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Baffert: Antifungal meds given to Medina Spirit had steroid

By STEPHEN WHYNO AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) — Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit was treated with an antifungal ointment containing the steroid betamethasone that may have caused the horse to fail a postrace drug test, trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday.
In a statement issued by his lawyer, Baffert said Medina Spirit was treated for dermatitis with the ointment once a day leading up to the May 1 race and that equine pharmacology experts have told him this could explain the test results. Baffert said the horse tested positive for 21 picograms of the substance, which is typically given to horses therapeutically to help their joints and is a violation even at a trace amount on race day in Kentucky.
Regardless of the reason, Medina Spirit would be disqualified from the Derby and Mandaloun named the winner if a second round of testing shows the presence of betamethasone.
“My investigation is continuing, and we do not know for sure if this ointment was the cause of the test results, or if the test results are even accurate, as they have yet to be confirmed by the split sample,” Baffert said. “I have been told that a finding of a small amount, such as 21 picograms, could be consistent with application of this type of ointment.”
Baffert said at a news conference Sunday at Churchill Downs that he did not know how the substance made its way into the colt’s system.
Lawyer Craig Robertson said the plan is still for Medina Spirit to run in the Preakness on Saturday. The horse and stablemate Concert Tour arrived at Pimlico Race Course on Monday and jogged on the track Tuesday morning, though Baffert does not plan to be in Baltimore for the race and put assistant Jimmy Barnes in charge.
The Preakness post position draw for the anticipated field of 10 is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Preakness officials said they were reviewing the facts before deciding on Medina Spirit’s entry. Robertson told The Associated Press he planned to file a restraining order to prevent the Preakness from barring Medina Spirit if that was the decision that was made.
“Medina Spirit earned his Kentucky Derby win, and my pharmacologists have told me that 21 picograms of betamethasone would have had no effect on the outcome of the race,” Baffert said. “Medina Spirit is a deserved champion, and I will continue to fight for him.”
Medina Spirit’s failed drug test is the fifth medication violation in the past 13 months for Baffert, a two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer and the face of the sport. Winning the Preakness with either Medina Spirit or Concert Tour would give Baffert a record eighth victory in that race, breaking a tie with 19th-century trainer R.W. Walden.
Except for 2020, when the Triple Crown races were run out of order, Baffert is undefeated with the Derby winner in the Preakness.
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Joshua-Fury fight set for Saudi Arabia, says promoter

LONDON (AP) — The all-British fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury for the undisputed world heavyweight title will take place in Saudi Arabia, promoter Eddie Hearn said on Tuesday.
Hearn, who represents Joshua, said the fight is likely to take place on Aug. 7 or Aug. 14. He said Aug. 14 is his preferred date because the Olympic Games in Tokyo will have finished, making the Joshua-Fury fight a bigger “global spectacle.”
“It’s a very bad secret that the fight is happening in Saudi Arabia,” Hearn told British broadcaster Sky Sports. “To be honest with you, I don’t mind giving you that information.”
Fury’s U.S. promoter, Bob Arum, has previously said Saudi Arabia would be the location of the fight.
Hearn has yet to respond to The Associated Press’ request to confirm the details of the fight.
It would be Joshua’s second fight in the kingdom. He reclaimed his WBA, IBF and WBO belts from Andy Ruiz there in December 2019.
Joshua’s only fight since saw him retain his titles by knocking out Kubrat Pulev in December.
Fury hasn’t fought since beating Deontay Wilder in February last year to capture the WBC title.
Fury and Joshua have called each other out over Twitter over the last 24 hours, both urging the other to finalize terms for the fight.
Hearn said the “deal is done” but there was frustration on both sides that the fight had not been officially announced.
“From our perspective and AJ’s perspective, we’re ready to go,” he said. “From Tyson Fury’s perspective, they’ve got a couple of lawyers across it from their point.
“We have to nail this,” Hearn added, “and I’m not going to stop until I nail it, and everyone has just got to move forward collectively. We’re ready to go from our side. We’re not far away from their side and it is inevitable.”
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2-time All-Star right-hander Jordan Zimmermann retires

By STEVE MEGARGEE AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann retired Tuesday in his 13th season in the majors, ending a career in which he threw the first no-hitter in Washington Nationals’ history and earned two All-Star selections.
