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LPGA Championship reportedly leaving Rochester for NYC

By Jay Skurski

The Wegmans LPGA Championship in August at Monroe Golf Club in Pittsford will reportedly be the last one held in the Rochester area.

According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the LPGA plans to move the event to New York City starting in 2015. An official announcement is expected Thursday, according to the paper.

That will end a run of 38 straight years with an LPGA event being held in Rochester. For the first 37 of those, it was at Locust Hill Country Club. This year, after the LPGA made it clear it wanted to rotate courses for its championship, the Tour reached a one-year agreement with Monroe, shifting from its usual spot on the calendar in June to Aug. 14-17.

Moving the tournament away from Rochester meant the Tour ran the risk of losing Wegmans as the championship's title sponsor, as it has been for the past four years. According to the report, however, the LPGA has reached an agreement with auditing firm KPMG to serve as the title sponsor starting in 2015. The opportunities for corporate sponsorship are greater in New York than they are in Rochester.

Of course, what remains to be seen is the level of fan support the championship will get in its new home. While the LPGA does not keep official attendance figures, the Rochester community is known to have been a loyal base for nearly four decades. Despite the opportunity to draw from a much bigger population down state, there's no guarantee that will happen. 

A press conference previewing this year's Wegmans LPGA Championship is scheduled for Monday at Monroe.

 

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 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.

Find out where to find WBBZ here.

Here are segments from tonight's show:

Buffalo Marathon race day details

679390 BUFFALO MARATHON #23
Runners race through the Erie Basin Marina during the 13th annual Buffalo Marathon in Buffalo Sunday, May 26, 2013. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

 

Thousands of runners will descend on downtown Buffalo's streets early Sunday, meaning vehicles will have limited access to roads for a good part of the morning. Be prepared to adjust driving routes accordingly.

Here are some bits of information and advice for those looking to attend or avoid Sunday's foot traffic:

What time does the race start?

The full, half and relay marathon races all begin at 7 a.m. at the intersection of Franklin and Huron streets, but expect surrounding streets to be packed with racers for hours before the gun sounds. Runners will swarm the starting line to warm up. Registrants who waited until the last minute to pick up their bibs will be grabbing their race packets beginning at 5:30 a.m. at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, 153 Franklin St.

When will the race end?

According to the official Buffalo Marathon website, "marathon runners who finish under six hours will receive a commemorative finisher’s medal," meaning runners could feasibly be occupying race-designated roads until at least 1 p.m.  A post-race award ceremony party will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

Which roads will be closed and for how long?

Here's what the marathon website has to say about that:

"Course will be closed for traffic for 3 hours at the half way point. Any participants planning to take longer than 6 hours for the marathon should bring a course map and hydration with them and finish on the sidewalks."

 Here's an image of the full and half marathon race routes that ran in Friday's edition of The Buffalo News:

Marathonmap

 

Where can I go to watch the race?

Marathon organizers were kind enough to list their picks for best spots to watch within walking distance of the starting lines:

  • Pearl Street and Court Street
  • Niagara Square
  • Erie Street and Marine Drive, near 4.5-, 6- and 12-mile markers

To watch by car, go to:

  • Meadow Road and Nottingham Parkway
  • Hertel and Wellington avenues
  • Delaware Avenue at North Street

Post Time: Triple Crown Near-Misses by the Numbers

By Gene Kershner 

Thoroughbred racing has had 11 near-misses since Affirmed defeated Alydar in 1978 to become the 11th Triple Crown champion in history and the third in six years in the 1970's. Let's take a look behind some of the numbers in those 11 attempts in the last 35 years and the oddities as we sit two weeks away from the 12th attempt by California Chrome.

- The average odds of the Derby-Preakness winner when leaving the gate in the Belmont was just above 4-5, basically odds-on. Of the near-misses, three horses were more than even money, with Charismatic in 1999 the highest price favorite at 1.60-1.

- The average attendance on a potential Triple Crown date is over 82,000, with the more recent attempts nearing and exceeding six figures. I'm projecting somewhere in excess of 100,000 on June 7 just based on California Chrome's popularity. When I'll Have Another scratched the day before the Belmont in 2012, the attendance was still north of 85,000 fans.

- Out of the 11 near-misses, the Triple Crown hopeful finished second or third four times each. Only three horses missed the board completely, with Alysheba rounding out the superfecta in 1987.

