Ex-Derby hopeful Mark Valeski wins Peter Pan at Belmont
Mark Valeski rallied to beat Right to Vote by 11/4 lengths in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park.
Trainer Larry Jones and owner Brereton C. Jones had initially planned to run the colt in the Kentucky Derby. They decided on the Tuesday of Derby week that Mark Valeski wasn't as sharp as they would like, so the Derby was out, and the Peter Pan became the plan.
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It worked to perfection.
Laying off a blazing pace set by 47-1 Right to Vote, Mark Valeski rallied four wide at the top of the lane for his third win in six starts and first stakes victory. Now the next decision centers on running in the Belmont Stakes on June 9.
"We're sure going to look at the Belmont," Larry Jones said. "It sure looked like he handled this track well."
Mark Valeski paid $4.70, $3.30 and $2.80 as the 6-5 favorite with Rosie Napravnik aboard. Street Life was third.
■ Undefeated Black Caviar romped to her 21st straight victory in her final race before heading to England for the Royal Ascot. Ridden by Luke Nolen, Black Caviar had an effortless run in the 1,200-meter Goodwood Stakes at Morphettville in Australia, slowing down approaching the post for a one-length victory.
■ Ponzi Scheme drew off in the stretch to win the $75,000 Decathlon Stakes on opening day at Monmouth Park, a race that was marred by a spill on the far turn involving five of the eight horses. Track officials said all the horses and jockeys involved in the spill escaped serious injury. But one jockey, Angel Serpa, was taken to a hospital for precautionary X-rays of his right shoulder.
Ridden by Elvis Trujillo, who won four races on the day, Ponzi Scheme ran 6 furlongs in 1:10 over a fast track. Trained by Juan Serey, the 5-year-old gelding beat Flat Bold by 23/4 lengths, while Soaring Stocks was 11/2 lengths farther back in third. They were the only three horses to complete the race.
■ Arcadius collapsed and died as he was being cooled down after winning the $150,000 Iroquois Steeplechase at Percy Warner Park in Nashville. The 8-year-old gelding collapsed at a station placed just beyond the finish line of the 3-mile race. Dr. Marty McInturff, one of five official veterinarians on the course, said Arcadius succumbed from "a heart attack" and a possible aneurysm. The results of a necropsy examination are expected Monday at the earliest.
■ Drill beat American Act by a half-length in the $98,000 Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park. Ridden by Martin Garcia, Drill ran 7 furlongs on the synthetic Cushion Track in 1:22.98 and paid $4.40 and $2.80 as the 6-5 favorite for trainer Bob Baffert.
Paddy O'Prado recovering from surgery
Grade I winner Paddy O'Prado, who's standing his first season at stud at B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm, was doing well Saturday after having colic surgery late Friday at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington. A full recovery is expected for the 5-year-old son of El Prado.
"We feel fortunate to have discovered the issue quickly," said Ned Toffey, Spendthrift's general manager. "Paddy O'Prado is obviously a high-class individual in many ways, and he handled it all like the champ that he is."
Evans gives UK another SEC discus title
Kentucky's Andrew Evans, a sophomore from Portage, Mich., won the men's discus title at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday. Evans' throw covered 181 feet, nine inches.
It was the fifth straight year the Cats have won the event.
"It means a lot to me," said Evans about continuing Kentucky's streak of discus championships. "I want to continue that for the next two or three years with myself and Isiah (Kent)."
Evans said it felt good to contribute to the UK's points total.
"That's good because I was kind of upset yesterday I didn't get any points in the hammer with a ninth-place finish," Evans said. "I'm just glad I could make up for it with a first place (in the discus)."
With one day remaining in the championships, Kentucky's men's team is fifth with 24 points. The women's team is 11th with 41/2.
Junior distance runner Luis Orta was second in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase with a career-best time of 8:45.77.
Senior thrower Jennifer Svoboda was fifth in the women's shot put with a mark of 49 feet, 1.75 inches.
■ The Kentucky women's golf team's season ended after a 17th-place finish in the NCAA Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio.
James wins his third NBA MVP award
LeBron James was named the NBA's MVP for the third time.
The Miami Heat forward became the eighth player in league history to win the award three times.
"This is very overwhelming to me as an individual award. But this is not the award I want, ultimately," James said. "I want that championship. That's all that matters to me."
The other winners of at least three MVP awards are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone. Abdul-Jabbar won six times, Jordan and Russell five times each, Chamberlain four times. Now, they're the only players with more than James.
James received 85 of a possible 121 first-place votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the league, as well as one collective fan vote on NBA.com. He finished with 1,074 points, topping Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (889 points, 24 first-place votes).
Rondo gets his 8th playoff triple-double
Kevin Garnett scored 29 points — his most in the regular- or post-season this year — and added 11 rebounds on Saturday night to give the Boston Celtics a 92-91 victory over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Rajon Rondo had 17 assists, 13 points and 12 rebounds for his eighth career playoff triple-double. He ran the length of the court to receive the inbounds pass and dribble out the final 3.4 seconds of the game. Rondo was 6-for-15 from the floor, but he was 3-for-6 in the fourth quarter, adding five rebounds and four assists.
Game 2 is Monday night in Boston before the series shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4.
Andre Iguodala scored 19 points and Evan Turner had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers.
Rangers win Game 7, eliminate Capitals
Brad Richards and Michael Del Zotto scored, Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves, and the New York Rangers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with a 2-1 victory in Game 7 over the visiting Washington Capitals.
Richards scored less than two minutes in, and Del Zotto doubled the lead in the third period to help the top-seeded Rangers improve to 5-0 in Game 7s at Madison Square Garden. That set up a matchup with the New Jersey Devils, the team the Rangers beat in the 1994 conference finals en route to their first Stanley Cup title in 54 years.
That series will open Monday in New York.
The last word
When the NBA's MVP results were announced Saturday, Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant found himself in a familiar spot: second. Just the seventh player to win three straight scoring titles, Durant ended up behind Miami's LeBron James. It was the second time in the last three years that Durant finished second in the voting, both times beaten by James. Durant said:
"I've been second since high school, man. Second drafted. Second-best player in high school. Second in the MVP votes twice. I'm over that being second stuff."