Zimmermann posted a career record of 95-91 with a 4.07 ERA. He was an NL All-Star in 2013 and ’14 while with the Nationals.
The 34-year-old right-hander from Auburndale, Wisconsin, made two relief appearances for his home-state team this season and had a 0-0 record with a 7.94 ERA.
“I have had the joy of playing the game that I love for the past 15 years,” Zimmermann said in a statement released by the Brewers. “I will forever be thankful to the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers for allowing me to live out this dream. It has been particularly special to be able to end it all playing for my hometown team, the Milwaukee Brewers.
“Thank you to all of my friends, teammates and family members who have been by my side throughout this incredible journey. I will miss the game greatly, but I’m ready for the new phase of my life.”
Zimmermann initially planned to retire a little earlier.
After signing a minor league deal with the Brewers this year and failing to make the team’s initial major league roster, Zimmermann decided at the end of April to retire. He changed his mind a couple of hours later when the Brewers called to promote him to the big leagues after a flurry of injuries hit their pitching staff.
“I think I was retired for about two hours,” Zimmermann said.
In his first outing with the Brewers, Zimmermann gave up five runs over 3 2/3 innings of relief in a 16-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He fared much better in what ended up being his final major league outing, working two shutout innings Friday in a 6-1 loss to the Miami Marlins.
Zimmermann’s greatest success came with Washington, where his rise coincided with the Nationals’ emergence from perennial last-place team to regular playoff participant.
The Nationals were producing their second straight season of 100-plus losses when Zimmermann broke into the majors in 2009. He was a key part of Washington’s rotation when the Nationals won NL East titles in 2012 and 2014.
He went 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA and finished seventh in the NL Cy Young Award voting in 2013. He finished fifth in the Cy Young Award balloting the following season after going 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA. He threw a no-hitter in a 1-0 victory over the Marlins on Sept. 28, 2014, the last day of the regular season — a gem that was preserved by a diving catch by outfielder Steven Souza Jr. for the final out.
Zimmermann signed a five-year, $110 million contract with the Detroit Tigers after the 2015 season but couldn’t come close to matching the success he produced in Washington.
After going 70-50 with a 3.32 ERA in seven years with the Nationals, Zimmermann was 25-41 with a 5.63 ERA in five years with Detroit. He went 1-13 with a 6.94 ERA in 2019 and pitched in only three games in 2020 due to a forearm injury.
Finishing his career in Milwaukee this season enabled the 2007 second-round draft pick from Division III school Wisconsin-Stevens Point to become the 11th Wisconsin native to play for the Brewers.
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Dombrowski wins his 1st stage, De Marchi takes Giro lead

SESTOLA, Italy (AP) — American cyclist Joseph Dombrowski held off the rest of the breakaway pack to win the fourth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday for his first victory in a Grand Tour, and Alessandro De Marchi took the leader’s pink jersey.
Dombrowski, who rides for UAE Team Emirates, attacked on the first uphill finish of this year’s race and crossed the line 12 seconds ahead of De Marchi.
It was the 29-year-old Dombrowski’s first pro win outside of the United States.
“I was feeling good in the last 50K and was just trying not to do too much work and be conservative, because I knew the last climb was really a tough one,” Dombrowski said. “I was able to get a gap, and it wasn’t enough for the pink jersey but I think the stage win is a nice way to finish the day.”
Filippo Fiorelli was third, 27 seconds behind Dombrowski at the end of a wet and windy 187-kilometer (116-mile) ride through the Apennines from Piacenza to Sestola.
De Marchi took over the lead from Filippo Ganna, who had led the the Giro since winning the time trial that opened the race on Saturday. The 34-year-old De Marchi has a 22-second advantage over Dombrowski and 42 seconds over third-place Louis Vervaeke.
“I started thinking about taking the Maglia Rosa (pink jersey) two days ago but I didn’t tell anybody,” De Marchi said. “Today it was about finding the right move. I knew it would be tricky at the start. A bit of luck helped and here we are.
“I’m lost for words. The Maglia Rosa is the childhood dream of every cyclist, especially for an Italian.”