- The average odds of the winner was approximately 19-1 over the near-misses since 1978, however that is skewed sharply by the last five tries that averaged over 35-1 due to big bombs such as Lemon Drop Kid (1999), Sarava (2002), Birdstone (2004) and Da'Tara (2008).

- In the six tries between 1979 and 1998, the odds of the horse that served up a Triple Crown spoiler was less than 5-1.

Here's a look behind the numbers at the 11 Triple Crown misses since 1979:

Triple Crown Near-Misses Since 1977    
        Winner  
Year Horse  Odds  Finish Odds  Attendance 
1979 Spectacular Bid 0.30 3rd 4.40           59,987
1981 Pleasant Colony 0.80 3rd 7.90           61,200
1987 Alysheba 0.80 4th 8.00           64,772
1989 Sunday Silence 0.90 2nd 1.60           64,959
1997 Silver Charm 1.05 2nd 2.65           70,682
1998 Real Quiet 0.80 2nd 4.50           80,162
1999 Charismatic 1.60 3rd 29.75           85,818
2002 War Emblem 1.25 8th 70.25          103,222
2003 Funny Cide 1.00 3rd 2.00          101,864
2004 Smarty Jones 0.35 2nd 36.00          120,139
2008 Big Brown 0.30 DNF 38.50            94,476
           
  Average     0.83   18.69           82,480

 

Next Friday we'll take a look at the Belmont probable entries and grade out their chances for a Triple Crown upset on June 7 in Elmont.

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

Running notebook: The biggest weekend of the year

The Buffalo Marathon continues to grow as an event, and it's easy to be optimistic about its future. The latest running will be held on Sunday, of course, but it is surrounded by other events as well.

First off, for those planning ahead, Bart Yasso of Runner's World will be having an informal run from the Hyatt to the waterfront and back on Saturday. He does this whenever he travels. Based on one conversation, he'll be good company. Meet him in the lobby of the Hyatt at 8 a.m., ready to run. Then there's the race expo, which will expand into part of the main floor of the Convention Center for the first time. On Sunday, the marathon and half-marathon take place starting at 7. A new feature is the 6:45 a.m. debut of a 5-kilometer race.

On Friday, the News will have a preview of the race including an interview with the new race director. Sunday marks the tradition revealing of the latest class of the Western New York Running Hall of Fame. I talked to one of the inductees for the story, and learned a great deal about that person along the way. I think you'll enjoy it. Then in Monday's newspaper, I'll have a wrap-up of the weekend.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits notebook: A reflection

A fairly quick thought as we head into the finals of the National Lacrosse League playoffs:

The final two rounds of the postseason feature a "best-of-two" format, which has been a little tough to explain to outsiders. Both teams get a home game, and if it's tied after those two games, a 10-minute mini-game is played to decide who advances or who wins the championship. As it approached, no one in the sport seemed to find it satisfactory, although the idea of having a home playoff game went over pretty well.

Sure enough, both division finals went to the mini-game. You know by now how Calgary defeated Edmonton, and Rochester beat Buffalo. Barely.

Now, is this a fair system? Probably not. Two teams are more or less beat after 60 minutes of play, and to start over is a little odd. One bounce can be a little too important in determining the outcome.

I would think a better system would be for the first two rounds to be a best-of-one, with the finals set for best-of-three. It would still fill up five weeks, but would add more fairness. Commissioner George Daniel said on Saturday night that the league would see how the system worked, and determine whether to continue with the "best-of-twos" or tinker a bit.

But here's the one catch in all of this.

Saturday's game in Rochester was at the least one of the most dramatic sporting events I have ever attended. 

The tension in the building during that mini-game was amazing. It started when the Bandits picked up a penalty in the early going, a call that still had some players mumbling well after the game was over even though Buffalo killed it off. When the Bandits took the early lead and were holding on to it, the tension merely went up. And when Rochester scored with a little more than two minutes left in regulation, the game was almost painful to watch until Rochester won about two minutes gone in overtime. And I didn't even have a rooting interest in the teams. 

The obvious comparison would be to a Game Seven of the Stanley Cup playoffs. I saw the 1997 game between the Sabres and Senators, which I believe in Buffalo's only Game Seven win in history. That was very dramatic too.

The difference is that there is more scoring in indoor lacrosse than there is in hockey. When one team carried the ball over the center line last night, there was a distinct possibility that the attacking team could score. So there was a great deal of relief when it didn't, and the other team and its fans started to worry when the ball came back the other way. In hockey, an offensive rush always has a chance of scoring, but the odds are against it.  

