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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

* 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 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.

Post Time: Black-Eyed Susan kicks off Preakness weekend at Pimlico

By Gene Kershner 

The News is ready to kickoff a great weekend at Old Hilltop which will culminate in the Preakness Stakes late Saturday afternoon. On tap Friday afternoon at Pimlico Race Course is the 1 1/8-mile $500,000 Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan. Friday’s card will also include the G3 Pimlico Special and five other non-graded stakes races. 

The 90th running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes features 11 fillies trying to step up within the 3-year-old filly division, which saw Untapable stake her claim as the best filly in the land in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks two weeks ago. Heavy rain is forecast for Friday, clearing by Saturday for the Preakness. 

This year’s race will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network (4 p.m.) in a one-hour telecast as part of NBC’s weekend coverage of the Preakness Stakes. 

Let’s take a look at the field for the Black-Eyed Susan (trainer, jockey, odds in parenthesis): 

1 – Joint Return (Servis, Carmouche, 15-1) – Winner of Calder Oaks non-graded stake against lesser rivals. The daughter of Include has faced graded company only once in her career and was beaten by 12 lenghts. Little dicey in here for her. 

2 – America (Mott, Velazquez, 8-1) – Working well for trainer Bill Mott after a third place finish in the G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. She sports a bullet work in Saratoga on Monday and looks to be fit and ready to run. Has breeding to go long for celebrity chef owner Bobby Flay. Contender. 

3 – Shanon Nicole (Maker, Smith, 6-1) – Mike Smith takes over from Rosie Napravnik aboard this daughter of Majestic Warrior. Past performance doesn't favor her chances in here even with the Hall of Famer aboard.  Passing in favor of others. 

4 – Stopchargingmaria (Pletcher, Castellano, 7-2) – Comes in third off the layoff on the form cycle and has a win at the distance in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at the Big A in her 2-year-old campaign. Pletcher has won the race three times in the last 10 years, but chooses Castellano over Johnny V, who rode her in here last two efforts since the Demoiselle.  On the fence with this one. 

5 – Euphrosyne (Asmussen, Santana Jr., 4-1) – Asmussen who won the Oaks with Untapable last weekend will look for the sweep with his Harlan's Holiday filly. She comes off two efforts at Oaklawn where she was beaten by Oaks filly Sugar Shock in both efforts. She hasn't missed the board in seven career races. Win threat. 

6 – Arethusa (Harty, Napravnik, 8-1) – Trainer Eoin Harty ships in A.P. Indy filly who will be racing on the east coast for the first time. Won a non-graded stake last November for Godolphin, but has been out-classed against top company during 2014. Taking a stand against. 

7 - La Mejor Fiesta (Ward, Espinoza, 20-1) –Makes second career start on dirt for trainer Wesley Ward. Won a non-graded stake at Remington, but Friday afternoon she won't be seeing Remington-caliber fillies next to her. Toss. 

8 – Sloane Square (Pletcher, Rosario, 5-1) – Lightly raced filly draws top rider Joel Rosario over Johnny V. Do you see a pattern here? She stretches out for the first time after a solid workout last weekend at Saratoga. Breeding suggests she could be a sleeper and serious contender.  

9 – Fortune Pearl (Motion, McCarthy, 12-1) –Mineshaft filly faces graded company for the first time for Graham Motion. Local jockey Trevor McCarthy has the mount and local knowledge, could threaten to crash the exotics underneath. 

10– Vero Amore  (Reid, Jr., Pennington, 15-1) – Another Mineshaft filly who would be a big surprise winner if she pulled off the upset. Has decent speed figures, but this would be a serious class test and she struggled at the distance last Out against graded competition. 

11– Image of Anna  (Violette, Jr., Saez, 20-1) – Ready's Image filly ships in from New York after four career races at the Big A, including back-to-back wins in her last two races. Broke her maiden impressively and backed it up with an allowance win. Big class test. 

Post Time Outlook – 1 –Euphrosyne; 2 –America; 3 - Sloane Square; 4 - Stopchargingmaria

Good luck and let’s cash some tickets.

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

Post Time: Chrome set as prohibitive favorite in Preakness

By Gene Kershner 

The post position draw for the 139th running of the Preakness was held this evening at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, which included 10 entries into Saturday's middle jewel of the Triple Crown. The race will be televised nationally on NBC (Ch. 2) on Saturday afternoon during a two-hour telecast starting at 4:30 p.m. ET. Post time for the Preakness is approximately 6:20 p.m. ET. Pre- and post-race programming will be on NBC Sports Network. 

