Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality and runner-up Mandaloun will not run against Medina Spirit in the Preakness, trainer Brad Cox said Thursday. Cox said he’ll skip the second jewel of the Triple Crown with those two horses and Caddo River, who was scratched from the Derby for spiking a fever. Mandaloun finished a half length back of Medina Spirit as a 27-1 long shot, while Essential Quality was fourth after going off as the 3-1 Derby favorite. The Travers Stakes in August at Saratoga Race Course is the new target for Essential Quality, who fell short of being the first gray horse to win the Derby since Giacomo in 2005. Cox said Caddo River, who has early speed and was expected to challenge Medina Spirit out of the gate in the Preakness, will be pointed to the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs May 29.
Rangers fined $250k for demeaning comments
The Rangers in less than 72 hours lost their best player to injury, fired their president and general manager, and likely will see another player suspended. They are also out a quarter-million dollars in the latest chaotic chapter for the storied franchise. The NHL fined the Rangers an extraordinary $250,000 for what commissioner Gary Bettman called demeaning personal comments made publicly about head of player safety George Parros. It’s believed to be the largest publicly announced fine of its kind in NHL history. “While we don’t expect our clubs to agree with every decision rendered by the department of player safety, the extent to which the Rangers expressed their disagreement was unacceptable,” Bettman said. “It is terribly unfair to question George Parros’s professionalism and dedication to his role and the department of player safety.” The uproar dates to Monday, when Washington’s Tom Wilson was involved in a scrum against the Rangers that left New York star Artemi Panarin injured and unable to finish the final three games of the season. Wilson was fined $5,000 for roughing against Pavel Buchnevich but not suspended, prompting the Rangers to issue a statement calling the decision a dereliction of duty and saying Parros was unfit to remain in his job. Playing two nights after Wilson threw Panarin to the ice, the Rangers and Capitals racked up a combined 141 penalty minutes in a fight-filled game Wednesday night. The six fights in the first five minutes were the most of any game in league history.
IOC strikes deal to get athletes vaccinated
The International Olympic Committee said it had struck deals with two companies for coronavirus vaccine doses that will allow a significant proportion of athletes and officials traveling to the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer the opportunity to be vaccinated before they arrive in Japan. The committee announced the agreements with the companies, Pfizer and BioNTech, to distribute donated doses of the vaccine to Olympic and Paralympic Games participants in their home countries, where they would be administered by local officials and through domestic vaccination programs. The effort is the latest attempt by Olympic officials and Japanese organizers to assuage the concerns of a skeptical Japanese public that has consistently told pollsters that it does not want the Games to take place during the pandemic. Only about 1 percent of the Japanese public is currently fully vaccinated, and several areas, including Tokyo, are under restrictions that have closed restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses … Tamara Press, a three-time Olympic champion from the Soviet Union who withdrew from international competition amid speculation and jibes about her gender, died. She was 83. Press won gold in the shot put and silver in the discus at the 1960 Rome Olympics, and gold in both events four years later at the 1964 Tokyo Games. Her sister, Irina Press, won Olympic gold in the 80-meter hurdles in 1960 and the pentathlon in 1964. Irina Press died in 2004. Both sisters were subjected to comments and mockery in the United States and elsewhere about what some observers considered their masculine physiques.
Pacers suspend assistant, fine player for argument
The Pacers are suspending assistant coach Greg Foster for one game and fining center Goga Bitadze an undisclosed for an argument they had during a loss to Sacramento. The third-quarter incident Wednesday began after Bitadze allowed Maurice Harkless to grab a rebound and score on a dunk, which prompted Foster to scold Bitadze for his effort. When Bitadze answered by making a 3-pointer, he appeared to curse at Foster. Finally, when play stopped with 2:26 to go, a heated exchange between the two occurred and another player intervened to prevent it from escalating.
US women to play five-match Summer Series
The US women’s national team will play Portugal, Jamaica and Nigeria during a five-match Summer Series next month in Texas. US coach Vlatko Andonovski will use the matches as a final evaluation before he names an 18-player Olympic roster. The United States also plans to play two as-yet unannounced Tokyo sendoff matches in July.
Mayweather, 44, to fight exhibition
At age 44, Floyd Mayweather is returning to the ring for an exhibition fight. The boxing Hall of Famer will face Logan Paul in a pay-per-view event June 6 at Hard Rock Stadium in Florida. In the 26-year-old Paul, Mayweather will face a star created on the Internet. Followed by more than 20 million on YouTube, Paul began boxing in 2019 with a six-round bout against fellow YouTube star KSI. A former high school wrestler, Paul will have a 6-inch height advantage over Mayweather, but obviously gives away plenty in ring experience and mastery.
Nadal reaches Madrid quarterfinals
Rafael Nadal got through another young opponent and showed signs he was getting closer to his best form on clay as he defeated Alexei Popyrin, 6-3, 6-3, to make it to the Madrid Open quarterfinals. Nadal overcame eight aces and saved five break points against the Australian. The five-time Madrid champion cruised past Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz in the second round on Wednesday.