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Derby Winner Nyquist Won't Run in Belmont

May 24, 2016
NPR

The trainer of Nyquist says the Kentucky Derby winner is sick and won't run in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

Doug O'Neill said Tuesday that Nyquist is "out because of sickness."

Nyquist's bid for a chance at the Triple Crown ended when he finished third behind Exaggerator in the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday.

O'Neill's assistant Jack Sisterson said from Baltimore that the colt's blood work came back and showed an elevated white blood cell count. He said "we just want to do right by him and get him to 100 percent."

When he's healthy again, the plan is to ship him back to California, with a summer schedule that could include the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

In 2012, O'Neill's Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have another was retired the day before the Belmont with a tendon injury and missed a Triple Crown chance.

Garry Jones/AP

Exaggerator has taken home the second gem in horse racing’s triple crown. The colt won a mud-filled Preakness Stakes on Saturday, handing rival Nyquist the first loss of his career and effectively ending his shot at a triple crown.

It wasn’t an easy win for Exaggerator, though. For much of the race, the colt trailed not only Nyquist but Uncle Lino, as well. As in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, Exaggerator mounted a last-minute bid to take the lead; unlike that last race, however, Exaggerator finished the job.

Nyquist entered the race as the odds-on favorite, trailed by Stradivari and Exaggerator, whom he narrowly defeated at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. Nyquist — who’s named for the NHL’s Gustav Nyquist by his hockey fan owner — has now gone 8 for 9 in major races.

Rain came down for much of the day at Pimlico Race Course, just outside Baltimore. Still, Nyquist’s trainer, Dale Romans, betrayed no concern for the conditions in the lead-up to the race.

“My horse loves the mud,” Romans quipped to AL.com.

Rob Carr / Getty Images

Nearly one year since American Pharoah made history, Nyquist has embarked on a star-making turn of his own at Churchill Downs. The thoroughbred has won the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

The colt beat out 19 other competitors over the course of a hectic mile and a quarter, crossing the finish line about a body length ahead of Exaggerator.

Jockey Mario Gutierrez earned a patient win with Nyquist, giving the racehorse Danzing Candy plenty of leeway to lead the pack early. Gutierrez kept Nyquist close, though, never dropping much lower than third. Nyquist pulled ahead in the final stretch and didn't ease up until he definitively captured the Run for the Roses.

The win didn't exactly come as a surprise. By mid-afternoon, the bay colt was pulling down 2-1 odds, cleanly earning honors as the heavy favorite. Nyquist — owned, trained and ridden by the same team that won the 2012 Kentucky Derby — approached this year's race with the confidence of having succeeded at Churchill Downs before.

"There's a quiet confidence in the group that's not flashy," owner Paul Reddam told Rick Howlett of member station WFPL before the race. "But — to speak Californian for a moment — there's a very good vibe in the barn."

WKU Athletics

A former football standout from Western Kentucky University has pleaded not guilty to assault and other charges stemming from an altercation outside a club in Bowling Green.  Tyler Higbee made a brief appearance in Warren Circuit Court Thursday for arraignment.

Higbee was drafted last week by the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.  Defense attorney Brian Lowder says Higbee’s legal woes will not keep him from participating in the team's rookie mini-camp this weekend.

"The court is generally flexible with respect to letting people earn a living and that's what we expect him to be doing," Lowder told WKU Public Radio.  "I would anticipate we will be accommodated with regard to him earning a living and playing football."

Higbee is charged with assault, evading police, and public intoxication.  Higbee has denied using racial slurs before hitting Nawaf Alsaleh, which witnesses said preceded the fight last month.  Alsaleh received a concussion and brain hemorrhage, and has since been released from the hospital.  Higbee claims he acted in self-defense.

Higbee is due back in court on June 17 for a status hearing.

WKU Athletics

Three WKU football players were selected on the final day of the NFL draft. That ties a program record for the most players selected in the modern era. Five other players were invited to rookie camps.

Tight end Tyler Higbee was the first Hilltopper to get the call, chosen by the Los Angeles Rams with the 110th overall pick in the fourth round. Higbee became the highest offensive draft pick ever for WKU, and the first offensive player taken since 2003.

Record-setting WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty was taken by the Miami Dolphins as the 223rd pick in the draft's seventh round. The south Florida native led the nation in passing yards and passing touchdowns for the past two years.

Doughty is the first WKU quarterback ever selected in the NFL draft.

Cornerback Prince Charles Iworah rounded out the WKU selections when he was taken by the San Francisco 49ers also in the seventh round.

WKU Athletics

Former Western Kentucky University men's basketball coach Ray Harper has been hired in the same position at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama. He'll be formally introduced at a news conference in Jacksonville Thursday morning.

Harper resigned from WKU last month following the suspension of three players for undisclosed reasons. It was announced this week those players are no longer enrolled at WKU. School President Gary Ransdell has said those suspensions were the "primary reason" behind Harper's resignation March 17th.

WKU hired former Mississippi State head coach and Texas A & M assistant Rick Stansbury as head coach March 28th.

Harper coached for five seasons at WKU after becoming interim coach in the 2011-12 school year. He compiled an 89-64 record. He led the Hilltoppers to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first two seasons but failed to reach any post-season tournaments in his last three years.

Harper's taking over a program at Jacksonville State that went 8-23 last season, including a 4-12 record in the Ohio Valley Conference.

After being suspended from the Western Kentucky University men's basketball team last month for undisclosed reasons, three former players have now officially left the school.

