<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Mon, 27 Apr 2015 22:06:41 -0400 Mon, 27 Apr 2015 22:06:41 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sox-Orioles Game Postponed]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 19:08:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP120698137157.jpg

Monday's baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles was canceled because of clashes between protestors and police. The epicenter of the protests is less than a mile from the ballpark.

"After consultation with Baltimore City Police Department, tonight’s game between the Orioles & White Sox at Oriole Park has been postponed," the Orioles said in a Tweet at 5:20 p.m.

An announcement about a make-up date was not immediately announced. Fans should keep their tickets, the team said.

About 1,000 fans were inside the stadium when the game was called off, and many gates already had been closed.

At least eight police officers were confirmed to be injured in protests that have heated up in the Liberty Heights area and near a shopping mall in Baltimore on the day of Freddie Gray's funeral.

Gray died a week ago of an unexplained injury while in police custody. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Out-Flexed By Woman]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 16:32:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/210*120/FlexCam.PNG

One woman brought the big guns to a recent Philadelphia indoor professional football game, but there was no reason to call the police.

"It started with a fun in-arena event and then started to blow up," said Soul Chief Operating Officer, John Adams.

The Philadelphia Soul features a "Flex Cam" during a break in the action, calling out spectators to flex for the camera shown on the jumbo tron. One woman attending the April 12 game gave fans a big surprise when the "Flex Cam" panned toward her.  

The video, posted to the Soul's YouTube channel, begins like most others, showing fans flexing for the camera. The camera focuses on a man with two women sitting behind him who appear to be discussing something as he shows off his muscles.

A little later, the camera comes back to the man who is promptly shown up by one of those women.

"You've been stoned, my brother!" the announcer said.

Turns out, the flex cam was staged and the man and woman featured in the video are an engaged couple, according to Adams. He said, "We take a lot of pride in our in-arena experience and that's all this was meant to be." But when the video was posted to the Soul's Facebook page, it blew up.

The video was shared more than 6-thousand times and had about 600,000 views from the Facebook page as of Monday afternoon. The Soul's YouTube version of the video had been viewed nearly 4.5 million times.

Adams also noted that the Soul were undefeated as of Monday.

Jon Bon Jovi is a former owner of the Philadelphia Soul. 

Photo Credit: Phillysoulfootball Youtube
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<![CDATA[Husky Ace]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 12:00:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CARSONCROSS042715.jpg Every Friday in conference play, the UConn baseball team has a great chance to win thanks to their ace starting pitcher, Carson Cross. When he takes the mound, the ball park is filled with major league scouts and the pop of the mitt from Carson's fastball.]]> <![CDATA[UConn-Syracuse to Renew Rivalry]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:44:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+diaco+temple.jpg

UConn and Syracuse last played football in 2012, when both were members of the Big East Conference. The Orange has since moved on to the AAC while the Huskies are now in the AAC.

But the two old rivals will be reuniting again on the gridiron over the coming years, according to ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy.

The details: Syracuse would come to Rentschler Field in 2016 and the Huskies would travel to upstate New York in 2018 for the return trip.

More from CollegeFootballTalk.com:

Syracuse will not meet its ACC power conference scheduling requirement with this series, but the requirement has already been met for 2016 with Notre Dame in MetLife Stadium and 2018 against the Irish in South Bend.

UConn leads the all-time series over Syracuse, 6-3.

According to SNY.com's John Silver, the Huskies' schedules are now set for 2016 and 2017 with two games needed in each of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. "There is also a yet to be scheduled home-and-home series with Tennessee," Silver writes. "The game were agreed too long before the conference realignment circus and while the contracts remain in place, the dates are TBD."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Former UConn C Alex Mateas Top CFL Prospect]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:40:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/uconn+football_generic+shot.jpg

UConn cornerback Byron Jones could be a first-round pick in this week's NFL Draft. He will also likely be the only Huskies player to hear his name called over the three-day event. But when the CFL holds its annual draft next month, former UConn center Alex Mateas could be one of the first players off the board.

According to the CFL's final Scouting Bureau rankings, Mateas is the third-best prospect behind Rice defensive lineman Christian Covington and UNLV offensive lineman Brett Boyko. Yale running back Tyler Varga is fourth.

