Baze's family remembers the good times at memorial
Michael Baze was battling depression at the time of his death, although the 24-year-old jockey was remembered for his kindness and warmth even in the competitive environment of the racetrack.Baze's wife, Kelly, mentioned her late husband's depression during a memorial on Thursday at Hollywood Park in Englewood, Calif., where Baze won the riding title in 2007 at age 20, becoming the youngest to win a title at the track since Bill Shoemaker in 1950.
Baze was found dead in his car near the stables at Churchill Downs on May 10. His mother, Teri Gibson, said she was notified by the Jefferson County coroner of her son's cause of death but declined to provide details pending toxicology results expected to be announced Friday.
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"Nobody is perfect," she said after the memorial. "He wasn't perfect, but he was an awesome kid. He was always the little man of the house because there was no father figure."
At the time of his death, Baze was facing a preliminary hearing after being charged with first-degree possession of cocaine last November in Louisville. Gibson said her son had battled depression for several years and had difficulty sleeping since he was a child.
Zenyatta in foal, passes 60-day checkup
Zenyatta, the reigning horse of the year, is in foal to Bernardini, and this time it looks as if it will take. Her first pregnancy ended prematurely. The news came via Zenyatta.com Tuesday, a Web site maintained by Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, racing manager for Zenyatta's owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, as well as the wife of the mare's trainer, John Shirreffs.
"I have had what is technically called my '60-day checkup.' I am happily in foal!" the Web site said.
Zenyatta was first mated to Bernardini, the 2006 3-year-old champion, on Feb. 23, but a 30-day scan in March showed she was no longer in foal. Zenyatta won 19 of 20 races, with her lone defeat against Blame last year in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
■ A horse owned by Queen Elizabeth II is set to start as a favorite in Saturday's English Derby, Britain's richest race with prize money of $2 million. Carlton House has been declared for the 1½ -mile race despite a late scare over swelling in his near-fore leg. He heads a list of 17 runners for the most prestigious of the five classics in Britain's flat-racing season.
■ Javier Castellano shot past Cornelio Velasquez in the Belmont Park jockey standings by winning five races on Thursday. Entering the day two wins behind Velasquez, Castellano swept the first two races with Starsilhouette ($7.50) and Socialsaul ($11.40). Third in race 3 and without a mount in race 4, Castellano took race 5 with Those Lion Eyes ($3.40), part of a favored coupled entry, captured race 6, the $40,000 Peace Emblem starter handicap, with Unaccountable ($6.50), and prevailed in race 7 aboard Who's On the Case ($12.60). Castellano had the chance to break The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) record of six victories in a day, but his mounts in races 8 and 9 finished fifth and third, respectively. Castellano has now won 32 races, three more than Velasquez.
No proof of biting, league says
The Vancouver Canucks don't understand the big fuss about a little bite. Neither did the NHL. Vancouver forward Alex Burrows avoided a suspension in the Stanley Cup finals Thursday when the NHL decided it couldn't prove he bit the finger of Boston's Patrice Bergeron during the Canucks' series-opening 1-0 victory.
"That's how French guys say hello to one another," joked Alexandre Bolduc, who centered the Canucks' fourth line in Game 1. "You want to show respect, you put your fingers in someone's mouth."
■ The opener of the finals drew the best preliminary rating for a Game 1 in 12 years. The Canucks' last-second 1-0 win earned a 3.2 overnight rating and 6 share on NBC on Wednesday. That's up 14 percent from last year's Philadelphia-Chicago Game 1 and the highest since a 3.7 for Buffalo-Dallas in 1999.
Oilers center gives hitcher Bono a ride
Edmonton Oilers center Gilbert Brule stopped this week to pick up a most unlikely hitchhiker — rock star Bono. The U2 frontman and his assistant were walking in West Vancouver, British Columbia, on Tuesday when they got caught in the rain. Fortunately for them, Brule and his girlfriend were driving by, taking their German shepherd to a park. Bono hopped in for a ride. To thank them, he offered Brule and his girlfriend backstage passes for the U2 concert Wednesday night at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium. The couple sold their tickets to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, took a flight back to Edmonton and went to the show with Brule's mom.
"I like people who play ice hockey — they stop for hitchhikers. I know this from experience," Bono told the concert crowd. "... I'm so grateful I've decided I want to be Gilbert Brule."
"We go to walk our dog, and Bono ends up in our car," Brule told the Edmonton Journal. The 24-year-old missed half of this season because of illnesses, intestinal problems, a sprained ankle and a concussion.
Pitchers come up big in CWS first round
After the year of the home run, the shutout is back at the Women's College World Series. Kelsi Dunne threw one-hit ball over six shutout innings, and Kaila Hunt had an RBI single, lifting second-seeded Alabama to a 1-0 victory Thursday against California on opening day in Oklahoma City. Whitney Canion followed with an eight-inning shutout, and Kelsi Kettler hit a game-ending home run just inside the left-field foul pole as Baylor beat Oklahoma State 1-0.
The championship game was a 15-9 slugfest that UCLA won against Arizona — easily the highest scoring game in World Series history. Top-seeded Arizona State got a home run from Katelyn Boyd and a two-run single from Mandy Urfer to beat Oklahoma 3-1 Thursday night and move into the winners' bracket. The Sun Devils (56-6) will face either Florida or Missouri on Friday night, after Alabama faces Baylor. Cal (44-12) faces Oklahoma State (42-19), and Oklahoma plays either Florida or Missouri in elimination games Saturday.
Calhoun won't speculate on future
Connecticut Coach Jim Calhoun is preparing for a charity bicycle ride and a trip to the Caribbean but says he's not ready to decide on his future beyond that. He said he is letting a decision about retirement "evolve" and is not setting a deadline for himself.
"If I'm here on October 15th, I'm here," he said. "You'll know beforehand if I decide to do something different. But I'm not going to set any more dates."
■ Duquesne Coach Ron Everhart withdrew his name from consideration for the same job at Penn State on Thursday. Everhart, 49, who has led the Dukes to four consecutive winning regular seasons and three straight post-season appearances, interviewed with Penn State AD Tim Curley on Tuesday at an undisclosed location.
■ Dalton Pepper, a small forward who played the last two seasons at West Virginia, will transfer to Temple. The 6-foot-5 Pepper will sit out the 2011-12 season per NCAA rules and have two years of eligibility remaining with the Owls. At West Virginia, Pepper played in 62 games, starting once. He averaged 3.5 points and 10.1 minutes per game in helping the Mountaineers to 53 wins and a trip to the 2010 Final Four.
■ The Alaska-Anchorage has revised the men's bracket for the 2011 Great Alaska Shootout. Athletics Director Steve Cobb said Thursday that the hosts will play Murray State, and Dartmouth will play San Francisco on Nov. 23. The Shootout kicks off Nov. 22 with the women's four-team tournament.
The last word
In honor of the retirement of future Hall of Famer and frequent "last word" contributor Shaquille O'Neal, here's one of our favorite quotes from the NBA's version of Yogi Berra. O'Neal was once asked by a reporter whether he visited the Parthenon while in Greece. The Big Aristotle replied:
"I can't really remember the names of the clubs that we went to."