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Twelve Ravens thoughts following Week 10 win at Cincinnati

Posted on 12 November 2019 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens winning their fifth consecutive game in a 49-13 final at Cincinnati, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. After posting a 158.3 passer rating 30 miles from his hometown in Week 1, Lamar Jackson had another perfect day 100 miles from where he won a Heisman Trophy at Louisville. Playing like that in front of so many who watched him on his path to NFL stardom is special.

2. Being traded in the middle of a contract year can be a challenging transition, but Marcus Peters has now returned two interceptions for touchdowns over his first three games as a Raven. A cornerback with a boom-or-bust reputation is putting himself in position for a huge payday.

3. Marquise Brown has caught seven of eight targets for 128 yards and a touchdown since returning from an ankle sprain. The rookie performing like this at less than 100 percent continues to be impressive and encouraging for his future if he can stay healthy.

4. The Ravens haven’t posted a winning road record in the regular season since 2010, but they’re 4-1 in away games this season and 6-2 on the road since Jackson became the starter last year. Road success in the regular season is what allows teams to play at home in January.

5. Brandon Williams has played some of the best football of his career in recent weeks, which included a season-best seven tackles in 59 defensive snaps with Michael Pierce exiting Sunday’s game early. Williams’ Week 4 spat with Earl Thomas feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

6. Nick Boyle had four catches for a career-high 78 yards and has now set a new single-season high in receiving yards nine games into 2019. Mark Andrews headlines, but all three Baltimore tight ends have been superb, combining to catch 71.6 percent of targets for 949 yards and seven touchdowns.

7. In a combined 30 snaps between offense and defense, Patrick Ricard had a big block on Mark Ingram’s touchdown run, recorded a tackle for no gain, logged a strip-sack returned by Tyus Bowser for a touchdown, and had another tackle for a minimal gain. That’s quite a splash.

8. The “Heisman Package” resulted in a 12-yard gain as Jackson pitched to Robert Griffin III on the option. As John Harbaugh said, “Guys like to have fun,” but I’m now expecting Vinny Testaverde, Ricky Williams, and Troy Smith to come back if they’re serious about this Heisman thing.

9. With the return of Jimmy Smith, the arrival of Peters, and the shift of Brandon Carr to safety and Chuck Clark to the box in the dime, Anthony Levine has played only 11 defensive snaps since the bye. Levine is a good player, but it speaks to improved secondary depth.

10. Sam Koch didn’t have to punt until the 1:14 mark of the fourth quarter in Cincinnati. His career low for punts in a season is 60, but the longtime Raven is currently on pace to punt only 37 times in 2019. Things sure have changed here in Baltimore.

11. Jackson did the heavy lifting, but CBS play-by-play man Kevin Harlan’s call of the electric 47-yard touchdown run was a lot of fun. Harlan is one of the more underrated broadcasters in the business. “He is Houdini!” will be remembered by Ravens fans for a long time.

12. I couldn’t have been the only one who thought of Tony Siragusa late in the Ravens’ 2000 playoff win over Tennessee when Jackson was shown wearing sunglasses on the sideline. Siragusa gets bonus points for taking those shades from Brian Billick and that being a more important game, however.

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I fell asleep once on Lamar Jackson and it ain’t happening again – Bleedat!

Posted on 11 November 2019 by Nestor Aparicio

It was quite a show on the banks of the Ohio on Sunday afternoon.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh boldly promised a “revolution” this season and while I’m not 100% sure that Lamar Jackson will soon ride down Pratt Street with the Lombardi Trophy, you can’t help but be impressed by the here and now and the thrill of what this kid is doing if you love Baltimore football.

Let’s put it this way: every defensive coordinator breaking down nine weeks of film this year sees the Che Guevara in what Greg Roman and his band of marauders is coming do to the 11 guys you dare put out there to chase Number Eight and varying triple-threat Heisman packages.

As I waited by the visiting locker room door (one that I have stood at many times in recent years after awful losses in Cincinnati) and watched Lamar from 50 feet away signing autographs for Ravens fans to the “MVP!” chants as he came off the field at Paul Brown Stadium, it started to hit me.

