Natiional Sports Briefs
NEW YORK ó Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom nearly fell at the start. Preakness winner Shackleford faded in the stretch. The Belmont Stakes was up for grabs.
And it was 24-1 long shot Ruler on Ice who delivered a huge upset Saturday in the final leg of the Triple Crown, splashing his way to a three-quarter length victory over Stay Thirsty.
As expected, Shackleford led from the start but when the field of 12 turned for home in the 11/2-mile Belmont, he tired in the muck as long shots Ruler On Ice and Stay Thirsty passed him by.
ěRuler wasnít slowing down,î winning jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. said. ěIt was a great feeling the last sixteenth of a mile.î
The much-hyped rubber match between Shackleford and Animal Kingdom never developed on a rainy day at Belmont Park. Shackleford finished fifth, while Animal Kingdom had a frightful start, never moved into contention and finished sixth.
Jockey John Velazquez nearly fell off when Animal Kingdom collided with Monzon just after the start. He somehow managed to get his left foot back into the stirrup, but by then it was too late. Animal Kingdom had dropped more than 13 lengths off the lead, and did well to finish in the middle of the pack.
ěThe horse almost fell down,î said Graham Motion, Animal Kingdomís trainer. ěJohnny couldnít believe the horse stayed up. He lost his iron. It took him until halfway around the turn to get his foot back in the iron. Itís disappointing not to give the horse a chance to run his race.î
An elated Valdivia, riding in his first Belmont, described the final seconds of the race while on the gallop back to the winnerís circle.
ěIím a couple of yards from the wire and Iím thinking, ëOh my god, oh my god, Iím going to win the Belmont,íî he said.
A crowd of 55,779 turned out hoping to see a stretch showdown between Animal Kingdom and Shackleford ó the first Derby vs. Preakness winners in the Belmont in six years. But that vanished once the Derby winner was knocked around in a bad bit of racing luck.
SAN DIEGO ó Reggie Bush’s copy of his 2005 Heisman Trophy currently is in the possession of a San Diego sports museum, but is not on display.
Angela LaChica, a vice president at the San Diego Hall of Champions, says the hall received the trophy from the family in March but never displayed it and now is in the process of getting it back in the hands of Bush’s family.
The Heisman Trust no longer recognizes Bush as the winner of the award. Bush relinquished his title to it after an NCAA probe concluded that the former Southern California star and his family accepted improper benefits from would-be sports agents while Bush was still playing for USC.
The same probe also led the Bowl Championship Series to vacate USC’s 2004 BCS national title.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ó Outgoing athletics director Mike Hamilton, former basketball coach Bruce Pearl and former football coach Lane Kiffin are part of a Tennessee contingent that will meet with NCAA officials this weekend.
RIO DE JANEIRO ó IOC officials left Rio de Janeiro impressed by preparations for the 2016 Olympics, saying the city had made great strides on its infrastructure projects.
The glowing report, delivered by the IOC oversight panel after a three-day visit, included praise for public works such as a new rapid transit bus system and projects meant to benefit the city in the long run.
Rio will be the first city in South America to host the Olympics.
DES MOINES, Iowa ó Florida State’s Ngonidzashe Makusha broke the national collegiate record in the 100 meters at the NCAA Outdoor championships, winning in 9.89 seconds.
Makusha broke the mark of 9.90 set by Ato Boldon of UCLA in 1996.
LONDON ó Andy Murray of Britain overwhelmed Andy Roddick 6-3, 6-1 Saturday to reach the final at Queen’s Club.
He’ll play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday’s final. The Frenchman ended unseeded Briton James Ward’s run with a 6-3, 7-6 (7) victory in the other semifinal.
Murray, who won the title in 2009, produced a fine all-round display against an error-prone Roddick to win their semifinal in just 59 minutes. He had 13 aces and ensured Roddick failed in his attempt to become the first player to win five titles at the pre-Wimbledon tournament.