Obviously all sports have their dramatic moments, particulary when everything is on the line. But I was somewhat unprepared for how this particular game in Rochester played out.

Now the league will have a decision to make. Do the stunning theatrics make up for the lack of fairness in the format? That will be a fascinating decision to follow.

-- Budd Bailey

Live from Rochester: Bandits vs. Knighthawks

7:06 p.m. - This ought to be a fun night.

The Buffalo Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks are about 30 minutes from competing in the NLL East final. The Bandits won the first game last week back in Buffalo and thus has an advantage. However, Rochester has the home field for tonight, and that could be important. If Rochester wins the 60-minute game here this evening, the teams will take a break for a couple of minutes and then play a 10-minute game. The winner of that goes on to play Calgary for the title in the next two weeks.

We're all trying to figure out the ins and outs of the mini-game concept. What did we learn last night? Calgary dominated the second half but fell short in the opener. The Roughnecks just kept playing that way in the 10-minute game and wound up winners, 2-1.  I'm still surprised that Edmonton was unable to get good shots from close range, but the Roughnecks had something to do with it.

That has one immediate effect on tonight's game. If Rochester advances, it will have the home field advantage for Games Two and Two-Point-Sixteen (the mini-game). Edmonton had the best record in the regular season. The Bandits had the fourth-best record of the four teams, so they were set to be home first no natter what happened.

By the way, Rochester is trying to become the first team in league history to win three straight titles. The Bandits won two in a row in 1992-93, but have only won two others since then.

7:24 p.m. - One issue that might come up - the Bandits do have some experience up front. Will the Knighthawks try to be a bit more, um, energetic in the game to tire Buffalo out? Would it make a difference in the mini-game? We'll see.

Meanwhile, there has been lots of chatter about John Tavares possibly playing his last game on a given night. There has been nothing official about it, but he's at least pondering it. That could give an emotional boost to the Bandits.

Aaron Wilson, Mitch Jones and Glen Bryan are out for the Bandits. Jamie Batson and Craig Point will set for the Knighthawks. The game is on youtube.com. Just don't forget about your friends back here.

7:29 p.m. - NLL Commissioner George Daniel just stopped by to say hello. My first question - how do you get from Edmonton to Rochester quickly? He said he flew to Hamilton and was driven here. Daniel mentioned what a roller-coaster last night was for the Edmonton fans - win the regulation game, even the series, and then lose the mini-game.

This could be a noisy night. Bandit Nation certainly has made the trip down the Thruway. I wouldn't say it is 50-50 in terms of fans, but Buffalo may produce more decibels per person. (There's a phrase I've never used before.)

7:47 p.m. - Bandits jump out to a 2-1 lead on goals by Dhane Smith and Ryan Benesch. Both teams have had some 30-second violations, as the intensity level seems to have picked up a notch.

7:56 p.m. - Dhane Smith sees his shot dribble across the line to double the Buffalo lead to 3-1. This is one noisy building.

8:06 p.m. - That might be the most intense quarter I've ever seen. The 4-4 score is exactly right. Rochester scored three straight goals to take the lead, and Jamie Rooney answered with 23 seconds left.

8:18 p.m. - Can't let Cody Jamieson get open shots. He converted on two of them, and the Knighthawks have taken a 6-4 lead. Buffalo has a power play right now; it would be a good idea to score on it to change the momentum a bit.

8;25 p.m. - Rochester runs the lead up to 9-4 with five straight goals. Johnny Powless has two of them. Funny how things can turn so quickly. 

8;30 p.m. - No change in the score with 4:32 left in the half.  

8:37 p.m. - Knighthawks take 10-5 lead into locker room at halftime. Those 6-1 periods will kill you.

8:55 p.m. - Back to work.

9:03 p.m. - Knighthawks build lead to 11-5 on Scott Campbell goal. The mini-game is lurking in the foreground now.

9:11 p.m. - John Tavares is on the scoreboard, coming off the bench as a trailer and scoring. That cut the lead to 11-6. Rory Smith is seen frequently smacking the back of Cody Jamieson with his stick. How do these guys get out of bed the next morning?

9:17 p.m. - Knighthawks finish three quarters with the 11-6 lead, and the Rochester fans appreciate it.