João Almeida was one of the favorites to win the Giro after leading the race for 15 days last year but his chances are all but over after losing more than four minutes on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s fifth stage is a flat and straight 177-kilometer (110-mile) route from Modena to Cattolica on the Adriatic coast.
The Giro finishes on May 30 in Milan with an individual time trial.
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Analysis: Thankfully, hectic final days await in the NBA

By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer
This didn’t happen last year.
There was no frantic final few days of the NBA regular season, replete with all the jostling for playoff positioning as well a scoring race that might go down to the wire. And there’s never been the added layer of eight teams going to a play-in tournament, which, given its popularity, can already be considered a success before it even starts.
A year ago, there only was something called seeding games that a few teams chose to sleepwalk through, in a bubble, without fans, with eight teams already home for the summer — or spring, summer and fall, as it turned out.
This year, things are much closer to normalcy.
Welcome back, chaos. Welcome back, drama. You were missed.
Here’s a short list of just some of the things that the final six days of the regular season will decide, in no particular order: the No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5 playoff matchups in both the Eastern and Western Conferences; the four opening matchups for the play-in tournament that is now just a week away; the scoring race between Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Washington’s Bradley Beal; and home-court advantage throughout the entirety of the NBA playoffs.
Oh, and all that is happening in the same week that NBA legends Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan finally go into the Basketball Hall of Fame, along with two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich and five others — Kim Mulkey, Tamika Catchings, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Patrick Baumann.
Much is happening, indeed. A compressed NBA season that seemed in jeopardy so many times this winter because of virus-related issues is on the cusp of being completed, in full, 72 games for all 30 teams.
It’s pretty much a lock that Philadelphia will be the No. 1 seed in the East playoffs, and Utah has the inside track on the No. 1 seed for the West playoffs as well as the top overall spot going into the postseason. And realistically, there are 11 teams in each conference vying for 10 spots in either the postseason or the play-in round, so it’s not like there’s going to be a surprise team that gets onto the brackets that will be set when the curtain comes down on the NBA’s 75th regular season on Sunday.
But there is still much to decide. A look at some of what’s left:
THE PLAY-IN
The reason this is already a success is because it’s one of the few things that is dominating conversations within the league right now, with the exception of Russell Westbrook’s run to triple-double history and if the Los Angeles Lakers will have enough time to get themselves together for a title defense.
Imagine this: LeBron James and the Lakers vs. Stephen Curry and Golden State in a play-in game.
Yes, ratings will be just fine if that happens.
Or how about another possible play-in game: Gordon Hayward and Charlotte (if he’s back from injury) vs. Kemba Walker and Boston. Probably safe to say such a matchup might mean something to those guys if they face their former clubs with so much at stake.
HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE
Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Milwaukee will all be home for Game 1 of Round 1 of the playoffs in the East, and Utah, Phoenix and the Los Angeles Clippers are assured of doing so in the West. Denver would need to absolutely collapse in the final week to not grab the last home-court spot over Dallas out West for Round 1.
The last East home-court race may get very interesting.
New York likely has the best chance, though Atlanta held off Washington on Monday to close within a half-game of the Knicks. If they finish tied, the Knicks own that tiebreaker by sweeping the Hawks. The Knicks might start the playoffs with a home game for just the second time in the last 20 seasons.
THE SCORING TITLE
Washington’s Bradley Beal won’t play again until late this week, at minimum, because of a hamstring injury so Stephen Curry’s target score for the scoring crown might be set.
Beal is averaging 31.41 points per game. Curry is the leader, averaging 31.93 through Monday. And don’t think this doesn’t matter to those guys — Curry needed 22 points on Saturday night to keep the scoring lead after learning that Beal had just scored 50; he went out and got 49.
The potential is there for the closest scoring race in years. If the final difference in average is one point or less, that will mark just the second such instance in the last eight seasons — Russell Westbrook edged James Harden by 0.7 points for the crown in 2014-15.
It wasn’t so long ago that a close scoring race was common: Carmelo Anthony beat Kevin Durant by 0.6 points in 2012-13, Durant beat Kobe Bryant by 0.1 in 2011-12, Durant beat LeBron James by 0.98 points in 2010-11 and 0.4 points the preceding year.