I called that play “an instant classic” and tweeted “send it to Canton” about 15 seconds after it happened. A few minutes after watching this purple coronation coming off the field in Cincy, Harbaugh confessed the obvious: that play is probably gonna change his life from an “under the radar” guy to more of a “what comes next?” set of expectations. I think the Patrick Mahomes “Jedi” play last year at Arrowhead was one of those, and well…he was the MVP of the NFL last year.

In the post game chats with Luke Jones, we literally talked about Michael Jordan.

And yes, I saw Michael Jordan play.

I’ve done this for 35 years. I haven’t ever compared anyone to Jordan – not in any sport.

Never.

And it’s because Lamar doesn’t have a football player to be compared to, really.

OK, maybe his teammate Robert Griffith III or Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham or Steve Young, etc. but not really because football is a different game in 2019. It all runs together and it’s all ancient history compared to what happened at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.

I chatted with Lamar briefly after the game – we have a little fist-bump thing after he wins games and he wins most of the time – and the steadying voices of his teammates you hear surrounding him after the games make you feel like he might not fully grasp the truth of what happens when you do the things he’s doing on the field. He was surrounded more by old Louisville media and was smiling with familiar people around him in what amounts to northern Kentucky. I am assuming this will serve as his “homecoming” game for as long as he cardinals the Ravens offense.

Because I don’t sleep much, I woke up at 4 a.m. in my Covington, Kentucky hotel room and watched varying versions of the NFL Network, ESPN and anywhere else football is shown at such hours and every single segment showed “the Lamararama” that baked the Bengals linebackers and secondary into the Ohio turf. The “Houdini” moment…

The records don’t matter. The victims don’t matter. The results don’t lie.

Lamar Jackson is 13-3 as a starter in the NFL.

And he did something none of us have ever seen before on Sunday. One of the greatest football plays I’ve ever seen.

And isn’t that why we watch sports?

It doesn’t matter that it happened against an 0-9 team albeit for a diminished audience in beating a hapless, winless shell of a franchise in Cincinnati.

It happened.

And you know what?

It can happen again…

I zoned in just on the visual of his footwork in slow motion – just watch the way his feet stop, turn, wheel and land and then accelerate – and I become convinced his skill set and comparison tree is indeed “one of one” when it comes to the

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Maryland women try to punch Final Four ticket Tuesday against Louisville

Posted on 01 April 2014 by WNST Staff

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The fourth-seeded Maryland women’s basketball team (27-6) will take on third-seeded Louisville (33-4) Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the NCAA Elite Eight on the Cardinals’ home court of the KFC Yum! Center.

The Maryland-Louisville matchup will be shown on ESPN, as well as ESPN3.com.

For the full NCAA Tournament bracket, log on to http://www.ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/basketball-women/d1. The winner of Tuesday’s matchup will advance to the Final Four in Nashville, Tenn. and will play either Notre Dame or Baylor in the NCAA Semifinals Sunday.

Maryland is coming off of a 73-62 win over top-seeded Tennessee Sunday in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Alyssa Thomas led the way with a career-high 33 points and 13 rebounds, while Lexie Brown, Laurin Mincy and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough all hit double figures as well. Alicia DeVaughn added 10 rebounds.

This is the third meeting all-time between the Terps and the Cardinals, with the series tied at one. Maryland won the last matchup, 72-68, in the NCAA Second Round in College Park on March 19, 2012. Mincy led the Terrapins with 24 points.

In last year’s NCAA Tournament run, the fourth-seeded Terrapins cruised past Quinnipiac, 72-52, in the First Round in College Park, then beat Michigan State, 74-49 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Maryland fell to eventual national champion Connecticut in the Sweet Sixteen in Bridgeport, Conn.

This marks Maryland’s 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance and 10th in head coach Brenda Frese’s 12 years. She’s led Maryland to four Elite Eights, five Sweet Sixteens, a Final Four and the 2006 NCAA Championship. Her all-time record with Maryland in the Tournament is 24-8 (.750).

