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Authentic wins Kentucky Derby, favorite Tiz the Law second

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Sept. 5 (UPI) — Authentic held on through deep stretch Saturday to upset heavy favorite Tiz the Law and win the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, ending a year-long roller coaster ride for his trainer, Bob Baffert.

The outcome also ended hopes that Tiz the Law, winner of the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes in his last two races, could go on to win a Triple Crown.

The events surrounding the race were as strange as the year itself.

Baffert won the Derby for the sixth time, tying the record held by Ben Jones, although it appeared through much of the year he would be doing well just to get a horse into the race.

One by one, his top hopes, including the winners of both divisions of the Arkansas Derby, succumbed to injuries.

With the Derby pushed back four months from its usual first Saturday in May, Tiz the Law was rolling from race to race, dominating all competition, while Baffert was left with Santa Anita Derby runner-up Authentic and Shared Belief Stakes winner Thousand Words.

Then the strangeness continued, nearly up to Saturday’s 7:01 p.m. EDT post time as Thousand Words was startled in the paddock, reared and flipped.

He did not appear to be seriously injured but was scratched on veterinarians’ orders. Baffert said his key assistant, Jimmy Barnes, broke his hand trying to restrain the colt.

In true “all’s well that ends well” fashion, Authentic then made things right on the track.

With John Velazquez riding, he broke a bit awkwardly from the outside gate, starting behind Tiz the Law. But by the time the field passed the finish line for the first time, he was on a lead he would never surrender.

Jockey Manny Franco got Tiz the Law a nice spot behind the leading trio, made a move into the top of the stretch to challenge Authentic, but then could find no more. He settled for second, 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner.

Mr. Big News, an extreme long shot, was third with a late run. Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A.P., who finished second to Thousand Words in the Shared Belief at Del Mar, finished fourth after a rough start.

“It was crazy what happened in the last 20 minutes,” Baffert said shortly after the finish. “The emotions that go through your mind. You go from the bottom to the top.”

Then, in the winner’s circle, Authentic acted up and Baffert, shying away from the colt, ended up sprawled on the turf.

“I’m OK,” he said, ending just another strange chapter.

The trainer credited Velazquez’s ride. “He rode the most incredible race. He had it all figured out but he had the horse to do it with,” Baffert said.

Authentic, an Into Mischief colt, won his first three races, all in California, and then finished second behind Honor A.P. in the Santa Anita Derby.

He returned from that to win the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park in his last start before the Kentucky Derby but nearly blew a big lead in the stretch run there, raising questions whether he could handle the 1 1/4 miles of the Run for the Roses — questions he answered.

Another unusual note: Authentic is owned in partnership by Spendthrift Farm, owned by B. Wayne Hughes, a decades-long fixture in the sport, and Myracehorse.com, a syndicate with more than 4,000 members, each of who put up a few hundred dollars. Madaket Stables LLC and Starlight racing also have a piece of the colt.

With Tiz the Law winning the Belmont Stakes and Authentic the Kentucky Derby, there will be no Triple Crown winner this year. But those two look to be likely candidates for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic in two months time, down the road at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

Thousand Words’ scratch left a field of 15, the smallest since 1998, to load into Churchill Downs’ brand-new, 20-stall starting gate.

The Derby had been delayed four months because of COVID-19 protocols.

After trying for months to work out a plan to allow a limited number of spectators, Churchill Downs officials surrendered to the inevitable just weeks before the race and only essential personnel, owners and a few of their guests were on hand rather than the usual cheering throng of 150,000 or so.

There were crowds of Black Lives Matter demonstrators outside Churchill Downs, but the demonstrations appeared to be orderly. A large law enforcement contingent was present around the track.

Kentucky Derby runs without spectators

Jockey John Velazquez, riding Authentic, leads the field as they round the first turn in the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby on September 5, 2020, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Photo by John Sommers II/UPI

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Bianca Andreescu skipping French Open, rest of season

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Sept. 23 (UPI) — 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu said she will not play in the upcoming French Open and will sit out the remainder of the 2020 season.

The 20-year-old Andreescu — currently ranked No. 7 in the world — announced her decision on social media, saying she wants to “focus on my health and training.”

