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National

  • California Chrome will be the favorite at Preakness Stakes

    BALTIMORE (AP) — Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome was made the odds-on favorite at 3-5 on Wednesday for the Preakness Stakes, and he drew an inside post position in the 10-horse field that includes a filly for the first time in five years.
    Trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome will break from the No. 3 post, which has produced 10 winners in the previous 138 runnings of the 1 3/16-mile race, the last being Prairie Bayou in 1993.
    “Three is fine with me,” Sherman said. “Most of the speed is on the outside of me. If they go, they go, I can tuck in right behind them without any problems. I think my horse will perform.”
    So does California Chrome’s co-owner Steve Coburn, who dared to look ahead.
    “One race at a time,” he said, “but I’m still thinking Triple Crown.”
    If California Chrome wins on Saturday, next up would be the Belmont Stakes on June 7. Only 11 horses have swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont and none since 1978.
    California Chrome brings a five-race winning streak into the Preakness, having won that many by a combined 26 lengths. Still, his overwhelming odds surprised Sherman, a 77-year-old trainer who has never had a colt this good.

  • Still much to be done before World Cup

    SAO PAULO (AP) — It’s all coming down to the final 30 days.
    Brazil had seven years to get ready for the World Cup, but it enters the final month of preparations with a lot yet to be done.
    Three stadiums are still under construction, some of the temporary structures needed for matches are delayed and it remains unclear if all cities will have time to organize the mandatory fanfests.
    It’s already known that not all infrastructure will be completed no matter how much organizers rush before the June 12 opener. The government acknowledges that communications inside stadiums won’t be perfect, unfinished airports remain a concern and there are widespread threats of violent protests by Brazilians complaining about the billions of dollars spent to organize the tournament.
    Brazilian officials guarantee everything will be fine. FIFA remains concerned.
    “Everything will be in place for the World Cup in Brazil to be a success,” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Tuesday. “The stadiums will be ready, the airports will be ready, we are guaranteeing public safety.”
    Jerome Valcke, secretary general for soccer’s governing body, says there’s no time to waste.
    “I would not say it’s not ready, but it’s not finished,” he said recently.

  • Boston behind Derby horse Wicked Strong

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Wicked Strong has a built-in fan base for the Kentucky Derby. Like the entire city of Boston.
    The colt named in honor of the victims of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings figures to be among the favorites for Saturday’s race. He’s got the credentials, having impressively won the Wood Memorial at 9-1 odds.
    Wicked Strong is owned by a Boston-based partnership that has pledged to donate 5 percent of any money won by the bay colt during the Triple Crown series to the fund set up for the bombing victims.
    “It’s a neat thing,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. “Might be an extra force that will help us, if you believe in that kind of stuff.”
    Does Jerkens?
    “Sometimes you do,” he replied. “Things seem to happen like that for some unexplained reason.”
    Wicked Strong began racing with the name Moyne Spun. Donald Little Jr., who heads the Centennial Farms partnership, didn’t like that moniker and decided to rename the horse with the marathon bombings in mind.
    His first thought was Boston Strong, but the name was already taken. So the new name became Wicked Strong — giving it a linguistic Boston twist.

  • Clippers win hours after Sterling decision

     LOS ANGELES (AP) — Several hours after owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life, the Los Angeles Clippers sprinted and soared through a playoff game as if a weight had been lifted from their collective shoulders.
    The Clippers finished a tumultuous day with a 113-103 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, leaving their home court to high-fives and standing ovations from fans enthralled by the prospect of watching an NBA title chase without Sterling in his front-row seat.
    “We have a tough locker room, all of us are tough, but it almost brought out tears to your eyes just to feel the support from the fans,” said Chris Paul, the Clippers’ star point guard.
    NBA Commissioner Adam Silver delivered the extraordinary punishment to Sterling after a recording of racist statements by the real-estate mogul was made public several days ago.
    The ban is one of the harshest penalties in the history of U.S. sports, but was met with near-universal acclaim from fellow owners, civil rights observers and NBA players who strongly contemplated a playoff boycott if Sterling wasn’t punished harshly.

  • NBA bans Sterling for life

    NEW YORK (AP) — Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life by the NBA in response to racist comments the league says he made in a recorded conversation.

    Commissioner Adam Silver said he will try to force the controversial owner to sell his franchise. Sterling has also been fined $2.5 million, and Silver made no effort to hide his outrage over the comments.

    "I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners I need to remove him," Silver said.

    The rebuke, which came three days after the scandal broke, is the harshest penalty ever issued by the league and one of the stiffest punishments ever given to an owner in professional sports. Silver said a league investigation found the NBA's longest-tenured owner was in fact the person on the audiotapes that were released over the weekend.

    "We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA."

    Sterling acknowledged he was the man on the tape, Silver said.

    Sterling is immediately barred from attending any NBA games or practices, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team.