Mateas, a redshirt senior from Ottawa, Ontario, started all 12 games at center for the Huskies last season. He's also excited about the prospect of playing professionally in Canada. "That would unbelievable, it would be just a dream come true," he said back in December. "I am going to take everything I learned here, apply it to whatever happens to the future."

According to the New Haven Register, scouts from Calgary and Toronto were at UConn's Pro Day last moth.

Varga, meanwhile, had a good showing at the January Senior Bowl and is currently preparing for the NFL Draft.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Six Players Suspended After Brawl]]> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 04:33:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/sale+and+samardzija.jpg

In the aftermath of Thursday’s brawl between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals, Major League Baseball has handed out suspensions to six players involved in the fracas.

The White Sox were hit with two of those suspensions, as starting pitchers Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija were each suspended for five games. If the suspensions are upheld after appeal, both pitchers would miss one start for the White Sox.

As for the Royals, a total of four players were hit with bans. Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura was slapped with a seven games suspension, and pitcher Edinson Volquez was suspended for five games. Royals outfield Lorenzo Cain and pitcher Kevin Herrera were also suspended for two games apiece.

Five of the six players that were hit with suspensions were ejected from the game as a result of their actions, with Herrera being the only one not ejected from the game on Thursday.

The two teams have had bad blood simmering this season with beanballs flying between the two sides, but Thursday’s game marked a serious escalation. When Ventura fielded a groundball off the bat of Adam Eaton, he reportedly mouthed a profanity as the outfielder jogged to first base, and that’s when the benches cleared.

After the fight and after the game, Sale reportedly tried to get into the Royals’ clubhouse to have words with Ventura, but former White Sox outfielder Alex Rios (now with the Royals) calmed him down according to reports.

All six players have the option of appealing the suspensions, and if they choose to do so, they will not take effect until after the appeal is heard by MLB.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Islanders Defeat Capitals, 3-1, Force Game 7]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 13:54:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/caps+islanders+game+6.jpg

The New York Islanders defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1 Saturday, forcing the playoff series to Game 7 in Washington Monday.

The game was rough and marked by big hits, including Alex Ovechkin's hit on John Tavares in the middle of the third period, which led to the Caps losing track of the puck and the Islanders breaking a tie that had lasted most of the game.

The Caps thought they had tied the game again with a goal later in the period, but under review it was clear the puck had hit the crossbar of the goal and had not scored.

The Islanders scored again on an empty goal with less than a minute to go.

The Islanders played with passion in what could still be the last game of professional hockey in their home, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The team moves to Barclays Center next season.

Now, the series returns to Washington for the final game on Monday.

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington for updates on this story.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bettor's Guide to the Kentucky Derby]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 11:31:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP718172799342.jpg

Fancy putting down a wager on the Kentucky Derby but don't want to look like a novice when you place your bet?

American Pharoah remains the current favorite to win the Run for the Roses on May 2 (watch it live on NBC from 4 p.m.) with odds of 2:1, with Dortmund (9:2) and Carpe Diem (7:1) also heavily favored. Last year's winner, California Chrome, entered the race as the favorite at 5:2.

American Pharoah has won both the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby so far in 2015, with Dortmund having picked up victories in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, the San Felipe Stakes, and the Santa Anita Derby. Carpe Diem is coming off wins in the Tampa Bay Derby and the Toyota Blue Grass.

For all you inexperienced bettors out there, here's a quick guide to betting on the Kentucky Derby that'll have you sounding like a serious handicapper by the time American Pharoah approaches the starting gate.


Odds-on many racing newcomers may not know what the odds actually mean. Whenever there are two numbers (e.g., 2:1 for American Pharoah at time of writing) displayed on a tote board at a racetrack or on a list of wager options, the first number (2) denotes the minimum amount of profit the wager will pay. The second number (1) is the amount you need to wager to win the first amount.

Once the final finishing places of a race are official, the track will post the prices of the winning wagers. In the above example, the horse will pay $2. The track will then add the $2 profit and the $1 wager together to derive the payout: $2 + $1 = $3. Dortmund at 9:2 would therefore pay $11 on a $2 bet.

If a horse is quoted with only a single digit, it is implied that the missing second number is a 1. In other words, a 7 on the tote board means 7:1. So if you made a $2 wager, a bet on a horse with 7:1 odds would pay $16. That's because 7:1 is the same as 14:2, so $14 + $2 = $16. (In betting on horse races, payouts are generally based on a $2 wager.)

