConkey: "I'm humbled to be a part of this class. An Olympic gold medalist (Jenn Suhr, pole vaulter), NHL world champion Stanley Cup player (Todd Marchant), Milt Northrop (News Sports Reporter), icon of Buffalo sports and on, and on. It's a great group. I'm proud to be a part of yhe Class of 2013.":

Video: Bucky & Sully on WBBZ, by segment

News Sports Columnists Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan have a live show that airs on WBBZ-TV twice weekly, at 7 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.

Find out where to find WBBZ here.

Here are segments from tonight's show:

Continue reading "Video: Bucky & Sully on WBBZ, by segment" »

Video: Bucky & Sully on WBBZ, by segment

News Sports Columnists Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan have a live show that airs on WBBZ-TV twice weekly, at 7 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.

Find out where to find WBBZ here.

Here are segments from tonight's show:

Continue reading "Video: Bucky & Sully on WBBZ, by segment" »

Post Time: The racing world turns to Woodbine

By Gene Kershner

On Sunday afternoon the 76th running of the $1 million Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International at the world famous turf course at Woodbine. The International will go to post at 5:42 ET, with the winner bringing home $600,000.

Defending champion Joshua Tree (6-1) will make his fourth consecutive appearance and will attempt to win his third International after capturing the 2010 and 2012 editions of the race. Oddly, he'll try and win this year's race for a third trainer, Ed Dunlop, as his 2010 win was direct by Aidan O'Brien and last year's winning trainer was Marco Botti. He is the field's leading money winner with over $3.1 million in career earnings, but in winless in six starts since last year's International victory.

His main competition will come from one of two Pattison horses trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield. Forte Dei Marmi (3-1), no stranger to this race, will enter the gate on a three-race win streak and as the morning line favorite. Attfield, who is a member of both the Canadian and U.S. Halls of Fame, has never won the International, and it would surely be a feather in his cap. He'll also send Perfect Timber (12-1) postward with Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Velazquez in from the New York circuit to ride.

"I'm quite happy with the post positions for both horses," Attfield told the Woodbine media office. "Yes, He's (Forte Dei Marmi) in great shape. Both horses are really, really doing well. It would appear that Forte Dei Marmi has been in good form for a little while now. I just hope we can keep  him there for a bit longer," he said.

Chad Brown will ship Hyper (5-1) in after winning his last two on the NYRA circuit and top jockey Joel Rosario will make his first appearance at Woodbine since running in the Queen's Plate in July. Ken and Sarah Ramsey's 6-year-old son of Victory Gallop has thrived at longer distances and should relish the mile and a half distance on the spectacular Woodbine turf course.

One horse that peaked my interest is the 4-year-old French bred Lucayan (8-1) who comes off two strong finishes on the west coast at Santa Anita and Del Mar. He will be reunited with French jockey Stephane Pasquier on Sunday, who rode him in his first eight career races in France, before being shipped over to the States. In the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Classic at Santa Anita he finished third by two lengths behind Breeders' Cup Turf-bound Indy Point. I'm looking for this one to step up with his French rider aboard.

Bill Mott will ship in Slumber (4-1) who comes off a fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on Super Saturday at Belmont last month, with Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the irons. That race's first three finishers will all head to Santa Anita next week and run in the Breeders' Cup. Slumber finished only one and a quarter length behind Little Mike that day. Mott won the 1995 International with Lassigny, and will look to spark Juddmonte Farms to a record fourth victory in the International.

The hometown rooting favorite will be the filly, Irish Mission (20-1) who finished fourth only a length behind the two Attfield horses and Stormy Len (6-1) in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer on Woodbine Mile day at Woodbine. She could be the outside long shot due to her familiarity with the turf course. She also sports a couple of super workouts over the past month, so she looks fit for the race.

The Woodbine media office have set a Twitter hashtag for the event (#WOIntl), so be sure to follow all of the tweets from Woodbine on Sunday during International Day.

Be sure to see my Breeders' Cup preview in Saturday's print issues of The Buffalo News.

Post Time Outlook: 1 - Slumber (GB); 2 - Lucayan; 3 - Forte Dei Marmi (GB)  Long shot: Irish Mission.

 

The field for the 76th Canadian International:

PP Horse Trainer Jockey Odds
1 Hyper Brown Rosario 5-1
2 Temeraine Proctor Contreras 15-1
3 Lucayan (FR) Drysdale Pasquier 8-1
4 Perfect Timber Attfield Velazquez 12-1
5 Joshua Tree (IRE) Dunlop Moore 6-1
6 Stormy Len Donk Prado 20-1
7 Now We Can (GB) N. Clement Thulliez 20-1
8 Forte Dei Marmi (GB) Attfield Da Silva 3-1
9 Seismos (IRE) Wohler Atzeni 10-1
10 Irish Mission Frostad Boulanger 20-1
11 Slumber (GB) Mott ME Smith 4-1

 

 

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

Running notebook: One more time

Here's a lesson that's worth repeating ... so I repeated it recently.

At an area race, a race director was saying how difficult it was to get established on the calendar. I gave him one bit of old advice - you'd be amazed how many people skip races because the awards are handed out in 10-year age-groups.

Think about it - if six extra people show up for a given race because there are five-year age-groups, that's an extra $150 in the pile (assuming an average of $25 for day-of-race registration). You can cover the cost of plenty of awards for $150.

In other news, Ed Whitlock of Toronto has run in Buffalo in the past. He was at it again in Toronto last week. Whitlock turned in a 3 hour, 41 minute marathon. Oh, right. Ed is 82 years old. That's an age-group record.

Here's the weekend list of races. It's another busy one, according to buffalorunners.com:

* Strider Glider Quarter Marathon, Westwood Park in Lancaster, 9 a.m. Saturay, 713-6102. This race had a nice debut last year, clearing doing a lot right. It had better do it right, though, since runners were organizing it.

* Jack O'Lantern Fall Classic, 5K, Goat Island in Niagara Falls, 10 a.m. Saturday, 282-1228. It's always a pretty run, and there's prize money at the end for some runners.

* Maggie Lee Memorial 5K Run, 2 Nottingham Terrace in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday, 883-5396. This is a nice little race that goes around Delaware Park.

* LockRock 8K, 80 Main St. in Lockport, 10 a.m. Saturday, 478-4453. It's a new race, and it's interesting to see an 8K event at this point in the calendar. Good Turkey Trot practice.

* Making Tracks for Families 5K, 2909 S. Park Ave. in Lackawanna, 10 a.m. Sunday, 634-1058.

* Niagara Falls International Marathon, various, Buffalo to Niagara Falls, 10 a.m. Sunday, (905) 356-9460.

* Alzheimer's Halloween 5K Fun Run, 540 Parkhurst Blvd. in Tonawanda, 2 p.m. Sunday. Interesting to see a race compete against a Bills' game. Also interesting that runners can purchase t-shirts if they want on, rather than being forced to accept one with registration. Active runners certainly will like that idea.

-- 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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