The other stat per-game champions are pretty much clinched: Atlanta’s Clint Capela will likely win the rebound title, Westbrook will claim the assists crown, Miami’s Jimmy Butler will win the steals title and Utah’s Rudy Gobert will finish atop the blocks category in part because Indiana’s Myles Turner will not play in the minimum number of games needed to qualify.
This year, the race between Beal and Curry might go down to the wire.
Fitting, in a season where so many other races might do the same.
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Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org
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Number of Americans fully vaccinated tops 100 million

DALLAS (AP) — Disneyland reopened on Friday and cruise lines welcomed the news that they could be sailing again in the U.S. by midsummer, as the number of Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 reached another milestone: 100 million.
Visitors cheered and screamed with delight as the Southern California theme park swung open its gates for the first time in 13 months in a powerful symbol of the U.S. rebound, even though the self-proclaimed Happiest Place on Earth is allowing only in-state guests for now and operating at just 25% capacity.
The reopening and similar steps elsewhere around the country reflect increasing optimism as COVID-19 deaths tumble and the ranks of the vaccinated grow — a stark contrast to the worsening disaster in India and Brazil and the scant availability of vaccines in many poor parts of the world.
In fact, the U.S. announced Friday it will restrict travel from India starting Tuesday, citing the devastating rise in COVID-19 cases in the country and the emergence of potentially dangerous variants of the coronavirus.
While the overall number of lives lost to COVID-19 in the U.S. has eclipsed 575,000, deaths have plummeted to an average of about 670 per day from a peak of around 3,400 in mid-January.
Thirty-nine percent of the nation’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 55% of adults have received at least one dose, up from 30% a month ago.
However, about 8% of those who have gotten one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine have not returned for their second shot, officials said. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said it is important to complete the course to gain maximum protection against the virus.
“Make sure you get that second dose,” he said at a White House briefing.
Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore health commissioner and a visiting professor of health policy at George Washington University, said fully vaccinating about 40% of American adults is a great achievement but not enough.
“The hardest part is ahead of us,” she said. “I’m very concerned that we are not going to come anywhere close to reaching herd immunity in 2021.”
Wen noted that Fauci has estimated 70% to 85% of the U.S. population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
The immunization drive has slowed in recent weeks, even as shots have been thrown open to all adults. Wen said better weather and falling case counts will make it harder to reach people who have not been vaccinated yet.
“Those people who are on the fence about getting a vaccine may have less reason to get one now because they don’t see coronavirus as an existential crisis anymore,” she said.
CDC officials also reported Friday that it was anxiety — not a problem with the shots — that caused fainting, dizziness and other reactions reported in 64 people at vaccine clinics in five states in early April. None got seriously ill.
Cruise lines, meanwhile, cheered the news that the CDC is committed to resuming sailing in the U.S. by midsummer and is adjusting some of the rules to speed the process.
The CDC said in a letter to the industry this week that it will let ships cruise without going through practice trips first if 98% of the crew and 95% of the passengers are fully vaccinated.
“The voices of community leaders and the wider cruise community are being heard — and we are very grateful for that,” said Laziza Lambert, spokeswoman for the Cruise Lines International Association.
U.S. cruises have been shut down by the pandemic since March 2020.
In other travel news, the Transportation Security Administration extended a requirement that passengers on planes, trains and buses wear masks. The rule was set to expire May 11 but will now run through Sept. 13. Airlines and their unions had pushed for an extension, saying masks help keep passengers and workers safe.
In Michigan, which in recent weeks became the worst hot spot in the U.S., the numbers are finally showing improvement, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a plan to tie the lifting of restrictions to the state’s vaccination rate.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday he expects to see preventive measures lifted and the city “fully reopen” by July 1. “We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters, full strength,” he said on MSNBC.
But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has maintained throughout the crisis that such decisions are his alone, and he said Thursday he would like to end restrictions even sooner.
“I don’t want to wait that long. I think if we do what we have to do, we can be reopened earlier,” he said.
Cuomo said on Friday that New York City can increase indoor dining to 75% of capacity starting May 7.

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Family affair: Surtain, Samuel could go early in NFL draft

By The Associated Press undefined
Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr. and Jaycee Horn of South Carolina are three of the top cornerbacks in this year’s NFL draft.
If their names sound familiar, well, they should.