Now that the odds makes sense, it’s time to decide the type of wager you want to make. Here are some of the most popular bets:

Win Your horse must finish first to collect.

Place Your horse must finish first or second to collect.

Show Your horse must finish first, second or third to collect.

Exacta You play two horses, and they must come in first and second in the exact order specified in order to collect.

Exacta Box You play two horses, as above, but here they must come in first and second in either order to collect.

Trifecta You play three horses, and to win, they must come in first, second and third in exact order to collect.

Trifecta Box You play three horses, and they must finish first, second and third in any order to collect.

Superfecta You play four horses, and they must come in first, second, third and fourth in exact order.

Superfecta Box You play four horses, and to win they must finish first, second, third and fourth in any order.



But novice bettors need to take into account more than just the odds for the Kentucky Derby. To further boost your chances of making a winning bet on May 2, you should also consider the following:

Distance: The Kentucky Derby is run over a distance of a mile and a quarter. Some horses are bred for distance and are usually better candidates than one without a lineage of success at long races that place a premium on endurance.

Weather/Track Condition If there is a chance for bad weather and/or an off track, it’s essential to consider that when handicapping the race. To measure a horse’s ability in this type of race, take a quick look at his past performances, and see if he has any experience on a muddy or sloppy track.

Coverage of the 141st Kentucky Derby will air live Saturday May 2 starting at 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ollie Reiterates He's Staying at UConn]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:13:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin+ollie+uconn+against+bryant.jpg

A short time after UConn coach Kevin Ollie said he had no plans to leave UConn, the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder fired coach Scott Brooks. Rumors persisted, however, that Ollie could be an option for the Thunder, which prompted the coach to tweet Thursday, "Everybody has their sources but this is the only source I need. #FamilyFirstAlways. #UConnluv."

An hour later, CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein, said that Ollie went so far as to remove himself from consideration for the Thunder job.

The Hartford Courant's Dom Amore reports that, despite reports that Ollie remained interested in the Thunder job after stating otherwise, there had been no communication between the NBA club and the Huskies coach. "But there are back-channel things going on," the source added.

Either way, Ollie, who signed a five-year, $15 million contract last May, is staying put. And his response this week is similar to the one he issued last summer, when rumors first surfaced about his NBA coaching prospects.

"I don't know about the future," Ollie said at the time. "The only thing I can do is take care of today. I got a five-year contract, and I believe I'm going to be here all five years. That's my motto, that's where I want to be at. I want to be here with my family. I want to see my daughter graduate high school here in Connecticut. And whatever happens is going to happen. There's going to be speculation ever year, but the kids know that I have their back, their best interest in mind."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Football Still in Rebuilding Mode]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:11:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bob-diaco-boise-state-sept.jpg

SBNation rolled out a UConn football preview this week and thorough doesn't begin to describe it. Kudos to Bill Connelly for the exhaustive effort. Unfortunately, a team that we've all known to be in rebuilding mode well before coach Bob Diaco arrived on the scene in December 2013, remains so after his first full season yielded just two wins.

The issues haven't changes -- starting with finding a starting quarterback -- but Connelly does offer some hope by looking at other FBS programs that saw surprising success under new coaches entering their second season.

"There were second-year surges last year -- Sonny Dykes at California, Bret Bielema at Arkansas, Dave Doeren at NC State, Skip Holtz at Louisiana Tech, Sean Kugler at UTEP," Connelly wrote on Wednesday. "On average, these five went from three wins and an F/+ ranking of 103rd in 2013 to seven wins and 51st in 2014. None of the five was expected to do as well as he did. That's the Year Zero effect."

Sadly, Connelly doesn't expect that same good fortune to shine on the Huskies in 2015.

"Is there potential for a similar rise at UConn? Probably not. If the running game catches hold, then there's possible for improvement into the 90s or so on offense, and if the run defense improves as I expect, then maybe the defense will creep back into the 50s or 60s in Def. S&P+. Average that out, and maybe this becomes a top-80 team."

Hey, it's better than going backwards -- though, to be fair, UConn ranked near the bottom of all FBS programs in most major categories last season. That said, if you're a glass-half-full type, Connelly does expect some improvement, even if it's marginal at best.

