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Post Time: Friday racing notebook

By Gene Kershner 

Holiday racing has big races today (Clark Handicap) and tomorrow (Cigar) at Churchill Downs and Aqueduct, respectively. 

Clark Handicap 

Game On Dude (8-5) was assigned high weight in the Grade 1 Clark (126 lbs) where he will take on 3-year-old contender Will Take Charge (9-5, 123 lbs) in an attempt to save face after a dismal ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The 9-furlong race is at the Dude's favored distance where he's won seven of nine starts and finished second in another at the distance. Mike Smith will be in the irons for trainer Bob Baffert on the Dude. 

It will be Will Take Charge's 11th race of a long year that has seen him win four times including a Grade 1 (Travers), two Grade 2 victories (Rebel, Penn Derby), as well as his nose loss to Mucho Macho Man in the Classic. A win here could propel him to the 3-year-old male championship with a second consecutive good showing against older horses. Luis Saez gets the mount for the fifth straight time on the son of Unbridled's Song. 

Other contenders include last year's Travers dead-heater Golden Ticket (9-2, 120 lbs.) and Bourbon Courage (8-1, 117 lbs). There is some pace to the race with the Dude, Prayer for Relief (20-1) and Jaguar Paw (20-1), but it looks like it will come down to the main two challengers.  I like Bourbon Courage's chances to hit the board and pick up the pieces should the race fall apart. 

Cigar Mile 

The Grade 1 Cigar Mile at the Big A on Saturday will feature Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents and Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll, both of whom will try to place an exclamation point on their respective seasons. Talk of a 3-year-old championship with a Cigar Mile for Goldencents isn't out of the question, who is partially owned by Kentucky basketball coach Rick Pitino. 

Groupie Doll, running for new owner Mandy Pope, had her final workout on Monday, going four furlongs in 48.55 for trainer "Buff" Bradley.  Pope purchased the daughter of Bowman's Band during the recent Keeneland November breeding stock sale for $3.1 million. Stay Thirsty nipped the champion female sprinter by a nose in last year's edition of the Cigar Mile, so she's taken on the boys before in this very race. 

Todd Pletcher will send out of trio of challengers including Haskell winner Verrazano, King's Bishop winner Capo Bastone and Forty Tales to the gate to challenge the Breeders' Cup winners. 

Fort Erie Festival Racing Proposal 

On Wednesday the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium unveiled their proposal to the Ontario government for a festival racing concept. The proposal detailed a three-weekend meet to be conducted in August 2014 with an emphasis on "The Year of the Horse," representing this year's Chinese New Year. The Year of the Horse celebration would feature a regal horse as its centerpiece, a man-made horse built via a traditional bamboo scaffolding technique, used primarily in Hong Kong. 

The festival strategy combines marketing efforts to ethnic groups, an interactive gaming site called Horses 101, concerts and special tour packages to draw interest from outside of the area. A link to the proposal can be found here

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

Running notebook: Feast after the feast

The long holiday weekend still has some races on the calendar now that the Turkey Trot is over - with one "event" particularly noteworthy.

Last year I had the pleasure of attending the fourth annual Mighty Mile at Chestnut Ridge in Orchard Park. I watched as runners gulped down a taco, ran a quarter mile, eat another taco, ran some more, etc. - until they finished the mile. The story might have been my favorite of 2012. It's not a big reason, and not for every taste, but everyone has a lot of fun.

Black Friday is about to arrive, and the Mighty Mile will come with it. Runners will gather around noon, and the race should begin around 12:30. You can find more details on the Facebook page.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of more formal races on the calendar. Here's the review from buffalorunners.com:

* Home for the Holidays 5K, 135 East Center St. in Medina, 9 a.m. Saturday, (585) 590-0699.

* Amy King 5K, 9 Summit St. in Lakewood, 11 a.m. Saturday.

Happy Thanksgiving.

-- Budd Bailey

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: Friday racing notebook

By Gene Kershner 

Next week's holiday weekend serves up the last big racing of the year with the Clark Handicap at Churchill on Friday and the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. That will round out the racing year for most of the divisions with very few races in December that should impact Eclipse voters. 

Both races have some star power as Game On Dude will try and regain some traction after another abysmal performance in the Breeders' Cup Classic by coming east to run in the Clark. The only way he doesn't run is based on the weight he is assigned per trainer Bob Baffert. 

