Shots in the Darke

The 149th edition of the Run for the Roses, the Kentucky Derby, was won by Mage, a 15-1 odds pick, in a closing charge down the stretch in front of over 150,000 fans, some who were dressed in Derby Day finery, others who had partaken of a few too many mint juleps! 

Offsetting the triumph of Mage was the late scratch of early favorite Forte and the euthanization of two horses injured in earlier races on the undercard at Churchill Downs, the sixth and seventh thoroughbreds to die in recent days at the historic Twin Spires facility. I’m not sure how these unfortunate injuries occur nor does it appear that equine experts have any answers either. Regardless, horse racing’s greatest spectacle lived up to its billing with a great stretch dual and all of the hoopla that surrounds the day! 

Here’s today’s trivia question and I’ll even spot you part of the answer—there have been five  Triple Crown winners (the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont) since 1973 beginning with the great  Secretariat—can you name three of the other four? 

In the “What have you done for me lately” category, the Milwaukee Bucks fired Coach Mike Budenholzer after five seasons. Budenholzer had a regular season record of 272-120 and directed the Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years, winning the championship in 2021.  Without the services of the great Giannis Antetokounmpo (spell that without looking it up!) for  two games, the top-seeds fell in the first round of this year’s playoffs to the eight-seed Miami  Heat. Evidently the powers that be in Wisconsin think they can find a better coach elsewhere! 

Time for a quick update on high school baseball and softball as tournament play begins this week and next. In the Miami Valley League Troy has clinched the Miami division with a 15-1 mark (the only loss being at the hands of Greenville in the first week of the season) while Butler and Piqua stand 12-3. GHS, after a fast 5-1 start, has fallen on hard times losing 12 straight.  In the Valley division, Sidney and Xenia share the top spot at 10-7. 

Softball finds the Lady Wave of Greenville winning yet another league championship in the Miami division with a 16-1 record while Fairborn claimed Valley honors at 16-2. GHS starts down the tourney trail hosting Belmont Tuesday in D-II play. 

In Western Ohio Athletic Conference action, the Lady Trojans of Arcanum took home the trophy in softball with a perfect league mark of 10-0. It’s been quite a spring on the diamonds in that part of Darke County as the Trojans baseball team hosts Newton (both with identical 9-1 WOAC records) Tuesday for league bragging rights. 

Up north, St. Henry has an impressive three game lead in MAC baseball play with a perfect 8-0 ledger (16-2 overall). Coldwater, Minster, St. John’s, and Versailles all stand 5-3 in the league. Meanwhile, Parkway holds a slim lead in softball standings at 6-1, while Minster at 5-1, Versailles at 5-2 and New Bremen at 4-2 can still have a say in the final rankings. 

Are you like me and are glad that the Aaron Rodgers saga has finally come to a close with his signing with the New York Jets? I’ve gotten tired of listening to his pontificating about just about everything!

Here’s a reminder about overextending your reach—a Phillies fan tumbled over the railing, falling twenty feet into the bullpen to grab a baseball, delaying the Red Sox game for ten minutes while being taken away by EMS units. Safer to just buy a baseball at a sporting goods store or on-line! 

My hometown team, the Cardinals (yes, I was born in St. Louis), have gotten off to a terrible start this spring in the NL Central, going 10-24. Lousy pitching and poor execution of fundamentals have plagued the Redbirds and reminded me of one of the great sports quotes of all-time. As the coach of the NFL expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 John McKay (a tremendous college coach at USC) when asked, after yet another loss in an 0-14 season, about his team’s execution replied “I’m all in favor of it!”.  

Other Triple Crown winners were Seattle Slew in ‘77; Affirmed in ‘78; American Pharoah in  ‘15; and Justify in ‘18. How great was Secretariat? He still holds the track records for all three legs of the Crown, even after 50 years!! At his passing in 1989 at the age of 19, an autopsy revealed that where average thoroughbreds have a heart weighing 8-9 pounds his was an amazing 22 pounds, a powerful engine leading to historical racing prowess! 

Finally, Kathy and I just returned from a few days in Gatlinburg, meeting good friends in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It had been quite a few years since we’d been there and once again Mother Nature continues to impress. While there we spent most of a day at Dollywood, our first experience at the popular park. Kathy and friends enjoyed the shows and overall atmosphere while I took the opportunity to satisfy my “need for speed” on some of the coasters. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I was the oldest rider every time by at least twenty years. Just a kid at heart!! Have a great week!