But that's too big a leap to count on, especially considering how bad the offense has been for going on five years now. The odds are much better than UConn improves to around 100th, and while that's something you can build off of, it won't result in many 2015 wins, not with only four opponents who ranked worse than 73rd last year."

None of this would come as a surprise to Diaco, we'd imagine. He's been preaching longer than anyone that this wasn't an easy rebuilding project. The question now becomes whether the Huskies can get better -- even if incrementally -- this season and beyond.

<![CDATA[Gear Up For the Big Day at the Spiral Stakes]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:33:31 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.43.01+PM.png Meet the horses, jockeys and owners at the Spiral Stakes as we gear up for the Kentucky Derby. ]]> <![CDATA[Meet a Special Yearling at Winstar Farms]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:27:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.22.27+PM.png Audrina returns to Winstar Farms to meet the yearling she helped deliver just last year. ]]> <![CDATA[Train to Be a Jockey With the Pros]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:22:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.07.16+PM.png We're at the North American Racing Academy to learn how to be a professional jockey. ]]> <![CDATA[Greg Hardy Suspended for 10 Games]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 21:57:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/greg-hardy-jason-garrett.jpg

Dallas Cowboys fans will have to wait quite awhile to see defensive end Greg Hardy on the field.

The NFL announced Wednesday that Hardy has been suspended 10 games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league.

Hardy was informed of the suspension in a letter from league commissioner Roger Goodell, which detailed the findings of the two-month investigation into Hardy’s case that followed his last court appearance.

"This suspension is something that we anticipated prior to Greg's signing, and we respect the Commissioner's ruling," said Jerry Jones. "Our organization understands the very serious nature of this matter. We will use our resources --work closely with Greg and with the league -- to ensure a positive outcome."

According to a report by The Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys and NFL are now awaiting an appeal by Hardy to see if he can get the 10-game penalty reduced.

Hardy was found guilty of assault on a female and communicating threats in a bench trial last July, but he appealed and was granted a jury trial. When that jury trial was set to begin in February, the prosecution couldn’t locate the accuser and the charges were dismissed.

The next month, Hardy signed an incentive-heavy, one-year deal with the Cowboys, who of course were well aware that the 2013 Pro Bowler was facing league discipline.

Now, Hardy is set to make his Cowboys debut on Thanksgiving Day against his old team, the Carolina Panthers.

<![CDATA[Race to the Triple Crown]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 18:06:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/orb-wins.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Coach Kevin Ollie Says He Has No Plans to Leave UConn]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:01:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kevin-ollie-rim.jpg

For the second consecutive offseason, UConn coach Kevin Ollie has been mentioned as a possible NBA coaching candidate. And for the second consecutive offseason, Ollie had to reiterated that his allegiances lie in Storrs, with the Huskies basketball program.

“As I have said many times, I am proud and honored to be the head basketball coach at the University of Connecticut and I have no plans to pursue other opportunities," Ollie said on Wednesday in a statement released by the university.

"We are already excited about next season and I am looking forward to preparing our team to be the best we can be on the court, in the classroom, and in our community.”

Last week, Yahoo.com reported that Ollie could be a candidate for the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder job should the team decide to part ways with incumbent Scott Brooks. On Monday, SNY.com's Adam Zagoria wrote that, according to sources, Ollie was being “seriously considered” for the Thunder job. 

Ten months ago we heard similar rumors, and Ollie issued a statement to assuage concerns about his coaching plans.

"I want to be here at UConn," he said at the time.

"I don't know about the future," he admitted. "The only thing I can do is take care of today. I got a five-year contract, and I believe I'm going to be here all five years. That's my motto, that's where I want to be at. I want to be here with my family. I want to see my daughter graduate high school here in Connecticut. And whatever happens is going to happen. There's going to be speculation ever year, but the kids know that I have their back, their best interest in mind."

A month before Ollie made those comments, UConn signed him to a new five-year, $15 million contract, which made him the highest-paid coach in the American Athletic Conference.

<![CDATA[Chicago Blackhawks Give Fans Late-to-Work Excuse Note ]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 11:41:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Blackhawks-Predators-21-April-2015.jpg

For many diehard Blackhawks fans, Tuesday night’s game was filled with excitement, suspense, and a lot of yawns.