The roster of known probable starters for the race includes (with trainers): Bourbon Courage (Kellyn Gorder), Easter Gift (Chad Brown), Finnegans Wake (Romans), Game On Dude (Baffert), Golden Ticket (Kenny McPeek), Prayer for Relief (Steve Asmussen) and Will Take Charge (D. Wayne Lukas). 

In a very close race with Orb, who has been retired to stud, for 3-year-old male divisional honors, Will Take Charge would make a big statement with a Grade 1 win in the Clark against older horses. 

The names being floated for the Cigar Mile include three Pletcher horses, Capo Bastone, Verrazano and Forty Tales, in addition to Clearly Now, Groupie Doll and west coast shipper and BC Dirt Mile winner Goldencents. That is shaping up to be quite the contest next Saturday at the Big A. 

Some other random racing notes and thoughts as we head towards the holidays… 

- This Saturday at Delta Downs features the $1 million Grade 3 Delta Jackpot for 2-year-olds has attracted 10 juveniles. Mark Casse-trained Coastline has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite.

- This year's Prince of Wales champion Uncaptured (7-2), will also be in action at Delta Downs on Saturday, running in the $150,000 Delta Mile. Familiar names Decisive Moment (10-1) and Nates Mineshaft (9-2) join the winner of the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown at Fort Erie Race Track this past July.

- I was a guest on Capital OTB-TV's Racing Across America last week and discussed various racing topics including ThoroFan, the Breeders' Cup, Fort Erie and the upcoming Eclipse voting. I come on around the 41-minute mark.

- Best wishes to Bill Tallon, the Canadian editor and correspondent for the Daily Racing Form, who announced his retirement late last week. Bill was always a gentleman to me while covering the last three Plates every June. He'll be sorely missed in the Woodbine press box.

RIP turf writer Paul Moran, a former Buffalonian who spent a number of years covering racing for publications such as Newsday, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and most recently, ESPN.com. Moran passed away recently after a long battle against cancer. I ran into him in a back room at the Preakness last May while we were both waiting to go on radio shows in Buffalo and Albany, respectively.  I deferred to him and went outside to conduct my interview so he could have privacy for his call back to Albany. As we exchanged pleasantries about Buffalo and whatnot, he mentioned that the only reason he was at the Preakness was he thought Orb had a great chance to win the Triple Crown, and that it might be his last chance to see a Triple Crown winner.

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

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 Friday night's show:

Post Time: Reviewing the 2013 racing Kreskin

By Gene Kershner

After finishing .500 in our 2012 racing predictions we hit the skids in our 2013 predictions and up until Breeders' Cup weekend our Kreskin-like prognostications appeared that a big old goose egg was in the cards. But he headed out to California with our rally caps on and finished 2 for 10, hitting our last two predictions at Santa Anita to wrap up the year. Our final post of this year in December will take a look at our 2014 Kreskin predictions…stay tuned.   Here's an overview of this year's guesses with some color commentary: 

  1. 1. Ramon Dominguez will win the jockey title at the inner meet at the Big A by at least 25 victories. In 2010, Ramon won it by 29, in 2011 by 57 and last year he lost by one to Cornelio Velasquez. Whoops. I hope I didn’t jinx him with this prediction. Who would have guessed he would take a bad spill during this meeting that would basically end his riding career. Not a good start. By the way, Javier Castellano took the jockey title during the winter meeting at the Big A.
  2. 2. The Derby winner will come from a middle post. Orb came from an outside gate (posts 15 through 20), winning the Run for the Roses from post No. 16. The second place finisher came from the inside gate (Golden Soul, post No. 4), so we weren't even close.
  3. 3. The Derby winner will come out of the Arkansas Derby. After selecting the Florida Derby the past two years, who win? The Florida Derby winner, of course. Overanalyze, who was being touted by superb handicapper Steve Crist, finished 11th and we are looking at three up and three down.
  4. 4. There will be an inquiry or objection in one of the three Triple Crown races. Nope. Nada. Nil. Nice try, Kreskin. Not looking good, race fans.
  5. 5. The Derby winner will not run again in 2013 after the Preakness. Oh, I meant to write that he wouldn't win again after the Preakness. Orb actually ran in the Belmont (third), Travers (third) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (eighth) before retiring earlier in the month. Zippo for five.
  6. 6. Roger Attfield wins a record ninth Queen’s Plate. It might have helped my cause if he had a starter in the race. Fort Erie's Nick Gonzalez won it with 16-1 Midnight Aria.  You can give me a slight break here as I did pick the $35 winner in the paper!
  7. 7. The Haskell Hat is White. I went with white and it ended up black.  I guess it wasn't exactly black and white. Par for the course.Lots of zeros in the win column.
  8. 8. Churchill Downs will be awarded the 2014 Breeders’ Cup.  It’s been a two-track rotation for six straight years. I doubled down that the BC Board loves those big Churchill crowds and handle numbers to return under the Twin Spires in ’14. However, this is why they call it gambling. Eight up and eight down, picks on life support at this point.
  9. 9. The post time favorite will finish off the board in the Classic. Exact quote: "Game on Dude would have held serve for me here, but will it happen in back-to-back years? I say it will." BOOM! We're on the board and off the schneid.
  10. 10. A 3-year old will finish first or second in the Classic. Will. Take.  Charge.  We made a valiant comeback at the end to finish at the Mendoza line for 2013. I was a little worried about the shutout going into Santa Anita. But D. Wayne Lukas' big colt saved the day, finishing second by a nostril.