  • Pineda says he's learned his lesson

    BOSTON (AP) — The pine tar glistened on Michael Pineda’s neck, improving his grip and inviting trouble.
    He got both.
    The Yankees’ right-hander spoke quietly after being ejected in the second inning of the Red Sox’ 5-1 win over New York on Wednesday night. And less than two weeks after appearing to get away with using a foreign substance in another game against Boston, he vowed never to do it again.
    “I’ll learn from this mistake,” a contrite Pineda said. “It won’t happen again.”
    Pineda said he had trouble gripping the ball on the cool evening when he allowed two runs in the first inning. So before he took the mound for the second, he said, he rubbed pine tar on the right side of his neck.
    “I don’t feel the ball,” he said. “I don’t want to hit anybody.”
    One small problem: Rule 8.02(b). Written to keep pitchers from altering the ball to gain an unfair advantage, it prohibits them from having a foreign substance on them or in their possession on the mound and says that they’ll be suspended if they do.

  • Pujols slams 500th home run Tuesday

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Albert Pujols smiled as he explained why he felt the need to apologize to his wife for hitting homer No. 500 so quickly after No. 499.
    She had planned to be there in person once he got within one of the milestone.
    He didn’t give her the chance.
    Pujols became the first major leaguer to get his 499th and 500th homers in the same game, connecting twice Tuesday night and driving in five runs in the Los Angeles Angels’ 7-2 victory over the Washington Nationals. He’s the 26th player in big league history to reach 500.
    “I went and made a phone call and I called her, and she was doing her nails. And everybody in the salon, I guess, was telling her, ‘Congratulations!’ And she was like, ‘Did you just hit your 500th?’ I was like, ‘I’m sorry,’” Pujols said with a laugh.
    “She would have loved to be here with my kids and my family. She drives me every day to try to be a better person, a better player,” he added. “I would have loved to share this moment with her here.”
    Hitting like the Pujols of old, the three-time NL MVP delivered a three-run homer in the first inning and two-run drive in the fifth, both off Taylor Jordan (0-3).

  • Avs win in overtime

    DENVER (AP) — Patrick Roy showed as much boldness behind the bench as he once did as a Hall of Fame goaltender.
    The first-year Colorado coach made some daring moves late in the game — like pulling his goaltender with 3:01 remaining — and yet the ploy worked out.
    It’s been that kind of season for Roy and his youthful squad.
    Paul Stastny scored 7:27 into overtime after tying the game with 13.4 seconds remaining in regulation, lifting the Avalanche to a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild in the opener of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Thursday night.
    “We believe in ourselves,” said Roy, who won two Stanley Cup titles for the Avalanche as a player and helped guide the team back to the playoffs for the first time in four years.
    “Sometimes, you’re not playing your best game, but the quality of our team is we found a way to win this game. That’s what you want in the playoffs.”
    Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn also added goals for Colorado.
    Stastny beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a close-in wrist shot in overtime, the same type of play Stastny used to tie the game in regulation.
    Not that the Avalanche were too surprised by the late rally because, “we’ve done it all year,” Stastny said.

  • Baseball honors Jackie Robinson

    NEW YORK (AP) — Marking the 67th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, the Rev. Jesse Jackson praised Commissioner Bud Selig for the strides the sport has taken in minority opportunities over the past two decades.
    Jackson traveled to baseball's 1992 winter meetings to criticize its lack of minorities in management, and he pushed for change.
    Selig retired Robinson's No. 42 in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of the big league debut of the Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman. Selig established a Diverse Business Partners program the following year and in 1999 started requiring clubs to consider at least one minority for each manager and major executive opening. MLB also sponsors 35 Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars.
    Jackson said Jackie Robinson Day had become "a national holiday for all practical purposes."
    "To honor Jackie in this way honors the best in America," Jackson told Selig on Tuesday at MLB's third Diversity Business Summit. "In many ways, had Jackie not succeeded you could not have Atlanta Falcons or the Braves or the Carolina Panthers. You could not have these southern teams if Jackie had failed."

  • Masters champ Scott digs his role

    AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — For some, the burden of defending a championship can be overwhelming.
    For Adam Scott, it was pure joy — at least for a day.
    With a green jacket already in his collection, Scott felt a sense of calm that carried over to the golf course. The result: a 3-under 69 that got the laid-back Aussie off to just the kind of start he was looking for at the Masters.
    Now, to keep it going for three more days.
    “Having won last year, in some ways, has taken a little pressure off me,” Scott said. “I kind of felt like what was the worst than can happen? I’m still going to be a Masters champion.”
    Bill Haas was leading a major for the first time, shooting a 68 Thursday that left him one stroke ahead of the last guy to win the Masters (Scott), the guy who won it two years ago (Bubba Watson), and the guy Watson beat in a playoff (Louis Oosthuizen).
    On a warm, sunny morning, Kevin Streelman had a couple of early birdies to crack the second-round leaderboard Friday. Oosthuizen stumbled a bit with a bogey on the fourth hole, while Watson was getting ready to tee off. Haas and Scott have afternoon tee times.