Sports Outside the Beltway

Rosecroft Raceway ceases operations

The Maryland racetrack near Washington D.C. discontinued live harness racing nine months ago. From

Just days before the Kentucky Derby, Rosecroft Raceway, which hasn’t had live harness racing in nearly a year, was ordered to cease operations by the Maryland Racing Commission on April 28, thereby losing substantial income from simulcasting Thoroughbred racing.

The track suspended live racing in 2008 saying that harness racing could return next year depending on what happens with slot machines in Maryland. Located near Washington D.C., Rosecroft had been open every day and night for continuous Thoroughbred and harness racing simulcasting.

On April 26, a new revenue-sharing agreement between Rosecroft and Thoroughbred interests called for the harness track to pay the Thoroughbred industry about $5.9 million a year for the right to simulcast Thoroughbred racing. Because of its location, Rosecroft is a major in-state outlet for simulcasts and the live Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) product at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.

In a release, the MJC said Rosecroft owes about $2 million so far this year to the MJC, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and Maryland Horse Breeders Association. The MJC indicated Rosecroft officials would not or could not pay the money, so the racing commission pulled its Thoroughbred simulcast rights. Harness simulcasts are allowed to continue.

When I blogged last year, I said I would be surprised if live racing ever took place Rosecroft again. I proved to be correct, horse racing won’t return and I’m afraid horse racing could be extinct in the United States within fifty years.

Update- Rosecroft was granted a temporary stay. This will enable the track to simulcast Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.


Mexican Golf Open postponed due to Swine flu fears

The tournament with over years of history was to be played next month. From AP-

The Nationwide Tour has postponed the Mexico Open golf tournament scheduled for May 21-24 because of the swine flu outbreak.

Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee says it will be rescheduled for later in the year.

The Mexico Open was to be played at El Bosque Golf Club in Leon, located about 200 miles northwest of Mexico City.

“A significant number of lives have been lost in Mexico, which is tragic,” Calfee said. “There are more important things for people to focus on at the moment.”

The Mexico Open, first played in 1944, is jointly sanctioned by the Nationwide Tour and the Mexican Golf Federation.

In Texas, high school athletic events have been postponed. A Chinese swimming team just canceled a US trip because of swine flu fears. I think we will be hearing more of these stories in the weeks ahead.


Phoenix Coyotes gets loan from the NHL

The team has reported annual losses of thirty million dollars. From AP-

The NHL has loaned an unknown amount of money to the Phoenix Coyotes for payroll and rent payments.

The Arizona Republic reported that if the team fails to pay its debt, the league can take it over, according to financial records filed with Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.

The day after the team agreed to loan terms Feb. 24 with the NHL, it paid Glendale nearly $351,000 in overdue arena rent payments.

The loan terms give the NHL more control over the future of the struggling Coyotes, including the possible relocation of the team.

The NHL and team owner Jerry Moyes declined to comment.

Beset by annual losses reported at $30 million, Moyes is trying to sell all or part of the team.

A poor economy at present and a team owing money and can’t make ends meet. That is not a good recipe for finding a new owner or investors. Shrinkage is definitely an option for the NHL or other leagues with financially troubled franchises but I don’t expect it to happen unless the economy gets worse over the next year or so and a upturn doesn’t look likely.


Navy agrees to play in 2013 Bowl game

So we’re going to start scheduling the college football post season four years in advance? From AP-

Navy has signed an agreement to appear in the 2013 Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Tex.

The Armed Forces Bowl has featured a military theme since 2006. Air Force has appeared in the past two games held at Amon G. Carter Stadium. This year’s game, slated for Dec. 31, will match teams from Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference.

As an independent, Navy has no bowl ties but has earned six straight bowl berths. The Midshipmen played in the Houston Bowl (2003), Emerald Bowl (2004), Meineke Car Care Bowl (2004), Poinsettia Bowl (2005, 2007) and EagleBank Bowl (2008).