Surtain is the son of a standout cornerback with the same name who spent 11 seasons in the NFL, seven with the Dolphins and four with the Chiefs. A 2002 All-Pro who also made three Pro Bowls, Surtain was a star on special teams, too. The elder Surtain was selected in the second round (44th overall) in 1998.
Surtain II was a 2020 All-American.
Samuel’s dad, also with the same name, played 11 pro seasons, too. A fourth-round pick out of UCF, he won two Super Bowls with New England, where he spent his first five NFL seasons before going to Philadelphia for four years and Atlanta for two. Samuel twice led the league in interceptions (2006 with the Patriots, 2009 with the Eagles) and finished his career with 51 picks and six touchdowns.
Horn doesn’t go by the same first name as his father, Joe. But his father played 12 NFL seasons and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection as a wide receiver with Kansas, New Orleans and Atlanta.
Other draft eligibles this week whose fathers played in the NFL include Ohio State linebacker Tuf Borland, whose dad, Kyle, played that position for one season with the Rams; Georgia Tech LB David Curry (dad Buddy spent eight seasons in the league and was the 1980 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year for the Falcons); and Stanford center Drew Dalman (father Chris had a seven-year NFL career as an offensive lineman and won a Super Bowl with the 49ers).
And Ohio State offensive lineman Wyatt Davis is the grandson of Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Willie Davis.
HEISMAN HOPES
The Heisman Trophy rarely is a prognosticator of pro football success — consider such winners for the defensive players need not apply award as Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow, Troy Smith and Eric Crouch.
When someone other than a quarterback wins it, particularly a wide receiver, the trend leans the other way, toward stardom.
Alabama’s DeVonta Smith took the 2020 Heisman. The previous three wideouts to enter the NFL with that hardware and as first-round picks were Desmond Howard (1991), Tim Brown (1987) and Johnny Rodgers (1972). Brown is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Howard was the 1997 Super Bowl MVP.
Smith and college teammate Jaylen Waddle are projected to be chosen Thursday night, making them the sixth pair of wide receivers from the same school drafted in the first round of the same draft since 1967. Alabama would become the first college program to have it occur in successive drafts. Henry Ruggs went 12th overall to Las Vegas, and Jerry Jeudy 15th overall to Denver last year.
In 2007, LSU’s Dwayne Bowe (23) and Craig Davis (30) were taken in the opening round, and so were Ohio State’s Tedd Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez (32). In 2001, Miami, Fla. WRs Santana Moss (16) and Reggie Wayne (30) got called early. And in 1997, it was Florida’s Ike Hilliard (7) and Reidel Anthony (16).
TEAMMATE TWOSOMES
It’s quite possible that college teammates will be chosen consecutively in the opening round this year; it happens more often than people think. So if Alabama receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle go one after the other, don’t be surprised. Or maybe it will be Miami, Fla., edge rushers Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau. Or Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw and cornerback Caleb Farley.
Since 2000, guys from the same school have been selected consecutively eight times. In 2000, Penn State had the top two players, DE Courtney Brown and linebacker LaVar Arrington. Two years later, Texas tackle Mike Williams went fourth and defensive back Quentin Jammer fifth.
Two years after that, Miami, Fla., saw safety Sean Taylor selected fifth and tight end Kellen Winslow sixth.
In 2010, Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy was the third pick, and OT Trent Williams went next. Three years after that, Alabama DB Dee Milliner and guard Chance Warmack were taken ninth and 10th overall.
In 2014, Texas A&M got the double with OT Jake Matthews (6) and WR Mike Evans (7). Two years later, it was Ohio State with DE Joey Bosa (3) and RB Zeke Elliott (4). Last year, once more it was the Buckeyes with DE Chase Young (2) and CB Jeff Okudah (3).
DRAFT DAY BABY
Browns general manger Andrew Berry was on the clock way before anyone else in this year’s NFL draft.
Berry and his wife, Brittan, welcomed their third child on Thursday morning, hours before the draft began in Cleveland.
Eden Ruth Berry is the new rookie in the Berry family.
The Browns have the No. 26 overall pick, Berry’s second draft since returning to Cleveland after spending a season in Philadelphia. The team is expected to add more defensive players after Berry focused on that side of the ball in free agency.