- Heavy morning line favorite and Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome (3-5) drew the No. 3 position. The Maryland Jockey Club's signature race has been won by 70 favorites, none however since 2009 (Rachel Alexandra). 

- Second choice on the morning line is Social Inclusion (5-1), trained by 85-year-old Manny Azpurua, seeking to become the oldest trainer since Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons to win the Preakness. Fitzsimmons won the 1957 Preakness with Bold Ruler, the sire of Secretariat, when he was two months shy of his 83rd birthday. Social Inclusion failed to qualify for the Kentucky Derby when he finished third by a nose in the Wood Memorial, putting him on the outside looking in and having to settle for Baltimore. 

- Bob Baffert, who has won the race five times since 1997, entered Bayern (10-1) and will have Rosie Napranik in the irons. She started her career on the Maryland racing circuit and will look to get Baffert back in the winner's circle for the first time since 2010 (Lookin at Lucky). 

- The Illinois Derby winner Dynamic Impact (12-1) drew the rail for trainer Mark Casse and will have Miguel Mena in the irons. The horse drawing the rail post has only one victory in the past 52 years (Tabasco Cat, 1994). 

- The post that has the most winners since 1909 is Post Position No. 6, which has 15 Preakness winners, was drawn by the connections of Ria Antonia (30-1), the only filly in the field and the longest shot on the board. 

- The Preakness is limited to 14 starters and in 15 of the last 20 years has enjoyed double-digit fields. Three Kentucky Derby horses are in the field as Ride on Curlin (10-1) and General a Rod (15-1) will join Chrome on Saturday afternoon. 

Pablo Del Monte (20-1), who was eligible to draw into the Derby when Hoppertunity scratched earlier during Derby week, passed over the Run for the Roses to run in Baltimore for trainer Wesley Ward, drew post No. 9. 

Here's a look at the posts, jockeys, trainers and morning line odds set by the Maryland Jockey Club:

PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Dynamic Impact Mena Casse 12-1
2 General a Rod Castellano Maker 15-1
3 California Chrome Espinoza Sherman 3-5
4 Ring Weekend Garcia Motion 20-1
5 Bayern Napravnik Baffert 10-1
6 Ria Antonia (f) Borel Amoss 30-1
7 Kid Cruz Pimentel Rice 20-1
8 Social Inclusion Contreras Azpurua 5-1
9 Pablo Del Monte Sanchez Ward 20-1
10 Ride On Curlin Rosario Gowan 10-1


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

Macker on the move; 716ers to host 3-on-3 tournament

There will be a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at City Hall to announce that the Gus Macker, in all likelihood, is moving to Darien Lake this summer.

According to a press release, officials from the Buffalo Police Athletic League, Scott McNeal of Gus Macker Basketball and Darien Lake will be on hand for the presser. Last week, various television stations reported the Macker was moving to Darien Lake although at the time all the parties involved said no contracts had been signed.

With McNeal expected to be in attendance, it could be safe to assume now that the tournament is moving to the country and that somehow PAL will be involved with it even though the tournament is outside the city limits.

However all isn't lost for those in the city who may not be willing to make the trip to Genesee County. The Buffalo 716ers basketball team plans to hold a 3 on 3 basketball tournament June 28-29 at Tapestry Charter School in north Buffalo. The tournament will have adult and youth divisions with the adult division champion earning $1,000 prize, second place $300 and third $100.

Unlike the Macker, though, the 716ers event, called the Street Ball Remix, will take place in the school, not outside. That means the tourney isn't at the mercy of Mother Nature. If it rains, so be it, because there will be a roof over the participants' heads unlike at past Gus Mackers where players some times had to deal with the elements.

More to come

---Miguel Rodriguez

Live from First Niagara Center: Bandits vs. Knighthawks

7:06 p.m. - Don't roll up the carpet yet. There's more lacrosse to be played here.

The Bandits advanced in the first round of the playoffs against Toronto last week. That earned them the chance to play in the East Final against Rochester. The Knighthawks had a bye in the first round. Later tonight, Calgary goes against Edmonton in the West final.

It's best-of-two-and-a-sixth, as I'm fond of saying. Each team has a home game. If both teams have a win at this time next week, they will follow the second game with a 10-minute mini-game. It hasn't been a popular move on the team level (coaches, players, etc.), but people do like the idea of having a home game in the mix.

