Sports briefs: April 9

April 9, 2013 

Horse racing

Baffert's Flashback off Derby trail with chip in right knee

Flashback was taken off the Kentucky Derby trail because of a small chip in his right knee and will be sidelined at least two months.

Flashback finished second to Goldencents in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday. Baffert said the injury occurred during the race.

"He's going to be fine," Baffert was quoted on BloodHorse.com. "He took a little bobble in the stretch when he turned for home and switched leads and didn't go on after that. So maybe he did it then. This morning he was fine, but he had some heat in the knee, so we took an X-ray and found the fresh chip in there."

The colt owned by Gary and Mary West will be sent to Lexington's Rood & Riddle on Wednesday to have the chip removed.

Flashback won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, then finished second in the San Felipe before the Santa Anita Derby.

■ Trainer Chad Brown was at Keeneland on Monday morning and confirmed that Balance the Books would be entered in Saturday's Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Brown said Noble Tune, who had been considered for the race, instead would make his next start at Churchill Downs.

"I don't feel like (Noble Tune has) handled the Polytrack as well as I would have hoped," Brown said.

Balance the Books is coming off an 11th-place finish in the Grade III Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 23.

"Things didn't go his way. He never really ran but half of the race," Brown said. "I bought that horse at Keeneland last year, and I thought he'd trained so well on the Polytrack before I bought him. ... I'm going to draw a line through Turfway and take a shot in the Blue Grass."

Post positions for the Grass will be drawn on Wednesday.

■ Trainer Charlie LoPresti said that Jose Lezcano will likely ride 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan when he makes his seasonal debut in the Grade I Maker's 46 Mile.

"I know Mr. (Morton) Fink wants Lezcano to ride him," LoPresti said of the gelding's owner and breeder. "If something happens to where Lezcano can't ride, it would be Julien Leparoux."

John Velazquez, regular rider for Wise Dan, was involved in a spill Sunday at Aqueduct and suffered a fractured rib and chipped a bone in his right wrist. He will be unavailable to ride Friday.


NBA

Riley says Heat will be ready for playoffs

Pat Riley said he wakes up around 11 a.m. these days then heads into the office to chat with fellow Miami Heat executives Nick Arison and Andy Elisburg about nothing. He's lying, of course.

There might not be anyone in the Miami organization who savors playoff time more than Riley, the Heat president with eight championship rings in his collection. And with Miami on the cusp of setting a franchise record for wins in a season — the team mark is 61, which this Heat club could match with a win against Milwaukee on Tuesday night — Riley sounds very much like he's ready for another post-season run.

"It's the ultimate dream for me," Riley said. "It really is."

Barring all-out collapse, Miami will head into the playoffs later this month as the No. 1 overall seed in the league, guaranteed home-court advantage through the NBA Finals.

"They're ready," Riley said. "They know that they have something to play for. They know they have the weapons to go out and play for it. They're so smart as a team."

Riley rarely gives interviews about the state of the Heat anymore, preferring the overwhelming majority of the focus and spotlight remain on Coach Erik Spoelstra and the players.

"I just want to keep helping them," Riley said. "I want to keep bringing in pieces that's going to complement them and hope we can have one of those 10-year rides, you know? You think about every team, the Celtics in the '60s and the Lakers in the '80s and the Bulls and then again the Spurs, those guys have been together for eight, nine, 10 years. And if we can keep this group together for eight, nine, 10 years, we're all going to have some fun."


Colleges

UK athletics gives promotion to Peevy

DeWayne Peevy, who has been serving as the executive associate athletics director for external operations at Kentucky, was promoted to deputy director of athletics, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart announced. Peevy will continue to oversee the day-to-day responsibilities for men's basketball and the K Fund development office.

"DeWayne, through his time in the Southeastern Conference office and his five years at Kentucky, has shown tremendous ability as an administrator and a leader," Barnhart said in a statement.

Gators' Young will return for senior year

Patric Young's first three seasons at Florida ended one victory shy of the Final Four. He'll take another shot at getting there. Young announced Monday that he's staying in school for one more year.

Young had been projected as a second-round pick in this summer's 2013 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-9 junior from nearby Jacksonville averaged 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds this season.


NASCAR One-car team suits Kurt Busch just fine

Kurt Busch had shown all kinds of promise with his new Furniture Row Racing team, finishing in the top five in consecutive races and climbing to the cusp of being in the coveted top 12 of NASCAR's Sprint Cup standings. He arrived at Martinsville Speedway last week 13th in points, a pretty impressive showing for a single-car team in the age of multicar powerhouses.

Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion, was doing well at Martinsville on Sunday, too, until a bad fuel pump and then a brake issue caused his day to end in a fiery crash. The car that had been seventh was suddenly relegated to 37th place.

"I was juggling a bunch of stuff," he said, having overcome a flat tire that put him two laps down, a fuel pump that he and his team knew could be a problem later in the race and a spin. And "then it all came unraveled."

It was the kind of incident that has gotten the hot-headed Busch in trouble in the past. He has blasted his team over the radio or taken out his frustrations on other drivers or reporters. All of this is part of the reason he said the single-car team works well for him.

"Just more of a family atmosphere, the ease of communication," he said of Barney Visser's team. "Everybody, it seems, is all on the same page and you don't have to worry about it. ... It's easier to keep your arms around everybody."

The family atmosphere also simplifies things, he said.

"The corporate side of it can get so vicious," he said, having driven for the multicar teams owned by Jack Roush and Roger Penske. At Furniture Row, "the owner is the sponsor, there's less people involved, and you don't have a group of people checking surveys and things and blowing things out of proportion because of one week where things didn't go right.

"I've been on the pit box watching my little brother (Kyle Busch) race his Nationwide car that we shared last year, and I'm like, 'Why's he so excited? Everything's going to be fine,'" he said, laughing. "Well, when you're in the car, it's a little different."


The last word

Richard Pitino is less than half of Tubby Smith's age. That alone has brought a seismic shift for the Minnesota basketball program, with last week's takeover by the 30-year-old Pitino. Former Gophers player and current radio analyst Spencer Tollackson said:

"Just in terms of being able to relate to a guy, if I was 18 years old I would relate more to a guy who was 30 and maybe listened to the same music I did and had a Twitter account. I know Tubby worked hard, and all the assistants worked hard, but you just get the sense that Pitino is going to grind and put in those 80, 90 and 100-hour weeks. If anything, the fact that his last name is Pitino is going to drive him to work harder because he has a reputation to uphold."

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