John Clay

Classic Empire’s disappointing 2017 debut and more random notes

Classic Empire, shown here winning the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last fall, finished 8 3/4 lengths behind the winner in Saturday’s Holy Bull Stakes. “He had no excuse, none whatsoever,” trainer Mark Casse told the Miami Herald.
Classic Empire, shown here winning the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last fall, finished 8 3/4 lengths behind the winner in Saturday’s Holy Bull Stakes. “He had no excuse, none whatsoever,” trainer Mark Casse told the Miami Herald.

Random notes:

▪  The weekend’s biggest Thoroughbred mystery is what happened to Classic Empire? The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champion ran an uninspired third in the Holy Bull Stakes, won by Irish War Cry. Was rust a factor? Did he expend too much energy before the race? Trainer Mark Casse isn’t sure yet where Empire will run next.

▪  Without suspended players Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang, Louisville played a terrific first half Monday night at Virginia then let go of the rope in the second half of the 71-55 loss. But then we shouldn’t use a John Calipari term in referring to a Rick Pitino team.

▪  Silver lining in the Louisville loss: Freshman V.J. King scored a career-high 24 points.

▪  The secret to Tom Brady’s success? He goes to bed at 8:30 each night.

▪  As great as Brady was in bringing the Patriots back in the Super Bowl, New England doesn’t win the game without that circus catch by Julian Edelman.

▪  Talking to Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin on Saturday night in Gainesville, the former UK associate AD raved about Kentucky’s new football training facility.

▪  DeMarcus Cousins picked up his 16th technical of the season on Monday night, prompting an automatic one-game suspension. Heard ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz say on a recent Zach Lowe podcast that Boogie is an emotional drain on the Kings, but he’s just too talented to trade away.

▪  Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal both said Monday night on TNT that John Wall is the best point guard in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

▪  After Kansas beat Kansas State 74-71 Monday night in Manhattan, Jayhawks Coach Bill Self credited the K-State crowd, which repeatedly chanted “(Obscenity) Kansas!” during the game, for helping Kansas win.

▪  Speaking of Kansas, it was nice to see ex-UK assistant David Hobbs on the Iowa State bench when the Cyclones snapped the Jayhawks’ 51-game home winning streak Saturday. Hobbs is an assistant under ISU coach Steve Prohm, who was a manager when Hobbs was the head coach at Alabama.

▪  ESPN can pump Thursday’s North Carolina-Duke clash all it wants, but Oregon at UCLA later that night should be the much better game.

▪  Props to Morehead State, which despite having head coach Sean Woods fired in-season, is 7-3 in the OVC.

▪  Props to UK for pulling out all the stops for Brent Musburger’s departure from ESPN last week. Musburger was the play-by-play man for Kentucky-Georgia, his final assignment before leaving the Worldwide Leader for a Las Vegas startup. UK presented Brent with a framed jersey and, more important, honored him as the “Y” in the K-e-n-t-u-c-k-y cheer.

▪  Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan has 20 double-doubles in 24 games this season. No other D-I player has more than 18.

▪  This is the best team Mick Cronin has had in 11 seasons at Cincinnati. The Bearcats have won 14 straight games and are the lone team unbeaten in the American Athletic Conference.

▪  Prediction: Indiana will not make the NCAA Tournament.

▪  Two weeks ago, new UK quarterback Danny Clark, a January enrollee and former Ohio State commit from Columbus, said the large Ohio State tattoo on his right arm was not a big deal. Now Clark has posted a picture on Instagram showing he had the tattoo covered up with the tattoo of a lion’s face.

▪  Going into Tuesday night’s play, South Carolina was at the top of the SEC standings in both men’s and women’s basketball.

▪  Mike Krzyzewski said he almost cried at the start of his first game on the Duke bench after returning from back surgery.

▪  When Oregon played Auburn in the 2011 BCS national championship game, what were the odds that six years later Chip Kelly would not have a job in either college or the NFL?

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