The game, which ended early Wednesday morning after Brent Seabrook scored the winning goal in triple overtime, lasted nearly five hours and had many fans staying up well beyond their bedtimes to watch.

For the many fans likely wishing they could call in “hockey,” er "late," to work, the Blackhawks have you covered.

The team tweeted out an excuse note signed by “The Chicago Blackhawks” to excuse any lateness or sleepiness for those who were “up too late celebrating the win.”

For that, and for the glorious goal that ended Game 4 with a big win, many Hawks fans say “Thank you.”

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Seven Ways to Fake Being a Racing Expert]]> Mon, 27 Apr 2015 11:39:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP233467296026.jpg

You're not a horse racing expert, but you can act like one for the Kentucky Derby.

Amid all the hats, the mint juleps and the gambling, the real focus May 2 will be on the potential for something historic, as a narrowing field of elite young racehorses aims for the first Triple Crown victory in 37 years.

Don't know the first thing about horse racing? It doesn't matter. These seven tricks will help you get in on the spectacle as though you do.

1. Learn the lingo, and use it liberally.

You'll actually get to know something about racing later. For now, just pepper your comments with some jargon.

Before the race, check out race handicappers' predictions, check the tote board for the odds and watch the horses head from the paddock to their posts. Once the race begins, listen to the call, or the horses' running positions — but don't expect to have the foggiest idea what the caller is saying. (Don't worry, the race will only take a few minutes.)

A horse that's a closer runs his best later in a race, a stayer or router is good at running distances and a front-runner runs best at the head of the field. A horse is pinched back if it's held in close quarters, and if it's boxed in it's shut off or pocketed.

Horses' distances from each other in the stretch, or the last straight section of track, are measured by a head, e.g., the length of a horse's head. At the finish line, a photo finish is so close the finish-line camera has to figure out who won, and a dead heat is an exact tie. A horse finishes on the board if he's one of the first four to finish.

2. Know what's at stake, and tell everybody else.

You probably already know that only 11 horses have ever pulled off the feat of winning all three legs of the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. The last to manage it was Affirmed, back in 1978.

You might also know that since 1978, 11 have won the the first two legs only to flame out at Belmont. That was the case last year, when California Chrome fell short in the 1.5-mile, tough-to-handicap race that's often called the "Test of the Champion," with good reason.

There's plenty that can go wrong for a would-be Triple Crown winner: A great horse can get pocketed or pinched back, especially in the Derby's and the Preakness' crowded fields.

Or, in the Belmont, it can be overcome by better-rested rivals that ran in Louisville, then skipped the Preakness. Other horses have had their hopes dashed by jockey error at Belmont, where jockeys' tactics play a bigger role and riders may be tempted to accelerate too early in the comparatively long race.

3. Handicap the race yourself. (Remember that term?)

You can't feign some authority on horse racing without concocting a fervently held opinion on which horse will win.

Which horse has home-track advantage? What's its breeding like — geared for speed, or distance, or something else? What sort of races has it been running lately? Has it had any injuries? Who trains it?

The field for the Kentucky Derby is still shaping up. But more than a week out from the race, American Pharoah looks like a probable favorite, and Dortmund remains undefeated.

4. Bet on it.

Nothing screams "I know what I'm doing!" like advising your friends on how to spend their money, right? Right — well, as long as your friends aren't big gamblers. In that case, pay close attention.

Use Colin Bertram's primer to get a handle on what horses' odds mean and what they don't. Remember, a horse's odds reflect not how likely it is to win but how heavily other people are betting or expected to bet on it to win.

Once you've picked your favorites from the field of contenders and decided what kind of bet you want to make, examine the morning-line odds, which predict what people will probably bet on each horse. (The odds will change once betting actually has begun.)

The first number tells you how much profit your bet will get you should you win, and the second tells you how much you must bet to get it. If the horse you pick has 3-5 odds at the time of writing, that means you have to bet $5 in order to win $3 profit, so if you bet $10 and your horse wins, you'll get back $16.

5. Trot down Memory Lane.

Recall those halcyon days of horse racing — you know, when the only other sports worth their salt were baseball and boxing, and when your parents hadn't even met yet.