The Terrapins are a top four seed for the 13th time in school history No. 4 seed for the third time. They are 6-2 all-time as the fourth-seed.

Thomas became Maryland’s all-leading scorer in the men’s or women’s history in the NCAA First Round with her 13 points. She passed Juan Dixon (2,269) and currently has 2,320 career points.

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Ripken to be honored by Louisville Slugger

Posted on 17 September 2013 by WNST Staff

Cal Ripken, Jr. to Receive 2013 Living Legend Award from Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

Baseball’s “Iron Man” to accept award in Louisville on November 8th

Louisville, KY – September 17, 2013 – Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory will honor Baseball Hall of Famer and Baltimore Orioles great, Cal Ripken, Jr., with its 2013 Living Legend Award on Friday, November 8th. Ripken, Jr. will be recognized during a special ceremony that kicks-off the 10th Annual Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Auction.

“Cal Ripken, Jr., has always been an inspiring ambassador for baseball and really knew how to wield his Louisville Slugger bats,” said Anne Jewell, Executive Director at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.  “He is a true class act, a consummate teammate and one of the hardest working men in baseball.  We’re excited and honored to recognize him with our 2013 Living Legend Award,” she said.

One of the true legends of baseball, Cal Ripken, Jr., began his professional career in 1978, made it to the majors in 1981, and quickly set a new standard for shortstops. Big, strong, and durable, he displayed power at the plate, grace in the field, and unrivaled perseverance.

He earned AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1982, won the MVP award in 1983 and 1991, and received a Gold Glove in 1991 and 1992. In 1995, Cal broke Lou Gehrig’s major league record for consecutive games played (2,130). Cal voluntarily ended his streak on September 20, 1998, after playing 2,632 consecutive games.

Using a Louisville Slugger P72 model throughout most of his 21-year career, Ripken amassed 3,184 hits, including 431 home runs. He holds many major league records, including most home runs by a shortstop and highest single season fielding percentage by a shortstop (.996). He retired from baseball in 2001 after 21 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles.

Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 with the third highest voting percentage in history, Cal Ripken, Jr., is baseball’s all-time Iron Man.

After his playing career, Ripken, Jr., has experienced great success off the diamond.  He is a best-selling author, TV analyst and President and CEO of Ripken Baseball, Inc., a company whose mission is to grow the game of baseball at the grassroots level.

Ripken Baseball owns and operates Ripken Experience youth complexes in Aberdeen, MD. And Myrtle Beach, SC. In addition, the company owns two minor league teams and Ripken Sports, a full-service design and build company that helps communities and organizations achieve their sports facility dreams.

Cal and his family established the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, in memory of their father.  The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation helps to build character and teach critical life lessons to disadvantaged young people residing in America’s most distressed communities through baseball and softball themed programs.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be presented with Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory’s Living Legend Award.  To be recognized by Louisville Slugger and included in the company with past award recipients is very special,” said Ripken, Jr.  “Louisville Slugger has been a long-time partner of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and I appreciate all they do to support the Foundation in its goal to help our nation’s disadvantaged youth.  I am eagerly looking forward to accepting the award in Louisville this fall.”

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory has produced a limited edition P72 model collector bat autographed by Ripken, Jr. Only 100 signed bats are available and the cost is $250 per bat, which includes two tickets to the invitation-only Living Legend celebration. Proceeds from the sales of these special bats will benefit the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. For more information or to purchase a bat, please call 502-588-7271 or email giftshop@slugger.com.

Past recipients of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Living Legend Award are Tony Gwynn (2012), Johnny Bench (2011), Ernie Banks (2010), Hank Aaron (2009), Frank Robinson (2008) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (2007).

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City College’s Fair amongst contenders for Tournament M.O.P.

