Baffert goes 2-for-2 in Derby preps at Oaklawn
Bob Baffert didn't stop with just one Kentucky Derby hopeful. A pair of the trainer's horses, Castaway and Secret Circle, won both divisions of the $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas on Monday. Jockey Rafael Bejarano rode both horses to the wins in the 1-mile Derby prep race, which was split into two divisions after 21 horses were entered. Baffert wasn't on hand for the wins, but he left his mark on the day in front of a crowd of 29,313.
Castaway won the first of the two races at 6-1, pulling away down the stretch for a 3¾-length win over Jake Mo. Secret Circle, a heavy favorite, followed that by holding off Scatman for a 1½ -length win in the second — potentially solidifying the colt's Derby hopes.
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Secret Circle, last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint winner, lost for the first time in four career starts in his previous race — the 1-mile $100,000 Sham Stakes on Jan. 7. Secret Circle was shocked in the Sham as a 1-2 favorite by Out of Bounds after briefly leading down the stretch. On Monday, he was neck-and-neck with Scatman before pulling away in 1:37.08.
"I think he worked harder on the front end of (the Sham Stakes), maybe, than today," co-owner Karl Watson said. "Although, he had to work hard today, too. ... That Out of Bounds is a good horse."
Watson said a decision on the colt's Kentucky Derby future was in Baffert's hands. "It looks like he's got a lot of options," Watson said.
Castaway won his last time out at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 12. He started from the 11th position on Monday but went out early with Majestic Stride before running away from the field down the stretch and finishing in 1:38.09.
Men's College basketball
Tide's Mitchell suspended rest of season
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant suspended junior forward Tony Mitchell for the rest of the season on Monday but cleared senior JaMychal Green to return to practice. Grant said earlier Monday he didn't expect either to play Thursday night at Arkansas. He didn't elaborate on his decisions or a timeline for Green to return to game action in a brief statement released by Alabama, and he hasn't said what the two players did wrong. Mitchell has been out for the last four games — the Crimson Tide is 1-3 in that stretch — while Green has been suspended for the past three. Mitchell and Green are the team's top scorers and rebounders.
"I think our guys have moved on and just try to get better in each practice and try to prepare the best we can for the opponent in front of us," Grant said Monday.
Suspended driver Mayfield indicted
Suspended NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield, an Owensboro native, was indicted by a grand jury in Catawba, N.C., on charges of possession of stolen goods stemming from a Nov. 1 search of his property. Mayfield called the charges "baseless," saying the goods were his property and adding that he has been cooperating with investigators. Mayfield is charged with three felony counts of possession of stolen goods from Fitz Motorsports, Red Bull Racing and office equipment from DEA Ventures. Law enforcement officials seized more than $100,000 worth of goods that had been reported stolen. They also found 1.5 grams of methamphetamine, and Mayfield was indicted on a felony drug possession charge in November.
Littrell strikes out eight in Bat Cats' win
Kentucky sophomore left-hander Corey Littrell pitched a career-long seven shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out a career-best eight batters in the Wildcats' 6-0 victory over host South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C. It was Kentucky's third straight game with 10 or more hits. Austin Cousino and J.T. Riddle had three apiece. UK's home opener is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday against Buffalo.
Women's College basketball
Ex-UK coach Fanning retiring after season
Mississippi State women's basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said she plans to retire at the end of the season. Fanning-Otis has a 608-457 record over 36 seasons at Tennessee-Chattanooga, Kentucky and Mississippi State and is one of just 14 women's basketball coaches with 600 career victories.
■ Skylar Diggins scored 21 points and freshman Kayla McBride added 15 to lead No. 3 Notre Dame over No. 16 Louisville 68-52 on Monday in the KFC Yum Center. Antonita Slaughter scored 12 points for the Cardinals.
Pujols gets started early with Angels
Decked out in Angels gear from head to toe, Albert Pujols looked like the same slugger whose swing in St. Louis became as symbolic as the Gateway Arch. Pujols sat behind a microphone and excitedly announced the start of a new stage of his career. "Here I am," he said. Arriving more than a week earlier than required, Pujols reported to training camp Monday with the Angels, who will pay the three-time NL MVP $240 million over the next 10 years.
"I'm just really excited to be here, it feels good to be outside," Pujols said. "I've been training for three months, hitting in a cage in St. Louis, and it feels good to be here for some spring baseball."
Although only the Angels' pitchers and catchers had to be at camp this early, Pujols wanted to be there from day one, as well. That's how the 32-year-old has done it since breaking into the big leagues in 2001 and he wasn't about to change his routine. He also said he's ready to move on after a storied Cardinals career.
"I can't go back and feel sorry," he said. "... I don't' want to go look over my shoulder and regret the decisions I made. It was the best for me and my family."
A's, Manny agree to minor-league deal
Manny Ramirez and the Athletics have reached agreement on a minor-league contract worth about $500,000 if he's added to the big-league roster. Oakland announced Monday. Ramirez is expected to report to spring training by the end of the week. The 12-time All-Star is due to serve a 50-game suspension for his second positive drug test before he can play for the A's. Barring rainouts, his first game could be May 30 — on his 40th birthday.
Rivera hints at retirement
Mariano Rivera implied Monday that 2012 could be his final year in the major leagues, saying he won't announce his long-term plans until after the season. The Yankees' 42-year-old closer said he has reached a decision about whether he will retire or return in 2013 but said he won't reveal it until "maybe October."
"I know," Rivera said. "I'll tell you when I'm ready."
"My kids want me home," he added. "They were ready for me to stay home. I had to tell them, I have a job to do. I have obligations."
Donald opens against Els in Match Play
Defending champion Luke Donald will play against Ernie Els in the first round of the Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz. Tiger Woods will play Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer are the top four seeds. Woods, a three-time winner of the Match Play is the No. 19 seed.
The last word
Heat star LeBron James ran out to defend a three-point shot Sunday against Orlando in Miami. He tumbled into the seats and atop two young boys. The boys were not injured, though appeared briefly shaken. James said he checked on the kids later in the game.
"They were smiling. They had two lollipops in their hands. That's always the cure."