While I served in the Navy for 10 years, and was a fan of the football program when George Welsh was its head coach, the 2013 Armed Forces Bowl isn’t serving to me as a bowl game any more but an extension of the regular season. What if Navy has a losing record, or even go winless. Will they still play?

Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk has already signed an agreement for the Midshipmen to appear in the Texas Bowl in Houston this year.

See what I mean and a Annapolis Gazette blog says Navy has committed to playing in bowl games for 2010 and 2011 also. The Service academies have many loyal alumni and that makes them attractive for a bowl game but I still can’t understand this scheduling.


Last horse standing? Win Willy withdraws from the Kentucky Derby

The winner of the Rebel Stakes won’t be racing on Saturday. From The Daily Racing Form-

Win Willy, the Rebel Stakes winner, has the beginnings of a fracture in his left front pastern and will not run in Saturday’s 135th Kentucky Derby, trainer Mac Robertson said Wednesday morning.

“We took X-rays and on one of the X-rays there’s a small line in the pastern going up into the ankle,” Robertson said. “Three out of the four vets who looked at the X-ray said it looks like something that could spiral up into the cannon bone. He’s not off on it, he’s not sore, but there’s something that’s getting started. Most things start out as little problems and if you look away they become big problems.”

Race horses are fragile animals. They are property(not pets as myth would tell you) to horse owners. Owners don’t want to risk the loss of their property even if a Derby win would raise the value many times over.

Win Willy is the third recent withdrawal from the race. The others were Quality Road and Take the Points. Are we in danger of no race this weekend?

Entries for the Derby were to be taken at noon on Wednesday. With Win Willy out, a field of 19 is expected.

The Run for the Roses is safe.


Are the Florida Panthers for sale?

The Globe and Mail reports a group is interested in merging with the parent company that owns the South Florida hockey team.

A company that spurned overtures from the Phoenix Coyotes is negotiating to invest in another financially shaky NHL team: the Florida Panthers.

Sports Properties Acquisition Corp., controlled by New York financier Andrew Murstein and high-profile former U.S. politicians Mario Cuomo and Jack Kemp, is talking to the team’s chairman and general partner Alan Cohen about merging with the Panthers’ parent company (Sunrise Sports & Entertainment), according to sources quoted by the Sports Business Daily.

NHL sources told The Globe and Mail that Murstein, who once tried to buy the Anaheim Ducks, has been making inquiries about the Panthers for several weeks. The Sports Properties vice-chairman was trying to ascertain if the team, which has not made the NHL playoffs for nine years and narrowly missed them this year, was on the rise.

Your guess is as good as mine as to how true this news is. The article’s author got several ‘no comment’ replies.

A new owner for the Panthers might cause the franchise to finally become serious about winning in the NHL. Something the current owner Alan Cohen has rarely displayed. He allowed Panther management to trade Roberto Luongo, and Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is likely not to be back as a Florida Panther.(He’s a unrestricted free agent)s These players are arguably the best at their position in the NHL but team ownership wouldn’t ante up to meet their salary demands. Florida’s lack of playoff appearances over the last nine years can’t totally be attributed to a lack of talent.


Officials blame mineral overdose in polo horse deaths

Local prosecutors say this isn’t a criminal matter. From AP-

Florida officials say a mineral overdose is the probable cause of death for 21 polo horses that fell ill as they prepared for a championship match earlier this month.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said Tuesday the animals likely overdosed on selenium, a common mineral that can be toxic in high doses.

The horses from the Venezuelan-owned Lechuza Caracas team began collapsing as they were unloaded from trailers at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington. Some died at the scene, others hours later. All 21 horses were dead by the next day.

The toxicology results say the animals had “significantly increased selenium levels.”

How much significantly increased? Ten to twenty times the normal amount Dr. John Harvey a University of Florida veterinarian tells The Palm Beach Post.

Citing anonymous sources, an Argentine newspaper reported last week that the supplements included 5 milligrams per milliliter of selenium instead of 0.5 milligrams. Harvey said the horses’ blood and livers contained 10 to 20 times the normal amount of selenium.