Posted on 01 April 2013 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

Odds to win the 2013 NCAAB Men’s Basketball Championship 

Louisville #1                                          2/3

Michigan #4                                          3/1

Syracuse #4                                          17/4

Wichita State #9                                    12/1

 

2013 NCAAB Men’s Basketball Championship – Exact Matchup

Louisville vs. Michigan                           5/6

Louisville vs. Syracuse                          3/2

Wichita State vs. Michigan                     15/2

Wichita State vs. Syracuse                    10/1

 

Who will win the NCAAB Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player?

Russ Smith (Louisville)                          4/5

Trey Burke (Michigan)                            4/1

Peyton Siva (Louisville)                         7/1

Mitch McGary (Michigan)                        10/1

Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)         12/1

Gorgui Deng (Louisville)                        15/1

Brandon Triche (Syracuse)                     15/1

C.J. Fair (Syracuse)                               18/1

James Southerland (Syracuse)               20/1

Nik Stauskas (Michigan)                        20/1

Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan)                  20/1

Malcolm Armstead (Wichita State)          30/1

Carl Hall (Wichita State)                          30/1

Cleanthony Early (Wichita State)             30/1

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Maryland tops Louisville to reach NCAA Soccer semifinals

Posted on 01 December 2012 by WNST Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – No. 2 Maryland advanced to its 12th College Cup in program history with a 3-1 victory over No. 10 Louisville in the quarterfinals of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship Saturday.

A raucous Ludwig Field crowd enjoyed goals from London Woodberry, Jake Pace and Patrick Mullins as the Terrapins (20-1-2) avenged last season’s NCAA tournament loss to the Cardinals (14-6-1). The Terps will face local rival Georgetown in the NCAA semifinals in Hoover, Ala., Friday at 5 p.m.

Maryland showed its intent in the opening 30 seconds of the match when freshman Schillo Tshuma’s bicycle kick attempt was punched over the bar by Louisville keeper Mike Mauro.

The Terrapins continued to pour on the pressure and Woodberry cashed in, scoring his third goal of the season off a Taylor Kemp cross in the 34th minute. The goal was the senior centerback’s first since he knocked in two tallies in a 3-2 win over College of Charleston on September 29.

Louisville struck back on the counter in the 40th minute. Zach Foxhoven got on the end of a Dylan Mares feed and put the ball past Maryland keeper Keith Cardona to even the contest.

Maryland took the lead into halftime after redshirt junior Pace weaved through the Cardinal defense and headed home aDakota Edwards cross into the far left corner.

The goal with 40 seconds remaining in the first stanza was Pace’s fifth of the season and gave the Terrapins a margin that reflected their first half dominance.

Maryland controlled most of the second half, but was unable to capitalize on a number of chances. Sunny Jane and Mullins both had point blank efforts saved by Mauro, who tallied five saves for the game.

Mullins, a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist, finally provided the Terps with a two-goal cushion in the 68th minute. The junior knocked in his team-leading 16th goal of the season off his own rebound after a scramble in front of the net following a solid Kemp serve from the sideline.

Maryland, led by the backline of Woodberry, Edwards, Kemp and Jordan Cyrus, protected its lead for the final 20 minutes to secure its 12th trip to the College Cup.

“We played a great game against one of the great teams in college soccer…against one of the most well-coached, skillful and determined teams in the country,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “This game had a lot of intrigue to it and our team came out with a hunger, a tenacity, a determination and a skillset that carried us through.

“I am delighted our seniors will have a chance to experience the College Cup. Every player that came here since 1994 has had a chance to play in the College Cup, and this set of seniors was not going to let that pass us by. They worked their butts off.”

The victory gave Maryland its fourth 20-win season in its history, all accomplished under Cirovski, who is in his 20th season in College Park.

The Terps, who are returning the College Cup for the first time since 2008 when they won their third national championship, will face the third-seeded Hoyas live on ESPNU.

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I’ll Have Another on to Belmont Stakes

Posted on 21 May 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, 05-20-12 – I’ll Have Another’s connections loaded their Preakness Stakes winner onto a van Sunday morning at Pimlico Race Course to begin their journey to Belmont Park in their continuing quest to sweep racing’s Triple Crown.