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Kentucky Derby is family affair for Asmussens and O’Neills

By BETH HARRIS AP Racing Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Steve Asmussen grew up in a barn in dusty Laredo, Texas. He and older brother Cash were the help in their parents’ Ma-and-Pa stable. Nearly 4,000 miles away, Patrick O’Neill watched from Hawaii as his Uncle Doug made his way up the training ranks.
The families’ worlds collide in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Asmussen, a Hall of Famer on the verge of becoming the sport’s winningest trainer, saddles Super Stock, co-owned by his 79-year-old father Keith. Doug O’Neill, a two-time Derby winner, brings Hot Rod Charlie, co-owned by Patrick and spotted at auction by his brother Dennis.
“We never, ever imagined we’d be able to compete at this level coming from Laredo, Texas,” said Marilyn Asmussen, Steve’s 79-year-old mother who began training horses in 1976 when few women had that job or were respected for it. Her husband was a jockey and still breaks yearlings.
Patrick O’Neill, an enthusiastic yet hardened owner at 28, says, “We’re treating this like it is, which is a once-in-a-billion opportunity.”
Asmussen is trying to snap an 0-for-21 skid in the Derby. His best finishes were a pair of seconds in 2011 with Nehro and in 2017 with Lookin At Lee.
“I’m somebody who learns far more from a loss than a win,” he said.
Having his parents and their longtime partner, Nashville music manager Erv Woolsey, along for the ride has turned the usually stern Asmussen downright mushy. His son, Keith, rode Super Stock in his first three races, including a stakes victory in Texas.
“I was scared for him,” said Steve, who gave up as a jockey after growing too tall and heavy.
“I called my grandfather and told him what I wanted for Christmas, to ride him in a race,” the younger Keith said. “I’d like to think I played some part in Pop and Erv keeping him.”
Instead of selling Super Stock, the bay colt stayed in the family and gave Keith and Marilyn Asmussen their first Grade 1 victory as owners in the Arkansas Derby, punching his ticket to Louisville. The family celebrated together for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began a year ago.
“Amazing how the actions of a horse can make you feel about yourself,” Steve said on a recent Breeders’ Cup podcast. “What a true blessing that is.”
While Steve eventually found success training, brother Cash was a star rider in France, winning some of Europe’s biggest races in the 1980s and ’90s.
“The success that I’ve had and the success that Cash had before me were made possible because of the horsemanship and professionalism of my parents,” Steve said. “That kind of support, that kind of love is what encourages people to dream and to chase it.”
Patrick O’Neill loved racing from a young age. He’s named for his late grandfather, who he says “definitely had a little bit of a gambling problem.” The elder Patrick brought his four sons — Dave, Danny, Dennis and Doug — to the racetrack as kids in Detroit.
“My dad (Dave) saw what happened with gambling and was turned off,” Patrick said. “Dennis and Doug saw all the excitement and the characters.”
Dave and Danny died of melanoma. Dennis and Doug eventually moved to California, with Doug becoming a trainer and Dennis a bloodstock agent. Patrick grew up in Hawaii, but kept in touch with his uncles and attended the Derby when Doug won in 2012 with I’ll Have Another and in 2016 with Nyquist.
Patrick followed racing through his college days at Brown University, where he played football. He bugged his bemused roommates and teammates Eric Armagost, Dan Giovacchini, Reiley Higgins and Alex Quoyeser to add TVG racing channel to their cable package for an extra $6 a month. “That definitely ate into our beer funds,” he said.
He invited his buddies to Del Mar one summer. The horses and ambiance at the seaside track north of San Diego quickly converted them. Someone suggested buying a horse together.
O’Neill said no and tried to tamp down their chatter about entering the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup. He counseled they’d be lucky to win a race at Del Mar.
“I’ve seen what happens in the sport and I didn’t want to lose friends,” he said, “but I quickly changed my mind. Life is about people, memories and experiences.”
The first horse they owned was “godawful,” O’Neill recalled. The next one finished last at Del Mar and was claimed for $100,000, giving them the money that led to the purchase of Hot Rod Charlie.
O’Neill’s group owns 25% of the colt they nicknamed “Chuck.” Their stable Boat Racing LLC (“kind of cheeky” he says) is named after a favorite college drinking game that involves racing to finish drinks in sequence.