We will have a small crowd for this one. The Bandits had sold 8,500 tickets as of this morning. It's tough to move tickets on such short notice. It will not be the worst crowd ever. The Bandits drew 6,742 for a Feb. 5, 2000 game.

No word on the lineups yet. The lineup sheet and the media notes had different Buffalo rosters, who we'll have to see who wins that one.

7:28 p.m. - Still no sign of lineups. Meanwhile, you might have seen the documentary (22 min.) on John Tavares done for AT&T. The crew is back this weekend working on a follow-up. Watch for it in about six to eight weeks; I'm sure the Bandits will give it plenty of publicity.

7:30 p.m. - Looks like the same lineup as last week. That would mean Aaron Wilson and Glen Bryan will sit. Joel Matthews and Mitch Jones on practice squad.

7:38 p.m. - Anthems are done. Joe McCready and Mac Allen are the scratches for Rochester. Let's go to work.

7:46 p.m. - Bandits jump out to 2-0 lead, with Mark Steenhuis getting both goals. Can't ask for a much better start from a Buffalo perspective. Bandit fans that did show up actually have been pretty loud.

7:56 p.m. - Rochester has come back with 3 straight goals. Knighthawks have a 3-2 lead with 3:11 left. Jamieson, Dawson and Walters did the scoring.

8:02 p.m. - That's where it ends up after a period. Bandits have been outshot, 15-10.

8:20 p.m. - Bandits fight back to take a 6-4 lead. John Tavares turned back the clock to score two vintage goals in a row. One came on a fast break, the other on the old jump from behind the net stuff shot. Steenhuis has a hat trick.

8:32 p.m. - Halftime - Bandits up, 6-5. Odd first half, with both teams having stretches of blocked shots, missed passes, etc. But there also have been some exciting goals.

8:52 p.m. - Six minutes (exactly) have gone by in the second half, and there's been no change in the scored. Buffalo still up by a 6-5 count. The Bandits have 55 seconds left on a power play. Frankly, not too much has happened in the early going of the half. Lots of bad possessions have taken place.

8:58 p.m. - Dan Dawson got open right in front of the net. The future Hall of Famer cashed in on the opportunity to tie the game at 6. We have 4:52 left in the third quarter.

9:05 p.m. - Cory Vitarelli puts the Knighthawks up again, 7-6. The lead holds up through the end of the third period.

9:14 p.m. - Dhane Smith ties it for Buffalo. 7-7 with 10:28 left. In other words, nothing has been decided.

9:24 p.m. - Buffalo explodes for three straight goals to lead, 10-8 with 4:50 to go.

9:31 p.m. - Bandits up 12-8 with 1:13. Tavares with four goals.

9:36 p.m. - Bandits win, 12-8, a win from NLL final.

--- 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 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.

Find out where to find WBBZ here.

Here are segments from tonight's show:

Running notebook: The DVD version

Here's a bit of bonus material that you won't read in Sunday's running column. I talked with Bart Yasso of Runner's World magazine for the story. I was curious about the merger between his magazine and Running Times, saying that I was glad that the two publications haven't merged. He said both magazines have their own niche.

"Our editor-in-chief, David Willey, has emphasized a combination of story-telling about running and service items," he said. "We want to keep people active and involved. There's nothing crazy that will change everything overnight; you just go out there and see what comes along. There are great stories out there."

I mentioned that runners are thrilled when someone asks them about the activity, because often their close friends don't have much knowledge or interest.

"It's amazing," Yasso said. "Some people are quiet and don't think their story is worth anything. I'll meet them, and find they've been supressing it all this time. ... The best stories come from a friend of a friend. They'll say, 'This person is a great story."

Meanwhile, Running Times is more designed for elite runners.

"Right from the beginning, we've kept the two editorial teams apart," Yasso said. "Those going for their personal best all the time are for Running Times. Runner's World is more about lifestyle. We want to improve your time, not help you run 100 miles."

Read the rest on Sunday. In the meantime, here's the calendar from - celebrating the return of the Friday night race:

* Crouse 5K Challenge, 100 Legion Dr. in Gowanda, 6 p.m. tonight, 860-8782.

* Catalyst Fitness Race for a Cause, 5K, 2745 Seneca St. in West Seneca, 6:30 p.m. tonight, 824-4655.

