Orb returns to the track; Shug says 'all systems are go'
Orb is becoming quite comfortable in the rain.
The Kentucky Derby winner returned to the track for the first time since splashing his way to victory at Churchill Downs, taking a 1-mile jog over a muddy surface at Belmont Park on Wednesday.
With exercise rider Jennifer Patterson aboard, Orb wasn't bothered by the rain, and trainer Shug McGaughey said he was pleased with what he saw. He said "it seems to me all systems are go."
Orb will gallop Thursday, and likely work on Monday before being vanned to Baltimore on Tuesday for the Preakness on May 18.
■ In other Preakness news, trainer D. Wayne Lukas has added a third horse to his lineup with Titletown Five, owned by NFL Hall of Famer Paul Hornung. Lukas also picked his riders for his three Preakness horses — Mike Smith on Will Take Charge, Gary Stevens remains on Oxbow and Julien Leparoux has the call on Titletown Five. Also, John Velazquez replaces Elvis Trujillo aboard Itsmyluckyday, who finished 15th in the Derby.
■ Noted equine surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage has been admitted to a Lexington hospital for observation after his accident at Churchill Downs one week ago, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital posted on its Twitter account Wednesday. Dr. Bramlage was transported to University Hospital in Louisville for observation last Thursday after falling from a golf cart while on the Churchill backstretch and hitting his head. Bramlage was briefly unconscious and remained in the hospital before being released on Monday.
Man U.'s Ferguson retiring after 26 years
Longtime Everton manager David Moyes emerged as the likely successor to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United on Wednesday, despite his limited experience in top-level European football.
Ferguson announced earlier Wednesday he will retire at the end of the season after 26 trophy-filled seasons at Old Trafford. The announcement raised concerns not only over the club's dominance of English soccer but also about its financial future. Almost 27 years after Ferguson took over an underperforming club, Manchester United is back at the top of the English Premier League alongside elite teams Real Madrid and Barcelona.
■ A Utah teen accused of punching a soccer referee who later died was charged Wednesday with homicide by assault, a count issued when an attack unintentionally causes death. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill also said he will seek to try the teen as an adult in the death of 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo. The charge carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison for adults.
Singh sues PGA for deer spray fallout
Vijay Singh sued the PGA Tour on Wednesday for exposing him to "public humiliation and ridicule" during a 12-week investigation into his use of deer antler spray that ended last week when the tour dropped its case against him. The lawsuit was a surprise, and so was the timing — the day before The Players Championship, the flagship event on the PGA Tour held on its home course where Singh has honed his game for the last two decades.
■ Ronde Barber is retiring from the NFL after 16 seasons as a standout defensive back. Barber told Fox Sports.com, "I've had a better run than I ever could've dreamed of having."
Barber, 38, played cornerback for 15 seasons before moving to safety last year. He played his entire career with Tampa Bay, was selected to the Pro Bowl five times and is the franchise leader in interceptions with 47. He also scored eight touchdowns.
Saban to auction off lavish vacation home
Alabama football head coach Nick Saban is auctioning off his vacation home — without reserve — on Lake Burton in Georgia that is currently listed at $10.9 million, according to the Atlanta Business Journal. The house has 700 feet of lake frontage and is super private. It has 9,600 square feet and sits on 1.7 acres of land.
There are six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a wine cellar and a billiards room. Outside, there is a swimming dock and a Cape Cod-style lighthouse with 270-degree views of the lake and mountains.
■ Larry Kehres, who turned Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, into a Division III powerhouse while stockpiling 11 national titles, is stepping down. Kehres, 63, had a remarkable 332-24-3 record in his 27 seasons with the Purple Raiders. His teams were unbeaten in the regular season 21 times. The national championships began in 1993 and ended this past season. His .929 winning percentage in all games is the best ever at the college level. He will continue as Mount Union's athletic director. Kehres did say why he was stepping aside as coach, but he will be replaced by his 37-year-old son Vince.
Gibbs' team penalties greatly reduced
A three-member NASCAR appeals panel has dramatically reduced most of the penalties levied against Joe Gibbs Racing for an illegal part found in Matt Kenseth's race-winning engine at Kansas.
The panel reduced the points deducted from Kenseth from 50 to 12, and reinstated his bonus points earned for the April 21 victory. The race will count toward the Chase and he moves from 11th in the Sprint Cup standings to fourth.
The panel also reduced crew chief Jason Ratcliff's suspension from six races to one race, and eliminated the six-race suspension for owner Joe Gibbs. It let stand Ratcliff's $200,000 fine.
NASCAR found one of eight connecting rods in Kenseth's engine was 3 grams too light. JGR appealed, saying Toyota was responsible.
Ex-Wolverines' 10-year dissociation ends
Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock are eager to reconnect with Michigan. In their first interviews about the Ed Martin booster scandal, both former players told The Associated Press they hope to re-establish a relationship with the university now that a decade-long dissociation ordered by the NCAA has ended.
Taylor and Bullock said they both regret choices they made as young men that ended up staining the school and stunting the basketball program. What about Chris Webber? The public may have to wait for him to publish his book. But as of Wednesday, Webber, Taylor and Bullock all have the option of renewing their relationship with the Wolverines.
Athletic Director Dave Brandon insisted the door is open for all three former players. The NCAA forced Michigan to dissociate from Webber, Taylor, Bullock and the late Robert Traylor for a decade because a federal investigation revealed the now-deceased Martin gave them more than $600,000 when they were students.
"When each one of us took money or gifts from Ed, long before we were in college, we were looking through innocent eyes," Taylor said in an interview Wednesday. "We weren't trying to hurt Michigan. I think it was a little harsh that we were punished for such a long period of time for what we did as kids."
Bullock said he accepted money from Martin because he simply thought everyone was doing it. "When I was 18, I thought that's just how life was on college campuses," Bullock told AP. "I wish it didn't happen, but my parents taught me to admit it when you do something wrong and accept the consequences."
The last word
The women's golfers at North Dakota State will be making their first Division I post-season appearance, winning the Summit League title without having a single practice session outdoors because of brutal weather in North Dakota. Said Coach Matt Johnson:
"It sure would have been nice to get outside, but they understand that's the way it is. They're all from around here so they've done it every year in one way or another."