They supply the youthful energy to complement more experienced owners Bill Strauss (25%) and Greg Helm of Roadrunner Racing (50%). O’Neill and his friends work corporate jobs on the West Coast.
Dennis O’Neill picked out Hot Rod Charlie for $110,000 at auction. The dark bay colt lost his first three races at Del Mar before winning at Santa Anita.
“Chuck” was a 95-1 shot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall at Keeneland. He finished second to Essential Quality, beaten three-quarters of a length by the early favorite for Saturday’s Derby.
“He was such a prepubescent teen going into the Breeders’ Cup,” O’Neill said. “He’s in his pre-college years and starting to look like an adult.”
And racing like one, too.
“Chuck” won the Louisiana Derby by two lengths to solidify his spot in the Kentucky Derby. He’s finished out of the money just twice in seven career starts and has earnings of over $1 million.
“Chuck” will be cheered on in person by 160 friends and family on Saturday.
“To have this be a family affair and have all our different networks brought in, it would be magical,” O’Neill said of a possible victory. “It would be a movie-like script.”
And if the Asmussens are in the winner’s circle instead?
“When good people have success,” O’Neill said, “it’s fine when you lose.”
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LEADING OFF: Harper healing after fastball to face

By The Associated Press undefined
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
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HEADS UP
Phillies star Bryce Harper says he’s feeling fine after being hit in the face by a 96.9 mph fastball Wednesday. Harper was drilled in the left cheek by Cardinals left-hander Génesis Cabrera’s first pitch in the sixth inning of a 5-3 victory. The All-Star slugger picked himself up and walked off the field, blood dripping from a cut on the side of his nose.
“Everything feels good,” Harper said in a video he posted to Instagram. He said he got a CT scan and other testing and “Everything came back good.”
He appeared to have only minor swelling and bruising in the video he sent to social media.
Philadelphia is slated to wrap up a four-game series in St. Louis.
NATIONAL POWERS
The Dodgers and Brewers begin a four-game set between NL division leaders in Milwaukee. NL West-leading Los Angeles swept the Brewers in a first-round postseason series last year en route to a World Series title and also knocked out Milwaukee in the 2018 NL Championship Series. Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer (3-0, 2.53) will start the opener for the Dodgers against Eric Lauer, making his season debut for the NL Central leaders.
WELCOME BACK
Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan is set for his first regular season appearance after making his big league debut during last year’s postseason. Among the top prospects in Tampa Bay’s loaded farm system, McClanahan will start against Oakland a day after his 24th birthday. He allowed four earned runs in 4 1/3 relief innings in the 2020 playoffs for the AL champions. Prior to that, he’d made just four starts above Class A.
TAKE TWO
The Tigers and White Sox are slated for a straight doubleheader after their game Wednesday night was postponed by rain. Detroit right-hander Casey Mize and Chicago left-hander Carlos Rodón were pushed back to pitch in the first game Thursday while left-hander Matthew Boyd and right-hander Dylan Cease will start in the second game.
FRESH START
Martín Pérez tries to keep up an unexpected trend — dominant starting pitching from the Red Sox. Garrett Richards pitched seven one-run innings against the Mets on Tuesday, and Nick Pivetta followed with five scoreless to start against New York on Wednesday. Boston’s starting pitchers have a 4.09 ERA this season, way down from their 5.34 mark in 2020, which was third worst in the AL.
Pérez (0-1, 5.71) is scheduled to face the Rangers — his old club — in the opener of a four-game series. Texas right-hander Kyle Gibson (2-0, 2.30) has allowed one earned run or fewer in his past four starts.
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National Sports

Vázquez helps Red Sox beat deGrom, slumping Mets 1-0

By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Jacob deGrom doesn’t give up much on the mound. Fortunately for his opponents, sometimes it doesn’t take a whole lot to beat him, either.
Christian Vázquez hit an early RBI double, producing the only run required for the Boston Red Sox to slip past deGrom and the punchless New York Mets 1-0 on Wednesday night.
Nick Pivetta (3-0) and three relievers combined on a two-hitter as the surprising AL East leaders swept a two-game interleague series at Citi Field, outscoring the Mets 3-1 while improving to 8-1 on the road.
