▪ The Kentucky Derby is five weeks from Saturday — Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes is a week from this Saturday — and the most important prep this weekend, the Florida Derby, features a battle of the unbeaten.
Mohaymen won the Fountain of Youth back on Feb. 27. The son of Tapit is trained by Lexington’s own Kiaran McLaughlin. Nyquist won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland. The son of Uncle Mo is trained by Doug O’Neill, who won the 2012 Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another.
My pick: Nyquist has had just one start since the Juvenile; a win in the San Vicente on Feb. 15. I’ll go with Mohaymen, who in addition to winning the Fountain of Youth, took the Holy Bull on Jan. 30.
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▪ Kentucky softball has a huge weekend at John Cropp Stadium. The No. 12 Cats (31-5) entertain third-ranked Auburn, starting at 6 p.m. on Friday. The two teams also play at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
▪ Of all the basketball players I covered this season, the most fun to watch was Washington’s Chantel Osahor last Friday night when the Huskies upset No. 3 seed Kentucky in the NCAA Women’s Tournament. These days, there are too many athletes who don’t know how to play basketball. While not particularly athletic, Osahor knows how to play basketball.
On offense, she hung around the top of the key, where she made great passes and hit flat-footed, line-drive three pointers. On defense, she played under the basket in Mike Neighbors’ 2-3 zone.
Against Kentucky, Oshaor had 19 points and 17 rebounds. In Saturday’s region finals win over Stanford, Osahor scored 25 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. She was named Most Outstanding Player of the regional.
▪ No. 1 seed Notre Dame’s loss to No. 4 Stanford on Friday night in Rupp Arena had to put a little more sting into UK’s loss to No. 7 Washington.
▪ Happy trails to Calvin Borel, the legendary three-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey, who announced his retirement Wednesday. May Calvin always get a clean trip.
▪ It says here Western Kentucky basketball made a smart hire in Rick Stansbury.
▪ The website Fangraphs recently ranked MLB starting rotations heading into the 2016 season. The Reds ranked 20th out of 30 teams, but did get this ray of hope from author August Fagerstrom, “If I had to pick a bottom-half rotation to finish the year in the Top 10, it’d be this one.”
▪ I hit on two of my Final Four picks — North Carolina and Oklahoma — so take these weekend predictions with a healthy grain of salt: Oklahoma over Villanova; North Carolina over Syracuse; North Carolina over Oklahoma.
▪ Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech are each in the market for a new basketball coach and are similar jobs. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
▪ After four Final Four appearances in the last five years under John Calipari, Kentucky had pulled within one of North Carolina for the most trips. Alas, the Heels are making their 19th trip this weekend. UCLA is at 18, not including the vacated 1980 trip. Kentucky is at 17. Duke is at 16.
▪ Let me take this opportunity to answer many of my e-mails at once: No, I do not know when the NCAA will render a decision on North Carolina’s academic scandal.
▪ In 1992, after the Christian Laettner shot, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski got on the air with the legendary Cawood Ledford to express to UK’s fans how well Rick Pitino’s team had played that afternoon and congratulate Ledford on his career. It was Ledford’s final game.
Coach K has acted with class plenty of times after losses and wins, so he deserves a pass on the Dillon Brooks episode — Krzyzewski reprimanded the Oregon player for taking a rub-it-in three pointer — in last week’s West Region semifinal.