The mechanics of horse racing have changed plenty over the decades. Wealthy dynastic families ruled breeding, not commercial breeders, and as a result, horses were bred for stamina. Today, they're bred for speed.

But most fundamentally, horse racing doesn't have nearly the fan base it did in its heyday, back before pro football, pro basketball, casinos and, well, the internet horned in on its popularity. At racing's zenith, the track was the automatic mecca for gamblers.

6. Honor the greats.

Now you get to the really fun part of exercising your newfound authority: Breathlessly regaling your friends with tales of great races of yore as though you were there.

Bloviate about Secretariat's astounding 1973 Triple Crown, which he won by an unheard-of margin of 31 lengths. As the victor crossed the finish, the runner-up couldn't even fit on the television screen.

Wonder what would have happened if Man o' War, ranked the 20th century's best by Blood-Horse magazine and The Associated Press, had ever run for the Triple Crown. It wasn't around yet when Man o' War raced in the early 20th century, though he did sire some Triple Crown horses.

Reminisce about Kelso, who ran in the early '60s until he was 9 years old. Now all the Belmont contenders are 3-year-olds, and most horses are retired soon after that age to stud duty, which is far more lucrative than racing. (That was impossible for Kelso, who was a gelding, or castrated horse.)

Wax poetic about legendary filly Ruffian — even Secretariat's trainer said she might be better than his most famous horse — whose career was cut tragically short by a broken leg at Belmont in 1975. (You can still pay your respects at her grave at Belmont.)

7. Get ambitious.

If you really want to boost your expert cred, do your homework, and stake out a controversial stance or two. Read up, and weigh in, on hot-button topics like horse breeding habits, nasal strips and the sport's undeniable decline in recent decades, and what could reverse it.

Steve Coburn, the co-owner of last year's Triple Crown contender California Chrome, has grumbled that the growing numbers of Derby contenders that sit out the Preakness before returning for the Belmont have made Triple Crown wins all but impossible. He wants the rules tweaked so that only colts that run the Preakness can compete at Belmont.

He said last year that if his horse didn't win the Triple Crown — which it didn't — he doubted he'd ever see another winner. "There are people out there trying to upset the apple cart," he said. "They don't want a Triple Crown winner. They want a paycheck."

Indeed, the decades-long Triple Crown drought, and the sport's waning popularity, have encouraged talk of tinkering with the format and timing of the three key races, and not just among figures who have, quite literally, a horse in the race. Weigh in on what you think should be done, too.

But don't limit your expressions of your newfound expertise to such existential hand-wringing.

Try picking an underdog to root for Saturday. When you place your bet, try a superfecta, naming the top four horses in the order you expect them to place.

And whatever other stories you tell your friends, make sure to leave room for one still in the making: the first time you bluffed your way through the Triple Crown.

Just wait until the next big race to tell it. By then, you might actually be an expert.


This story has been updated from an earlier version.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Williams Looking to Get Better This Offseason]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 11:03:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP263777918388.jpg

Gabby Williams had a solid freshman campaign, one that saw her grow as a player as the season progressed. It certainly helped that she avoided injury, something she couldn't say her last two years in high school.

“I stayed healthy and that was a big thing,” Williams reiterated, via SNY.com. “Just having an opportunity to play in [the NCAA championship] game was something I worked for all season. It all came down to this moment. All the awards, all the accolades, they would have meant nothing if we didn’t win this final game.”

Back in March, coach Geno Auriemma admitted he didn't quite know what he had in Williams, who ended up growing into her role down the stretch.

"I've started calling Gabby Williams 'Forest Gump,' " Auriemma said at the time, via the Hartford Courant. "You know when he talks about how you never know what you're going to get in the box of chocolates? Well, I come to games saying, 'OK, let's see what the Gabby Williams show looks like today.' And you have no idea what it's going to look like. It's like this at practice sometimes, too. You never know when it is going to blow up or something completely different."

Next up: preparing for her sophomore season where, like always, there will be stiff competition for playing time.

“I’m really looking forward to this offseason and I’m excited that I’ll be able to work on my game and improve,” she said. “I haven’t had the chance to do that the last couple of offseasons. Last year I didn’t even play full court until First Night. So, I’ll be ready to get back out there and try to expand my game.”