The Florida Department of Agriculture declined to offer any details of the ongoing probe.

The poisioning of these horses had to take place over a period of time. A one-time dosage I think wouldn’t have caused those levels to occur.

The question that stumps Harvey is unlikely to be solved by the ongoing investigation into who is responsible for the bad batch of supplements that killed the polo ponies. His question is less complicated.

Why, he wondered Tuesday after the test results were announced, would anyone inject a benign but unnecessary supplement into healthy horses?

“I’m not sure why one needs a mixture like this,” Harvey said, referring to a generic version of Biodyl that became lethal when too much selenium was added. “I’m sitting here saying, ‘Why give them intravenous vitamins?’ I would recommend a good balanced diet.”

Humans usually out of ignorance give themselves drugs and vitamins they think are good for them, when they are of no benefit or even detrimental. Why should their behavior be any different when it comes to animals?


Washington and Carolina advance in Stanley Cup playoffs

The last two first round series concluded last night. First Washington rallied to eliminate the New York Rangers.

Fedorov beat Henrik Lundqvist with 4:59 left in the third period, rookie Simeon Varlamov was good in the net when he had to be, and the second-seeded Capitals edged the No. 7 New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal Tuesday night.

If Washington coach Bruce Boudreau had stuck with the veteran Theodore as Goalie, The Rangers would have advanced. It was a gutsy decision.

New Jersey was victimized by two late Carolina goals in their loss.

Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal scored in a 48-second span late in the third period as the Hurricanes stunned the Devils 4-3 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference series.

To me, Carolina’s win is more surprising than Anaheim knocking off San Jose.

The conference semi-finals are set. My predictions are-

Boston takes Carolina 4 games to 1. I think the Bruins are the best team still in the playoffs.
Washington beats Pittsburgh 4 games to 3. Can Varlamov stand the pressure of Crosby, Malkin, and company? He better, otherwise the Capitals will make mincemeat of Theodore.


Division II player hits five straight home runs

I can’t recall anyone hitting more than four in a row. From AP-

West Virginia State’s Bo Darby hit home runs in five consecutive at-bats over two games, including four in one contest.

The sophomore outfielder homered in his first four trips to the plate Monday against Salem International. He also connected in his final at-bat Saturday against the University of Charleston.

A double and a single in his two previous plate appearances Saturday gave Darby seven straight hits.

Darby homered twice more in the second game of Monday’s doubleheader, giving him six for the day with 14 RBIs. He has 18 home runs this season.

The NCAA doesn’t keep Division II records for home runs in consecutive at-bats. St. Edwards’ Josh Hamilton holds the Division II records of five home runs in one game set against Oklahoma Panhandle in April 2003.

That’s a shame the NCAA doesn’t keep records. A great deal of sports history is going to be lost as a result.


Former NBA player Glen Gondrezick dead at 53

He played for the Knicks and Nuggets during the 70′s and 80′s. More recently he worked as announcer for his alma mater UNLV. RIP.

Former UNLV basketball star Glen Gondrezick, who later played for the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets before turning to broadcasting, has died. He was 53.

School officials and close friend Bobby Gleason said Gondrezick died Monday at St. Rose Hospital in Henderson, Nev., after apparent complications from a heart transplant that he received last September.

“From what the doctors told us, the body just rejected the heart,” Gleason said. “Gondo never gave up. The heart did.”

Gondrezick starred on the Rebels’ Final Four team in 1977, and his jersey No. 25 was retired by the program in 1997. He ranks 16th on the school’s career scoring list with 1,311 points, and his 831 rebounds rank ninth.

“He was only 6-foot-6. The hustle is what made him,” said former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian. “He would dive on the floor. He would take charges. If they kept that stat, he would have led the nation in taking charges.

“He was a fierce competitor and a very loyal guy. I’m going to miss him so much.”

Gondrezick played for the Knicks and Nuggets from 1977 to 1983, and later spent 17 years doing color commentary on UNLV basketball broadcasts.


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