9:28 p.m. - Rochester is up  12-6 with 8:55 left.

9:34 p.m. - Knighthawks now have a 13-8 lead with 5:17 left.

9:42 p.m. - And that's the way it ends. A short break, and on to the mini-game.

9:50 P.M. - No score with 5:10 left in mini-game.

9:54 p.m. - Joe Resetarits' goal gives Bandits 1-0 lead. 2:48 left. Terrific drama.

9:58 p.m. - McCready's goal ties it. Bandits ball with 35 seconds to go. What more could you want?

10:01 p.m. - How about sudden-death overtime?

10":06 p.m. - Vitarelli wins it at 1:56 for Rochester. Not much to choose from here, but the Knighthawks came through.

-- Budd Bailey

 

Post Time: Stopchargingmaria swipes foes to give Pletcher another Black-Eyed Susan

By Gene Kershner

BALTIMORE, Md. -- Stopchargingmaria ($9.60), a 3-year-old daughter of Tale of the Cat, gave trainer Todd Pletcher his fourth career victory in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico Race Course on Friday afternoon. After heavy rains had pelted Pimlico over the past 24 hours, the track was rated as good as the filly won her second career Grade 2 race for owner Repole Stable.

With Javier Castellano in the irons, the filly who was coming in third off the layoff, was much the best taking care of a field of 11 fillies in the Preakness eve signature race. Pletcher who last won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in 2012 with In Lingerie, added another big stake victory to his impressive resume.

He won the 2007 (Panty Raid) and 2005 (Spun Sugur) editions of the race and was proud of the way his filly responded against a formidable field. It was a terrific performance. We actually got shuffled back a little bit going to the first turn. We were hoping to be a little closer. Javier was able to move
her to the outside and get a good position, and she really picked it up. Once she got to the outside on the far turn, she started to make her move and she was rolling."

Pletcher couldn't understand why she hadn't returned to her 2-year-old form. "This was certainly her best race. To be honest, I’m not really sure why her first two races this year didn’t go as well as last year. It took her a little while after the Fantasy (April 5 at Oaklawn) to get back. After the Fantasy we took her up to Saratoga and the cool weather seemed to invigorate her. Today she acted like she was back to her old self,” said Pletcher.

Castellano was confident when getting into the saddle that his filly could handle the off track. "I had ridden her before at Saratoga on an off track, and she had no problems with it today at all. At the top of the stretch, I was pretty confident," said Castellano.

Stopchargingmaria handled the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:51.79 on the track rated good Vero Amore finished second by a neck and Fortune Pearl completed the trifecta. This was her third graded stakes victory in eight career races.

The good news is the track has been upgraded to fast for the upcoming PImlico Special, which means barring any overnight rain, the track should be fast for tomorrow's Preakness.

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

Running notebook: Crowded calendar

This usually is the sweet spot of the running calendar, as organizers guess that that the weather will cooperate with the plannning of an outdoor function. Late September is like that as well.

So, as we get ready for Marathon Weekend, here's the schedule - courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* Buffalo Greek Fest 5K, 146 W. Utica St. in Buffalo, 6:30 p.m. on Friday, 796-3381. This is one of the few races around town that I've never done, as my schedule never works for it. But plenty of others take part every year.

* Run with the Rapids 5K, Old Falls St. in Niagara Falls, 9 a.m. on Saturday, 278-2111.

* 5K Fun Run, Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park, 9 a.m. Saturday, 221-0086. This is staged by the Morlock Foundation, and is an untimed race. There's even a discount if you don't want a t-shirt.

* Chris Griswold 5K Race, Como Park in Lancaster, 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, 685-2640. I'm in a slump in this one; I haven't won a garden hose in several years after winning one in two straight years. As you can guess, they do a nice job on door prizes here.

* Unity Run, 5K, 80 Main St. in Lockport, 10 a.m. Saturday, 531-5437.

* SSPP's Charge of the Knights, 5K, 5480 Main St. in Williamsville, 6 p.m. on Saturday, 440-8003. This follows the Moonlight Run course, so be prepared to run uphill and then downhill at the finish.

-- Budd Bailey

 



Macker to Darien Lake official

What had been worst kept secret in Western New York.is now official: the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament will be held July 19-20 at Darien Lake.

Officials from Darien Lake, Gus Macker and Buffalo Police Athletic League Executive Director Modie Cox made the announcement Thursday at City Hall. More to come.

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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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