In front of a record crowd of 121,309, Reddam Racing’s chestnut colt edged Bodemeister by a neck in the 137th Preakness Saturday afternoon to become the first horse since Big Brown in 2008 to win the first two legs of the series. He will try to become the 12th horse to capture American racing’s most treasured prize – and the first since Affirmed in 1978 – in the Belmont Stakes on June 9.

Trainer Doug O’Neill said the colt and his team are ready for the challenge.

“My dreams always ended with winning the Kentucky Derby,” he said. “They never were followed up with winning the Preakness and going to the Belmont. That’s a new dream now I’m waiting to pull off.”

O’Neill said that I’ll Have Another came out of the race well and was happy with his appearance when he arrived at the barn at 6 a.m. Sunday morning.

“He looked great,” O’Neill said. “He had licked his feed tub. Once we cleaned the poultice off, his legs were ice cold. He had good energy.”

I’ll Have Another was loaded onto a van at 9:05 a.m. for the journey to Belmont Park.

The thrilling Preakness victory pushed I’ll Have Another’s record to 4-0 this season. He returned from a nearly five-month layoff due to sore shins with a win in the Robert Lewis (G2) on Feb. 4. On April 7, he added the Santa Anita Derby (G1) to his resume before winning the Kentucky Derby on May 5. O’Neill said the colt is well-suited to handle the demanding 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes, the longest of the three races and called “The Test of the Champion.”

“He’s got the mind,” O’Neill said. “You’ve seen the way he’s handled the attention in Kentucky and here in Baltimore. He’s got a great confidence about him and he’s got the stride of a horse that a mile and a half won’t be a problem. He’s got the pedigree; so much stamina on the female side.

“And he’s lightly raced. After winning the Bob Lewis it enabled us to give him plenty of time before his next start. He’s still a fresh, happy, thriving horse that just seems to be getting better and better.”

Meanwhile, O’Neill is prepared for the attention and demands on his time that will come his way between the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

“Bring it on,” he said. “We’re ready.”

O’Neill spent a few hours at the post-race party in the barn area hosted by the Maryland Jockey Club, but ended his celebrating around 10 p.m.

“Lynette and I and the kids ended up going back to the hotel and getting room service,” he said. “And the kids were doing a lot of gymnastics moves off the bed. It was kind of a mellow evening once we got back into the hotel.

“Here it was just a fun house party. We kept saying ‘I hope mom and dad don’t show up. We’re all going to be in trouble.’ It’s something I had never experienced before in my life, the amount of enthusiasm and positivity and love for horse racing. It was a dream come true for anyone involved in the business.”

Assistant trainer Jack Sisterson and several members of O’Neill’s staff went with the colt to Belmont Park. O’Neill and his family were scheduled to fly home to California on owner J. Paul Reddam’s private jet. After checking on his horses at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita, O’Neill said he would probably travel to New York in about a week.

In all likelihood, O’Neill said, he won’t make any changes in I’ll Have Another’s training program during the three weeks leading up to the Belmont Stakes.

“We’ll have to play that by ear,” he said. “It depends on the weather and all that stuff, but we’ll maintain the same type of exercise that he’s had. There’s the old line about you can’t take a sprinter and train him two miles and make a router out of him and you can’t take a router and work them three-eighths every week and make a sprinter out of him.

“If we’ve got a true route horse, which we do, he’s going to maintain his fitness and his exercise. If they can go a mile and a half they will. And he will.”

While the Derby and Preakness had similar storylines with I’ll Have Another catching and passing Bodemeister near the wire, O’Neill said his personal emotions watching the stretch runs were not the same.

“Winning the Derby was an out-of-body experience. It was like, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe it.’” he said. “The Preakness, the expectations were obviously a lot higher. It was almost like, ‘C’mon boy, C’mon.’”

O’Neill acknowledged that there were moments in the duel through the stretch that it looked like I’ll Have Another might not overtake Bodemeister.

“He was running such a brilliant race and even if he had run second he would have run brilliantly,” O’Neill said. “You don’t want to run second when you run that good, and I’m glad he didn’t.”