A year ago, Williams was part of the nation's best recruiting class. Now she'll be competing with another stellar freshman class. This one includes Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and De’Janae Boykin, who are all top-10 players. There's also Georgetown transfer (and 2013-14 Big East freshman of the year) Natalie Butler.

But Williams sounds like she's only worried about what she can control.

“I absolutely have my goals, that’s for sure,” she said. “I’m hoping that I can improve my shooting. I know that’s something I need to work on. Maybe they’ll pull me off the block a little bit next year and I can get some guard play back in my game. It’s about being able to expand my game. This year a lot of my shots were around the rim. If I can add more range, I’ll be tougher to defend.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[UConn, Kansas St. Agree to Home-and-Home]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:59:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP227608622892.jpg

Starting next season, UConn and Kansas State will play in a home-and-home series, according to SNY.com's Carl Adamec.

The Huskies will host the Wildcats on Nov. 23, 2015, and UConn will make their way to Manhattan, Kansas the following season.

“I wanted three things out of scheduling UConn: a marquee opponent for our fans, a tremendous challenge for our team, and a unique women’s basketball event for our ‘Team Hally’ game and girls basketball players across this region,” Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said in a statement.

More details via the release:

The return game in the series comes in the 2016-17 season and will be the Third Annual Team Hally game. The inaugural Team Hally game was played in the 2014-15 season against Kansas on Jan. 11, a 58-52 K-State win. The Second Annual Team Hally game will be against a Big 12 opponent to be determined following the announcement of the 2015-16 Big 12 schedule.

Hally Yust passed away at the age of nine during the summer of 2014 and had the dream of playing basketball for Kansas State. In her memory, her family has set up the Hally Yust Memorial Fund through the K-State Foundation. To date, the Hally Yust Memorial Fund has raised nearly $75,000 in support of women's basketball. To learn more about the fund or to make a donation, please contact the K-State Foundation by calling (800) 432-1578 or by sending an e-mail to foundation@found.ksu.edu.

This will be the second and third meetings between the two teams. UConn and Kansas State first faced off during the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Huskies won, 76-26 on their way to the Final Four, where they lost to Notre Dame.

<![CDATA[LA NFL Stadium Plan Advances]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 01:38:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/chargers+raiders+stadium+rendering+5.jpg

The Carson City Council on Tuesday cleared the path for a proposed stadium that could become home to the NFL's San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders.

The 3-0 vote Tuesday by the council marks a significant step forward for plans to lure the NFL back to the Los Angeles area after a two-decade drought without a team in the nation's second-largest media market.

In the council chambers packed with NFL fans, a steady stream of speakers urged the council to move ahead with plans for the stadium, and not bother waiting to put a ballot measure before voters – the same fast-track Inglewood took for its proposed stadium.

Mayor Albert Robles said he hopes NFL owners meeting tomorrow get the message that Carson is ready to go.

"This project is going to be built on a landfill that that's completely remediated and safe enough for homes, and if it's safe enough for homes it's definitely safe enough for a stadium," Mayor Robles added.

The Chargers and Raiders announced in February they were  working on a joint proposal to build a 72,000-seat stadium at Del Amo Boulevard and the San Diego (405) Freeway in Carson. However, this is dependent on them being unable to strike deals for new facilities in their respective cities.

A major step was taken toward getting the NFL stadium built in Carson after a petition was delivered to city hall last month. While 8,041 signatures were needed, the group Carson2gether managed to get almost double that number.

Going through the initiative process allows the project to avoid lengthy and expensive environmental reviews.

In addition to the stadium, the latest project would also include a 350-room hotel, 850,000 square feet of commercial, entertainment and other uses, and a minimum of 10,000 parking spaces.

According to a staff report to the Carson City Council, the Chargers-Raiders stadium proposal would not require any city funds for "construction, overruns, maintenance or capital improvements." The report concluded that the stadium would give the city a "signature project."

The Inglewood City Council has already approved a plan by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke to build a stadium at the former Hollywood Park racetrack site.

Members voted unanimously on Feb. 24 to approve the 80,000-seat stadium. Despite this, the Rams have not announced any plans of moving back to the Los Angeles area.

LA has not had an NFL team since 1994. Officials in Industry and Inglewood also are considering stadium plans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: MANICA Architecture]]>