Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 17th 2015 Contents A46
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt May 17, 2015
BALTIMORE---American Pharoah has Bob
Baffert back in the Triple Crown groove.
With thunder rumbling and rain pouring
down, Kentucky Derby winner American
Pharoah took the lead early and easily won
the Preakness Stakes yesterday.
The brilliant three-year-old colt was never
seriously challenged after shaking off long-
shot Mr. Z early to win by seven lengths
and set up the ultimate drama in racing---
a Triple Crown attempt at the Belmont
Stakes in three weeks in New York.
"Great horses do great things," Baffert
said after his sixth Preakness victory, "and
he showed that today."
American Pharoah, who started from the
rail under Victor Espinoza, will be 14th Derby-
Preakness winner to take a shot at becoming
the first to sweep the Derby, Preakness and
Belmont since Affirmed in 1978.
For Baffert, he ll be taking an unprece-
dented fourth shot at racing s most coveted
prize. The trainer won the Derby and Preak-
ness with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet
in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002. All three
fell short in the Belmont.
A rainstorm began about 15 minutes before
the race went off, preceded by several light-
ning bolts, but it didn t seem to affect Amer-
ican Pharoah. The colt, who has cotton
placed in his ears to keep him calm, dealt
with similar conditions in winning the Rebel
Stakes in March.
American Pharoah thrived in the sloppy
conditions, and made it look like a breeze
for Espinoza, the first jockey to have a third
try at a Triple Crown. Espinoza won the
first two legs with War Emblem in 2002
and California Chrome last year, but fell
short in the Belmont.
"I always told everybody American
Pharoah would show up today," owner
Ahmed Zayat said, drenched after his trip
to the winner s circle. "Indeed he did. He
is the real deal."
And going into the 1 1/2-mile Belmont
with a six-race winning streak. American
Pharoah s margin of victory in the 1 3-16th-
mile Preakness was the largest since Smarty
Jones won by a record 11 1/2 lengths in
Tale of Verve was a distant second, fol-
lowed by Divining Rod, Dortmund, Mr Z,
Danzig Moon, Firing Line and Bodhisattva.
The winning time was a slow 1:58.46.
American Pharoah was sent off as the 4-
5 favorite and returned $3.80, $3.40 and
$2.80. Tale of Verve, who came into the
race off a maiden win, returned $19 and
$8.80, and Divining Rod paid $5.20.
"It went very well," Espinoza said. "He
bounced out of there. He broke a little bit
slow and I pushed him to the front." (AP)
ROME---Roger Federer will renew his rivalry
with Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final
today, giving the 17-time Grand Slam cham-
pion another chance to add an elusive title
to his collection.
Federer dispatched Swiss countryman Stan
Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2 in less than an hour in the
semifinals yesterday, while the top-ranked
Djokovic delivered his best performance of the
week, downing David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4.
Along with Monte Carlo, Rome is one of
only two Masters series titles that Federer has
"I just like winning a title. Now OK, this is
Rome, and it s one I ve never won so you might
think it s extra special but for some reason it s
not for me," Federer said.
In women s action, Maria Sharapova reached
the final by overpowering qualifier Daria
Gavrilova 7-5, 6-3 in an all-Russian matchup.
Sharapova will play for her third Rome title
against Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who
fought through her nerves and rallied past sec-
ond-seeded Simona Halep 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.
This is the last big warmup for the French
Open, which starts next weekend.
Federer fell behind 3-0 at the start of the
evening match but then won three straight
games, broke to take a 5-4 lead, and rolled on.
The only truly worrisome moment for him
came midway through the first set when his
feet got stuck in a hole on the court that gave
Djokovic and Sharapova trouble earlier in the
day. Federer was wrong-footed when Wawrinka
hit behind him and couldn t turn around.
Workers came onto the court during the
middle of the game to smooth the clay over.
"I hope they can fix it to some extent for
tomorrow," Federer said. "But even if they don t,
we ll get through it."
Wawrinka put on an impressive performance
to beat Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and
didn t have much energy left.
"I wasn t there today unfortunately and,
against Roger, when you re not 100 per cent
and don t feel good, it can be really fast," he
Federer had 18 winners to Wawrinka s 14,
and won 12 of 14 points at the net.
This will be Federer s fourth final at the Foro
Italico in 15 appearances: He was beaten by
Felix Mantilla in 2003, by Nadal in a fifth-set
tiebreaker in 2006, and by Nadal again in 2013.
Djokovic lost a set in each of his three pre-
vious matches this week, looking rusty from
three weeks off. But he was solid from the start
against Ferrer, using one break in each set to
take control and extend his winning streak to
Djokovic s only complaint concerned the
Seeking his third Rome title, and second
straight, Djokovic will take a 20-18 edge in the
career series with Federer into the final. They
split their two meetings this year, both on hard
Sharapova hit 27 winners to Gavrilova s ten
and recovered a break early in the second set.
Aiming for her second career title, Suarez
Navarro improved to 4-0 in her career against
Halep on clay. She created trouble for the
Romanian with her one-handed backhand and
Suarez Navarro needed seven set points to
close out the second set and three to end the
third. The match lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours.
CHARLOTTE---When Rory McIlroy rolled
in an 8-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole,
he started thinking about shooting 59.
He didn t quite get there yesterday, settling
for an 11-under 61 to break the Quail Hollow
record and take a four-shot lead in the Wells
After making nine birdies in a 10-hole
stretch, the top-ranked McIlroy pushed his
7-iron on the par-3 17th hole to the right
side of the green 40 feet from the cup. He
settled for par and the dream was dashed.
"I was little disappointed with not fin-
ishing it off the way I wanted to, but still
it was a great run," McIlroy said.
It was McIlroy s best round on the PGA
Tour, but not his best ever.
hole at The Bear s Club in Jupiter, Florida,
leading up to the Masters, but missed it.
"I left it short," McIlroy said with a laugh.
He didn t leave much short Saturday.
He started the balmy afternoon three
shots behind Webb Simpson and Robert
But after two pars to start the day made
five birdies on the front nine for a 31. He
didn t let up on the back, birdieing six of
the first seven holes.
McIlroy had a sense early on this could
be his day to go low after he saw Justin
Thomas shoot a 65 and a few others go low
in the morning.
That included driving the green on the
345-yard, par-4 14th hole for the fourth
time in his career --- more than any player
in tournament history.
McIlroy is looking to become the first
two-time winner of the event. At 18-under
198, he s on pace to shatter the tournament
record of 16 under set by Anthony Kim in
McIlroy said the Quail Hollow course sets
up perfectly for him, which is why he decid-
ed to play the event after some debate.
to renew rivalry in
Italian Open final
romps in Preakness
...Triple Crown try next
McIlroy sets course record with 61
American Pharoah, ridden by Victor Espinoza, centre, celebrates after winning the 140th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race
Course, yesterday, in Baltimore. AP PHOTO
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