BODEMEISTER – After another agonizingly tough loss to I’ll Have Another in the Preakness, Zayat Stables and Michel and Tiffany Moreno’s colt was flown back to California Sunday morning. He will remain in training, but will skip the Belmont Stakes.

“I’ve had enough,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert quipped.

Baffert said that Bodemeister appeared to be in good condition before leaving the Pimlico Stakes Barn for Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

“He was actually pretty happy today,” Baffert said. “He ate up, got on a plane and headed back to California. He came out of it really well.”

Bodemeister set the pace in the Derby and the Preakness and each time I’ll Have Another managed to catch and pass him near the finish line. The Arkansas Derby winner turned in gallant performances in defeat.

“He’s a pretty amazing animal,” Baffert said. “He didn’t act tired. After the race, he came back to the barn and he wasn’t as tired as he was after the Derby.”

Baffert said I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister showed in the Derby and the Preakness that they are at the top of a talented crop of 3-year-olds.

“They are two really good horses,” he said. “On any given year they could probably win those races. It was a tough year.”

Baffert said that the Zayat Stables’ colt Paynter might start in the Belmont Stakes.  Paynter, who won an allowance race in convincing style Saturday at Pimlico, was shipped to Belmont Park Sunday morning.

“We’re going to train him there,” Baffert said. “If it looks like he snapped out of his race, we’ll run him in the Belmont if he looks really good.”

CREATIVE CAUSE – The third-place finisher in Preakness 137 boarded a van Sunday morning to head for Baltimore-Washington International Airport for a scheduled 9 a.m. flight back to Los Angeles and his home base of Hollywood Park.

“He came out of the race OK,” said trainer Mike Harrington minutes before putting the son of Giant’s Causeway on the van.  “Back to California, regroup.”

Harrington surprised some observers when he sent Creative Cause home after his fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, before bringing him back to Pimlico the following week for the Preakness. He said he is now contemplating one more cross-country venture to compete in the Belmont Stakes.

“I’d say right now it’s 50-50,” said Harrington, who was scheduled to get on a flight Sunday evening with assistant/exercise rider John Cisneros for the trip home.

“He ran his heart out,” Cisneros said. “He didn’t have any trouble at all. He ran hard, and I thought he was going to win it. Today he was very alert and happy. Actually he was jumping up and down when he was walking.”

The Belmont would be Creative Cause’s sixth race midway through his sophomore season. The San Felipe (G 2) winner has only been out of the money once in 10 career starts, that coming in his fifth-place finish in the Derby.

ZETTERHOLM – Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Sunday that the Winter Park Partners’ Zetterholm appeared to come out of his fourth-place finish in the Preakness in good order.

The New York-bred son of Silver Train was shipped back to Dutrow’s barn at Aqueduct Sunday morning.

“I got what I wanted from the race,” Dutrow said. “I was hoping and praying for a third or fourth-place finish.  We got the fourth-place finish and we left there satisfied, but I did not see my horse run big. I know he put in his little effort there, but I thought he could have run better. He didn’t change leads, which is very unlike him, and he didn’t get along so well with the track.”

TEETH OF THE DOG – Trainer Michael Matz reported that J. W. Singer’s Teeth of the Dog exited his fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Preakness in good condition.

“I was happy with the way he ran. He’s kind of inexperienced and he’s probably not as good as those horses right now,” said Matz from Fair Hill Training Center Sunday morning.

Teeth of the Dog will be not run in the Belmont Stakes, but Matz has the horse that may well be Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another’s most dangerous foe in his quest for a Triple Crown sweep. Union Rags, who finished a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby, was held out of the Preakness to train for the Belmont Stakes.

Union Rags captured the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park last fall. Matz is confident that Union Rags will be well suited to the 1 ½ -mile oval, the sweeping turns and the relatively deep racing surface.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Matz said. “He’s won there before, so I don’t think that part of it will be a problem.”