* Town of Tonawanda 5K, 1 Pool Plaza in Town of Tonawanda, 6:30 p.m. tonight, 876-7424. I did this one a couple of years ago. Those who like a nice flat course should enjoy this one.

* Cummins Run for Literary, 5K, 509 Cherry St. in Jamestown, 9 a.m. Saturday, 484-7135 x236.

* Holland Tulip Festival, 5K, Holland Speedway, 9 a.m. Saturday, 537-2264.

* Nancy Price Memorial 5K, Veterans Park in Youngstown, 10 a.m. Saturday, 531-1216.

* Heritage Centers Foundation 5K, 101 Oak St. in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday, 856-4202 x1228.

* DeSales Catholic School Race for Fitness, 5K, 6914 Chestnut Ridge Road in Lockport, 10 a.m. Saturday, 433-6422.

* Elephant Run, 4 miles, Marcy Casino in Delaware Park in Buffalo, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, 836-7045. This has turned into a good way to start Mother's Day activities. For those who like breakfast food after a race, this is the right place.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Friday racing notebook

By Gene Kershner 

We are at the calm before the storm in the middle week between the Derby and the Preakness, but plenty has been going on after the initial aftermath of the Run for the Roses. 

- The pace scenario for next year's Preakness should be a little quicker than last year's when Oxbow stole the race going the first half in 0:50 and change. With Social Inclusion, Pablo del Monte and Ring Weekend likely in the field, California Chrome will likely not get away with the moderate pace that was set in the Derby.

- Other Preakness probable starters include 7th place Derby finisher Ride On Curlin, Bob Baffert-trained Bayern and Dynamic Impact, trained by Mark Casse. [UPDATE 9:55 a.m. -- Mike Maker confirmed General a Rod will be a Preakness starter]

- No word from Todd Pletcher as to Danza's status. The more I watch the replay, the more I am impressed with the son of Street Boss who encountered all kinds of bumping and was weaving in and around horses in the stretch to finish third. Hoping he goes to make the race more competitive.

- It looks like the Preakness may have a female entrant in Ria Antonia. The defending Breeders' Cup Juveniles Fillies winner is likely to run according to new trainer Tom Amoss who replaced Baffert after this weekend's fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks. It's the third trainer since November for the daughter of Rockport Harbor. She's no Rachel Alexandra and would be only the second filly since 1905 to win the race.

- Pimlico will be offering a special $0.50 Pick-3 that will include the Pimlico Special (Friday - Black-eyed Susan Day)-Dixie (Turf race on Saturday)-Preakness. Kudos for coming up with a fun multi-day bet for three very good races.

- The Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee is reporting that the big $1 million bet that was placed on Candy Boy shortly before post time was made from an Isle of Man off-shore wagering hub. The big bet lowered Candy Boy's odds from 16-1 to 9-1 shortly before post time.

- On Wednesday I was on the Racing Across America show via telephone on Capital-OTB where we reviewed how my 2014 Racing Kreskin predictions have fared so far and for a post-Derby recap.

- The Man O' War Stakes from Belmont Park will be a part of the Fox broadcast on Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. ET.  The $250,000 Ruffian and the Grade 3, $150,000 Westchester will both be part of the hour-and-a-half telecast on Fox Sports 1.

- Palace Malice will get a tune up for the Met Mile, to be held on Belmont day for the first time, in the Westchester on Sunday's telecast.

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

Macker official: Nothing signed yet

According to WGRZ and WKBW television reports, the Gus Macker Tournament will move from the streets of downtown Buffalo to Darien Lake, but a Gus Macker official would not confirm the report.

Macker President Scott McNeil, reached by phone Thursday night, said nothing has been signed by the parties to make the move official. He had no further comment.

While McNeil said nothing has been signed, he didn't deny the reports, which serve as the latest sign that the traditional Macker 3-on-3 tournament date for mid-June in Buffalo is likely no more.

A month ago, PAL Executive Director Modie Cox and McNeil were 80 percent certain the Macker would take place in Buffalo in late June, pending approval of the agreement from the PAL lawyer. No such OK ever came, and while all has been silent on PAL front since, McNeil indicated a couple weeks ago that something had come up and that the sides were working on something.

PAL had been looking for a main sponsor or a way to cut costs of the event that is supposed to act as a fundraiser for PAL activities, since learning ex-Buffalo Bills CB Terrance McGee was pulling out as the event's title sponsor last summer.

---Miguel Rodriguez
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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.