“That was fun. The two games were fun,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “That’s what baseball is all about. Good pitching. Good defense.”
Xander Bogaerts doubled off the left-center fence to open the second inning and, one out later, Vázquez drove a shoulder-high 0-2 heater clocked at 100 mph the other way into the right-center gap.
“I was looking fastball. I was looking up in the zone,” Vázquez said. “I hit it good.”
After that, deGrom (2-2) held Boston off the scoreboard — but the Mets couldn’t muster anything at the plate in their latest offensive flop with the two-time Cy Young Award winner on the mound. Lack of support has been a troubling theme throughout his stellar career, leaving him with 72 wins in eight seasons despite the lowest ERA in franchise history.
He’s allowed two earned runs all year — and lost two games.
“I try not to think too much about it,” deGrom said. “I’m more disappointed that I wasn’t able to make pitches there in the second inning. I was trying to battle through but just left some balls over the middle of the plate that got hit. So, that comes down to me controlling what I can control and I didn’t do a good job of that in that second inning.”
The right-hander struck out nine and walked one in six innings of three-hit ball. He needed 10 pitches in the third to strike out Pivetta, who fouled off six in a feisty at-bat.
“I think that’s a hit for us,” Vázquez said. “It was fun to see that.”
DeGrom was coming off a career-high 15 strikeouts without a walk in a two-hit shutout of Washington last Friday when he retired his final 19 batters.
He fanned at least 14 in each of his past three starts, joining Pedro Martinez and Gerrit Cole as the only pitchers to accomplish that feat.
“DeGrom is an incredible pitcher. It’s always a lot of fun facing guys like him,” Pivetta said. “You’ve got to keep the ballgame close. You’ve got to compete with him. You’ve got to stay in the same rhythm as him the whole entire game.”
DeGrom’s 0.51 ERA is the best for a Mets pitcher through five starts, and his 59 strikeouts match Nolan Ryan for the most in major league history over the first five outings of a season.
Ryan racked up his Ks in 1978 with the Angels.
“Kind of displeased with my mechanics,” said deGrom, who threw 93 pitches. “Everything seemed to be flat. Just wasn’t able to make pitches when I needed to.”
Pivetta whiffed seven in five innings, allowing one hit and three walks. Garrett Whitlock had four strikeouts in two innings of one-hit ball, and Adam Ottavino worked a hitless eighth as restless Mets fans in a sold-out crowd of 8,051 booed the team’s struggling hitters.
“Really there’s no excuse,” catcher James McCann said. “We have to find a way, especially in a game like tonight. … You’ve got to find a way to win those games.”
Matt Barnes struck out all three batters in the ninth for his sixth save, sealing Boston’s first shutout of the season.
Of the 64 hitters in the game, 30 struck out — 15 for each team. The Red Sox managed only four hits and still beat deGrom.
“For him to only go six, quote-unquote, right, it was a moral victory for our guys,” Cora said. “At the end, one run was enough.”
Boston pitching also dominated the series opener in a 2-1 victory Tuesday.
“We’re executing everything,” said Vázquez, the Red Sox backstop. “It’s amazing to watch this.”
TRAINER’S ROOM
Red Sox: OF Alex Verdugo was back in the starting lineup after entering as a defensive replacement Tuesday night. Verdugo had a hamstring cramp Saturday and sat out Sunday. … Christian Arroyo was doing well and available off the bench, Cora said, adding the infielder will probably start one of the games in Texas this weekend. Arroyo was hit by a pitch on his left hand Sunday.
Mets: CF Brandon Nimmo was back in the starting lineup after pinch-hitting Tuesday night. Nimmo received a cortisone injection Monday for an impingement in his right hip.
NEW ADDITION
The Mets claimed catcher Deivy Grullón off waivers from Tampa Bay and optioned him to the alternate training site.
UP NEXT
Red Sox: LHP Martín Pérez (0-1, 5.71 ERA) starts Thursday night against RHP Kyle Gibson (2-0, 2.30) when Boston opens a four-game series at Texas.
Mets: After their second day off this week Thursday, the Mets send RHP Marcus Stroman (3-1, 2.25 ERA) to the mound Friday night in Philadelphia against RHP Chase Anderson (0-3, 6.48).
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