OPTIMIZER – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who won back-to-back stakes races on the Preakness undercard but finished sixth in the main event, exited Pimlico shortly after dawn with his entourage early Sunday for the long van ride back to Louisville.

“He’s fine; he came out of the race in good shape,” Lukas said by phone while on the highway home. “We’re going to get home and Mr. Kelley (owner Brad) and I talked last night and we’re going to talk a little bit further when we get back.”

Lukas said before the Preakness he believed the son of English Channel was probably better suited to the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes than either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness. He finished 11th in the Derby in some traffic, then got going late to split the field in the Preakness at odds of 23-1.

“I would say we’re probable for the Belmont just because of the distance and the different configuration of the race track,” said Lukas, who has won the Belmont Stakes four times in his storied career. Lukas last took the Belmont in 2000 with long shot Commendable, following three consecutive victories from 1994-96 with Tabasco Cat, Thunder Gulch and Editor’s Note.

“I’d say it’s 50-50 right now,” he said. “The winner (I’ll Have Another) is a nice horse, but we’re not going to hand it (the Triple Crown) to him. He’s got to earn it.”

COZZETTI – The seventh-place finisher in Preakness 137 returned to his home base at Churchill Downs Sunday, where trainer Dale Romans will decide whether to continue on to Belmont or embark on a grass campaign to take advantage of his attractive turf pedigree.

“I’m not sure,” Romans said when asked if he would go onto the Belmont Stakes with Albaugh Family Stable’s son of grass champion Cozzene. “We’ll regroup. We’ve got to figure out why he’s not running better. He’s a better horse than he’s shown. Once we get back to Kentucky, we’ll figure him out.”

Even if Romans bypasses the Belmont with Cozzetti, he has another candidate that he’s more than a little excited about in Dullahan.

“He worked Saturday morning (five furlongs in 1:00.20, second-best of 26) at Churchill,” Romans said of the Blue Grass winner and Kentucky Derby show finisher. “He’s on track for a big Belmont.”

Romans, who won the 2011 Preakness with Shackleford, decided not to run in the Preakness and give Dullahan extra rest for the Belmont Stakes.

“It should help him,” he said. “He’ll be a fresher horse.”

WENT THE DAY WELL – Team Valor International and Mark Ford’s Went the Day Well was reported to have come out of  a 10th-place finish in the Preakness in good order.

“He seems OK. He has a couple of scrapes, but all in all, he’s good,” said trainer Graham Motion from Fair Hill Training Center Sunday morning.

Motion could offer no concrete reason for the disappointing effort that followed a strong fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

“Maybe the Derby took more out of him that I realized. I just don’t know,” Motion said.

Went the Day Well is unlikely to go on to the Belmont Stakes.

“I think we’ll point to some of the summer races like the Travers,” Motion said.

TIGER WALK – Trainer Ignacio Correas and his eighth-place Preakness runner were back at Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Farm Sunday morning, having departed Pimlico Saturday night for the 20-minute van ride home.

“He came out of the race good,” Correas said. “He just walked today. He was probably a little tired.”

The Preakness was Tiger Walk’s fourth race as a 3-year-old, all stakes, but his only in-the-money finish came in the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct in February in his seasonal debut.

Correas said he thought the son of Tale of the Cat would probably not be heading to New York for the Belmont Stakes in three weeks.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I haven’t talked to Kevin about it yet. We’re going to talk during the week, but I don’t think so.”

PRETENSION – Trainer Chris Grove reported from Bowie Training Center that Kidwells Petite Stable’s Pretension came out of his 11th-place finish in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes in good order.

“He’s in great shape. No problems, “I think we’ll probably head for the Mike Lee in late June,” said Grove, referring to the Belmont Park stakes that’s restricted to New York-bred horses.

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Trainer O’Neill set to join I’ll Have Another this week in Baltimore

Posted on 09 May 2012 by WNST Audio

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I’ll Have Another tracks down Bodemeister to win Kentucky Derby

Posted on 05 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Bodemeister favorite, but plenty of good horses in Derby

Posted on 05 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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