BOZICH | Monday Muse: (Misplaced) Belmont bitterness; Teddy Bridgewater rising
Nobody does sore losing like horse racing. Teddy Bridgewater turning heads in New York City. Former Kentucky coach chasing college baseball national title. What happened to Mike Davis?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Now what?
The Triple Crown is over. Nobody from the local college baseball scene is bound for Omaha. The Cincinnati Reds are in Year 17 of their rebuild. College football is more than a month from distributing equipment. The Kentucky-Indiana all-star series was split.
I posed my question on Twitter Sunday. I'll pose it again here:
What's the next event you're circling on your sports calendar?
1. Sore Loser Cafe
Nobody does excuses the way horse racing does excuses.
Didn't like the track. Jockey moved too soon. Spooked in the paddock. Threw a shoe. Bounced off a great performance. Terrible post position. Miserable trip. Didn't like mud in his face.
That's a starter set.
I thought one of the owners of California Chrome set the bar impossibly high four years ago when he whined about the Belmont presence of horses that skipped the Preakness.
There's a new clubhouse leader -- Mike Repole, Mr. Vitamin Water and also owner of 2010 Kentucky Derby contender Uncle Mo.
The short version: Repole wonders if the jockey on Restoring Hope, trainer Bob Baffert's second Belmont runner, performed his duties as a "blocking back" to help Justify win the Triple Crown Saturday.
Repole said stewards should investigate why jockey Florent Giroux urged Restoring Hope from the gate quickly and then parked the colt just outside jockey Mike Smith and Justify for the first mile or so of the trip.
Repole suggested Restoring Hope's assignment was to ease the way for Justify. Repole was co-owner of Vinno Rosso, who finished fourth, as well as Noble Indy, who was 10th -- and he vented to Tom Pedulla of the New York Post.
Except … it's a mile-and-a-half race. All a contending jockey had to do was ask his horse earlier on the Belmont backstretch and engage Justify prior to the turn. Restoring Hope wasn't Anthony Munoz. The horse wasn't capable of blocking every contender trying to maneuver inside or outside. Secretariat couldn't do that.
And did I mention that it is a mile and a half race?
Plenty of time to find space to make your move. If you're good enough. Most horses aren't.
Party on, Justify.
2. Teddy, Teddy Teddy
Justify was not the only sports newsmaker in New York City last week. Former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater earned his share of tabloid ink, too -- and not on Page Six of the Post.
When the Jets signed Bridgewater several months ago, the safest prediction was that he would be an insurance policy. Josh McCown would start. Rookie Sam Darnold would prepare to take over mid-season. Bridgewater was Plan C.
Bridgewater has a bad knee that cost him most of the last two NFL seasons. The Minnesota Vikings let him walk. Darnold showed a big arm at USC.
Bridgewater is not ready for life as the No. 3 guy. Word from the Jets' off-season training activities is that he is throwing the ball with sizzle and accuracy.
The quarterback competition is on in New York.
3. Former Kentucky Coach Omaha Bound
There were many reasons Gary Henderson was removed as the baseball coach at Kentucky in 2016 after eight seasons. One had to be that Henderson never got the Wildcats to Omaha, a struggle magnified by Louisville's repeated trips to the College World Series.
Time to put that knock against Henderson in the bat rack.
He's the interim coach at Mississippi State, which is looking to throw millions at its next coach. Henderson is unlikely to get the job full time.
But the Bulldogs are going to Omaha, earning their way by winning two of three at Vanderbilt in the Super Regional. And what if …
Strange game, baseball.
4. Dog Pile of the Year?
Remember that first trip the Louisville baseball team earned to Omaha in 2007? When the Cards won a regional at Missouri and then came home and eliminated Oklahoma State at Patterson Stadium?
I nominate that dog pile as the most enthusiastic dog pile of the Dan McDonnell Era.
Washington brought a similar blast of energy and excitement to its dog pile when the Huskies took down college baseball power Cal-State Fullerton Sunday night. The Huskies partied like they'd never been to Omaha before because this will be their first trip to eastern Nebraska.
Watch the video.
Go crazy, Huskies, go crazy.
5. Ovechkin For the Win
Not much additional comment required for that Tweet. Nobody is having a better time celebrating a championship than Washington Capitols star Alexander Ovechkin.
Somebody promise to make sure he has a driver the rest of the summer.
6. Angel Still Soaring
Angel McCoughtry is the player who made the University of Louisville a nationally relevant women's basketball program -- and she's still doing great things.
What was the big deal about this basket?
It gave McCoughtry 15 points for the night and 5,120 for her career, bumping her into 15th place on the WNBA all-time scoring list.
McCoughtry sat out last season to rest after eight years of playing year-round basketball. She's still got game.
7. Where in the World is Mike Davis?
When I heard that former Indiana coach Mike Davis was leaving Texas Southern for Detroit, I was happy for Davis.
More than a decade after he was fired by IU, Davis rebuilt his career the hard way, making stops at UAB and Texas Southern. What's so hard about that?
Check the Texas Southern schedule. Last season, like most seasons, Davis started with 13 consecutive road games. It's the only way the program could pay its bills, picking up guarantee checks at Ohio State, Syracuse, Clemson and 10 other places
The Tigers started 0-13 but finished 16-20, earning their fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last five seasons.
No wonder Detroit was trying to recruit him. With his connections in the Midwest and South, Davis would recruit and develop a winner in the Horizon League.
But reports that Davis will be the next Detroit coach were apparently premature. He is still listed as the head coach at Texas Southern. Detroit has made no official announcement.
What's going on?
8. Mat Latos, Still Pitching High and Tight
Mat Latos is 30. He's five years removed from back-to-back 14 win seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. He won 60 big-league games before he was 27. He looked like a keeper.
Latos bounced from the Reds to the Marlins to the Dodgers to the Angels to the White Sox to the Nationals to the Blue Jays. He struggled to earn 15 innings in the big leagues last season and has not pitched any in the majors this season.
Don't expect a turnaround.
Latos is playing independent league baseball. Last weekend he earned headlines the only way Latos can earn them these days.
He threw high and tight at an opposing hitter on two consecutive pitches, inspiring this brawl, which is definitely worth a look.
The Muse thanks you, Mat.
9. Make Your World Cup Selection
Team USA will not be in Russia, but the FIFA World Cup will go on, with considerable coverage on WDRB. Saudi Arabia opens the action against the host country Thursday.
The list of favorites begins with the expected contenders -- Brazil, Germany, France, Spain and Argentina. If you're motivated to make a case for another team, step up. I'll throw a sentimental dinar on Serbia.
For Iceland, this is the first trip to the World Cup after a dozen failed attempts. With a population less than half of Jefferson County (348,580), Iceland is one of the smallest nations to quality for the event.
No wonder Time magazine is excited.
10. Poll Results
Your Belmont Stakes pick
Justify 61 percent
Not Justify 39 percent
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