I hope you enjoyed the recap and we'll be thinking about some fun 2014 predictions in our year end blog. 

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

Running notebook: Who will win a Biggest Loser race?

Some interesting news from Dan Loncto of Fleet Feet Sports - the Fleet Feet 15K race on Labor Day is getting a version 2.0

The event is going to be changed to include a half-marathon and 5-kilometer run. The date moves to Sunday, August 31, so runners will be on their own for Labor Day.

The television show "The Biggest Loser" will be involved in the presentation of the event, including appearances by contestants. It will be interesting to see if the first half of the Buffalo Marathon course will be used, or if they come up with a different set-up. Details to come.

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

* Michelle's Memorial 5K, 28 Main St. in Middleport, 9 a.m. Saturday, 783-2432.

* Maritime March 5K, 170 Ohio St. in Buffalo, 11 a.m. Saturday, 574-4101. Since the race is down by the waterfront, maybe Pat LaFontaine will drop by to fire the starter's pistol. Then again, he probably is busy these days.

* Northtown Family Pregnancy 5K, Beaver Island State Park 5K, 11 a.m. Saturday, 909-4621.

* GBTC 5K Cross Country Race, Hoyt Lake in Buffalo, 9 a.m. Sunday.

-- Budd Bailey

Army vs. Navy 1963, revisited

By Greg Connors

The 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is being commemorated by media outlets throughout the world. Many football fans know that the NFL went ahead with its games two days after the president’s death, while the AFL postponed that weekend’s games, partly at the urging of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson. 

There was another football game that year that was postponed by a week, one that commanded more national attention than any professional game played that year. That was the 1963 Army-Navy game, the story of which is told in a CBS Sports Network documentary, “Marching On: 1963 Army-Navy Game Remembered,” which debuts tonight at 8 on the cable network. 

If the radio commentator Paul Harvey were still alive, he would be the perfect narrator for “Marching On.” As Harvey might say, “You know what the news was in November 1963. Now you’ll know the rest of the story.” 

College football was more popular than the pro game in 1963, the documentary points out, and there was no bigger game than Army versus Navy. The game regularly drew more than 100,000 spectators in those days. They were attracted not only by the tradition of these amateur warriors – and future military leaders – vying for bragging rights, but the game also represented football at its highest level that year.

Navy was led by Roger Staubach, who became Navy’s second Heisman Trophy winner in four years (halfback Joe Bellino won it in 1960). The Midshipmen were the No. 2 ranked team in the country.

Staubach became a Pro Football Hall of Famer with the Dallas Cowboys, but Army also had a pretty spectacular quarterback of its own in Rollie Stichweh.

Navy was a solid favorite when the teams met in Philadelphia, but Stichweh and the Cadets gave them all they could handle. Spoiler alert: Navy won the game when Stichweh, who had the Cadets at  Navy’s 2-yard-line with the clock running out, appealed to the officials to let him call timeout because of the tremendous crowd noise in the stadium. No timeout was granted and the clock expired, sealing Navy’s 21-15 victory.

CoachbillThe drama of that day, with all of the raw emotions felt by many in the wake of the president’s death, is vividly brought to life in “Marching On.” Among those interviewed are Staubach, Stichweh, former Navy coach Wayne Hardin, former Army coach Paul Dietzel, and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick (pictured), whose father, Steve Belichick, was a Navy assistant.

After tonight’s premiere, CBS Sports Network will re-air “Marching On” at 3 p.m. Friday, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Monday.

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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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