In a statement released late Tuesday afternoon, WKU Athletics Director Todd Stewart said "Fredrick Edmond, Marlon Hunter and Chris McNeal are no longer enrolled at Western Kentucky University. They have been released from their scholarship and are able to pursue other opportunities."

The three were dismissed from the team for undisclosed reasons after a ruling by the University Disciplinary Committee. The Committee and the athletics department cited federal privacy laws in declining to release any details of the case.

Former coach Ray Harper resigned immediately following the players' suspensions. He's reportedly being considered for the head coaching position at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. New coach Rick Stansbury made it clear during his introductory news conference last week that the three would not be on the team next season.

Fredrick Edmond has signed with an agent and will forego his senior year of college eligibility to play professionally overseas. Both McNeal and Hunter are freshmen.

Wikimedia Commons

Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel is retiring.

That’s according to Borel’s agent,  Larry Melancon, who tells the Daily Racing Form that Borel informed him of his decision.

The publication says Borel is currently based at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas and has not commented publicly.

The 49-year-old Borel has won more than 5,100 races, including three Kentucky Derbys. In 2009, he became the first jockey to win the first two legs of racing’s Triple Crown aboard different mounts.

He rode Mine That Bird to victory in the Derby and finished first aboard the filly Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness Stakes.

Borel was inducted into the racing Hall of Fame in 2013.

Clinton Lewis

Rick Stansbury is returning to Kentucky to coach basketball.  The Meade County native was introduced Monday afternoon as the next men’s basketball coach at Western Kentucky University. 

During a news conference, Stansbury said he did not have to be sold on WKU.

"There's so much tradition.  I understood that.  I know what this place about," remarked Stansbury.  "I know not where it's at, but where we're going to go with it.  It's not about me.  It's about all of us, and that first game we show up to this year, we want that arena packed, and we're going to put a team on that floor that you will be proud of."

Stansbury comes from Texas A&M where he served as an assistant coach.   Before that, he spent 14 seasons as Mississippi State’s head coach.  Under a four-year contract, Stansbury will be paid a base salary of $500,000 annually. 

He takes over for Ray Harper who resigned this month following the suspension of three players.  Stansbury said the three would not be returning to the team. 

Stansbury said he has a lot of respect for Harper and hopes he will continue to be a part of the basketball program at WKU.

WKU Athletics

WKU has introduced Kentucky native Rick Stansbury as the school's new men's head basketball coach.

Stansbury played his high school basketball at Meade County, and comes to WKU after two seasons as an assistant coach at Texas A&M. He previously was head coach at Mississippi St. for 14 seasons.

Stansbury takes over the WKU job following the resignation of Ray Harper almost two weeks ago.

Stansbury has 293 career wins and 11 postseason trips as a head coach.

During his final ten seasons with Mississippi St., only Kentucky won more SEC championships than the eight won by the Bulldogs. He took the team to the postseason 11 times, with six NCAA appearances, and became the school's all-time wins leader.

The Western Kentucky University women's basketball season came to a close Sunday night as the Lady Hilltoppers lost to South Dakota 68 - 54 in the quarterfinals of the Women's National Invitational Tournament.

The Lady Tops finish the season with a 27 - 7 record, they're 103 - 32 overall under the first four years of head coach Michelle Clark Heard's leadership.

Kendall Noble led Western with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Tashia Brown added 12 points.

Trailing by nine points going into the fourth quarter, Brown's jumper got her team within seven points but with 8:55 to play but WKU was unable to get any closer.

Ivy Brown fell just short of her second consecutive double - double with 8 points and 10 rebounds.

WKU Athletics

Western Kentucky University  beat UT-Martin in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament 64 - 57 at E. A. Diddle Arena Monday night. The Lady Tops go on to the Tournament's "Sweet 16" round taking on St. Louis on their home court Friday at 7:00 p.m.

WKU's Tashia Brown had a game high 32 points while playing the game's entire 40 minutes. Kendall Noble, the only Division I player with two triple-doubles this season, nearly added a third finishing with 15 points, 12  assists and 8 rebounds.

WKU trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half before coming back for the win.

WKU Athletics

The WKU womens' basketball team beat Dayton 89- 72 at E. A. Diddle Arena in their opening round game of the Women's National Invitational Tournament. WKU was led by Conference USA Player of the Year Kendall Noble's 27 points.

They'll stay home to play their second round game Monday night at 7:00 pm central time against UT-Martin. It will be the first meeting between the teams since 1981.

During Thursday night's game, Noble got most of her points at the free throw line hitting, 17 out of 18 attempts. That's the fourth most free throws in a single game in WKU history. They were the most in a game for the Lady Toppers since 2008.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Western Kentucky University men's head basketball coach Ray Harper has resigned.

The school announced Thursday night that Harper informed Athletics Director Todd Stewart that he was stepping down.

The announcement came following news that three WKU basketball players had been suspended from the team following the outcome of a hearing by the University Disciplinary Committee.

No further information was released regarding the suspensions of Frederick Edmond, Marlon Hunter, and Chris McNeal.

Harper just completed his fifth full season as WKU head coach.

WKU's Lady Hilltopper basketball team received an at-large bid into the Women's National Invitation Tournament Monday night. They'll host the Dayton Flyers Thursday at E.A. Diddle Arena.

In ten previous WNIT appearances, the Lady Toppers stand at 13-12. They reached the tournament semifinals in 2006 and 2007. Their last WNIT appearance was in coach Michelle Clark Heard's first season in 2012-13.

WKU enters the postseason with a 24-6 overall record and are tied with Long Beach State and Wright State for the most wins among teams that accepted an at-large bid for the tournament.

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