Animal Kingdom wins Derby, eyes Preakness

My top pick in last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby was Nehro, who finished second. But I was even happier to watch 23-1 longshot Animal Kingdom win the race, returning a nice $329.80 exacta. I was even more thrilled when Mucho Macho Man finished third, giving those who played the trifecta $3,952.40. Not a bad afternoon.Derby 137 at Churchill Downs in Louisville attracted the most fans ever with 164,858 people, nearly 1,100 more than the previous record set in 1974.

Bets on the Kentucky Derby from around the United States and other off-track-betting facilities amounted to $112 million, just under last year’s $112.7 million.

Robby Albarado was originally scheduled to ride Animal Kingdom in the Derby, but Albarado was tossed from a horse earlier in the week and suffered facial injuries, including a broken nose. Trainer Graham Motion named John Velazquez, one of the best thoroughbred riders in the country, as his replacement.

I am one of those that believe in karma. Earlier in April, Albarado was arrested and charged with domestic violence when his wife, Kimber, called 9-1-1 from their home in Louisville. The 37-year-old Albarado, who was born in Lafayette, La., was charged with wanton endangerment, domestic assault and intimidating a witness. He was released on his own recognizance.

While many celebrated along with Animal Kingdom, some were saddened when Archarcharch was injured during the race, fracturing his left front leg. Trainer William “Jinks” Fires said they opted for surgery and Dr. Larry Bramlage inserted pins but found more damage while operating. Fires and the owners decided to retire the horse.

Uncle Mo, who was to start in Post 18 in the Derby, was scratched the day before the race because veterinarians were unable to find out why the colt wasn’t feeling well. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the 3-year-old colt was sent to WinStar Farms to continue treatment. Uncle Mo was being treated for a GI tract infection after finishing third in the Wood Memorial Stakes, his only defeat.

I strongly suggested, with a weak field, that there was no way we would have a Triple Crown winner this year. After watching Animal Kingdom, I’m backing away from that statement.

If you watched as the horses came onto the track before the Derby, you saw how much bigger Animal Kingdom was that the rest of the field. With a big field, I knew such a big horse wouldn’t be bothered if he got knocked around.

Next up is leg two of the Triple Crown as the Preakness Stakes will be held on May 21 at Pimilico near Baltimore with a distance of 1 3/16 miles. The field will be limited to 14 starters and, as of right now, Motion said Animal Kingdom is fresh and ready to roll.

Early reports say Derby runners Dialed In, who finished 8th as the favorite, third-place finisher Mucho Macho Man and fourth-place runner Shackleford would join the Preakness party. Santiva, who finished sixth, is also a possibility.

Second-place finisher Nehro will likely skip the Preakness and point toward the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont on June 11, said trainer Steve Asmussen.Asmussen, who won the Preakness with Curlin in 2007 and the filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009, said he would instead start Astrology. The son of A.P. Indy last raced second in the one-mile Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. He finished second in the Sunland Derby and has never finished worse than third in sever career starts.

Trainer Bob Baffert, who has won five Preakness Stakes, said a decision about Midnight Interlude (16th Derby) would come next week.

Other contenders include Concealed Identity, who won the Tesio Stakes at Pimilico; Dance City (third in Arkansas Derby); Flashpoint (fourth in Florida Derby); King Congie (third in Blue Grass); Mr. Commons (third in Santa Anita Derby); Norman Asbjornson (fourth in Wood Memorial); Prime Cut (second in Lexington Stakes); and Sway Away (fourth in Arkansas Derby).

MMA

Two local MMA fighters from American Top Team Beaumont will fight May 14 at the Multi-Purpose Center on the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation in Livingston with a start time of 7 p.m. Tickets are $50, $25 and $20.

Ryan “Superman” Spann will fight for the East Texas MMA 185-pound title when he steps into the cage against Ralph Garcia. Also fighting from ATT Beaumont will be Will “Big Swole” Spidle vs. Josiah Caroll.

More information can be found at easttexasmma.org.

UFC 130 takes place at the end of the month, May 30, but one of the main events has been postponed. Frankie Edgar (13-1-1, 8-1-1 UFC) was to defend his title against Gray Maynard (10-0-1, 8-0-1 UFC) but both fighters have been injured while training.

The co-main event of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (31-8, 6-2 UFC) vs. Matt Hamill (10-2, 9-2 UFC) will now be bumped up to carry the show. Heavyweights Frank Mir (14-5) and “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-5) will now be the co-main event.

It was made official that UFC 134 on Aug. 27 will be headlined by Anderson “The Spider” Silva (28-4, 13-0 UFC) defending his middleweight title against Yushin Okami (26-5, 10-2 UFC) at the HSBC Arena in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, Silva’s native country.

Silva is on an unprecedented 14-fight win streak, and his last loss came in 2006 when he was disqualified for doing an illegal kick on — you guessed it — Okami at Rumble on the Rock 6 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Okami has won his last three since losing a decision to Chael Sonnen. Those wins were against Nate Marquardt (decision), Mark Munoz (split decision) and Lucio Linhares (TKO).

Also scheduled on the undercard is freshly defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (19-5, 3-3 UFC) vs. Forrest Griffin (18-6, 9-4 UFC).

I am 100 percent done with watching Manny Pacquiao fights. Done. Pacquiao improved to 53-3-2 when he defeated 39-year-old Shane Mosely via 12-round unanimous decision last Saturday in Las Vegas.

Fans at the MGM Grand booed, and after the boo-birds came out, I actually turned the fight off in the eighth round. I couldn’t watch it. Though it wasn’t all Pac’s fault, Mosely apparently fought for a payday, and he needs to call it quits.

Until the stars align and Pac and Floyd Mayweather Jr. suck it up and fight, I won’t waste my time.

So if they aren’t going to fight anytime soon, who should Pac fight next?

Maybe a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez? Marquez is 48-3-1 and his one draw was with Pac in 2004, and he lost a close decision in 2008. But Marquez looked bad against Mayweather in 2009. Would it be any different this time around?

The new name on the block is undefeated 27-year-old Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley. Bradley, 27-0, is scheduled to fight Amir Khan (25-1) on July 23. He would be stepping up in class, but that’s about all there is left for Pac to fight.

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