“I have come to the difficult decision to skip the clay court swing this year and will be taking the remainder of the season off to focus on my health and training,” she wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “As hard as it was to come to this conclusion, I have so much to look forward to in 2021, including the Olympics.

“I want to use this time to focus on my game so I can come back stronger and better than ever. As always, your encouraging words and support meant the world to me and I look forward to getting back on the court and competing for Canada next year!”

Andreescu hasn’t competed on tour since withdrawing from a match during the WTA Finals in October 2019 because of a left knee injury. The same knee ailment prevented her from playing at the Australian Open in January.

Andreescu — the first Canadian to win a major singles trophy with her triumph in New York last year — also skipped this month’s U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and a lack of preparation time.

The 2020 French Open is set to begin Sunday in Paris. Andreescu is the third top-10 player on the women’s side to opt out of the tournament, joining No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and No. 3 Naomi Osaka.



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Fantasy football: Kelce, Andrews top Week 3 tight end rankings

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Sept. 24 (UPI) — Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, Jared Cook and Tyler Higbee lead my Week 3 fantasy football tight end rankings for 2020.

Jonnu Smith, Darren Waller, Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant and Hunter Henry round out my Top 10 options at the position. Mo Alie-Cox of the Indianapolis Colts and Logan Thomas of the Washington Football Team are among my favorite sleepers this week.

An early explosion of offense around the league has led to increased relevance for tight ends through two weeks of the fantasy football season. Check out my weekly waiver wire article for more great options for your fantasy football team’s tight end slot in Week 3.

Here are some of my favorite players in this week’s Top 20 rankings:

TOP SHELF

The Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens should score in bunches in a high-octane Monday Night Football matchup. I expect Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce to be one of the most productive players in the game. Kelce is my top tight end this week.

The Ravens have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Kelce should have at least eight catches and has a great chance to score multiple times in Week 3.

Mark Andrews will be the tight end on the other side of the field when the Ravens take on Kelce’s Chiefs to cap off the Week 3 schedule.

Andrews scored twice in Week 1 and should return to the end zone in Week 3. He is my No. 2 tight end this week and should be in lineups regardless of league format.

SNEAKY PLAYS

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee lands at No. 5 in my rankings. Higbee exploded for three touchdowns in Week 2 and should continue to be an integral part of the Rams offense.

I expect the tight end to catch at least five passes for 50 yards and to return to the end zone in a game against the New York Giants Sunday in Inglewood, Calif.

Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki hauled in eight catches for 130 yards and a score in Week 2. He should continue his breakout campaign on Thursday Night Football when the Dolphins face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars have allowed a league-high 198 recieving yards to tight ends this season. I expect Gesicki to see double-digit targets in Week 3 and turn that into a great fantasy football performance. He is my No. 8 tight end this week and is a must-start in leagues that require starting tight ends.

LONGSHOTS

Mo Alie-Cox has done a fantastic job as a replacement for injured Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle. He’ll return to that role in Week 3 when the Colts host the New York Jets, who just allowed two touchdowns to San Francisco 49ers tight end Jordan Reed.

Alie-Cox had 111 yards on five catches in Week 2. I expect him to come close to 100 receiving yards again in Week 3. He is No. 11 in my rankings, but should only be in lineups for leagues that require starting tight ends.

Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas is my No. 15 tight end option and lands in streaming territory for Week 3.

Thomas had a touchdown in Week 1 and hauled in four catches in Week 2. He should surpass that total in this game against the Cleveland Browns, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends in 2020.

Cleveland allowed 11 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown to Cincinnati Bengals tight ends in Week 2. Thomas could end up as a Top 10 fantasy football tight end for Week 3 if he gets into the end zone against the Browns.

Week 3 fantasy football tight end rankings

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs at BAL

2. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens vs. KC

3. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles vs. CIN

4. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints vs. GB

5. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams at BUF

6. Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans at MIN

7. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders at NE

8. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins at JAX

9. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos vs. TB

10. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers vs. CAR

11. Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts vs. NYJ

12. Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons vs. CHI

13. Evan Engram, New York Giants vs. SF

14. Jordan Reed, San Francisco 49ers at NYG

15. Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team at CLE

16. Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns vs. WAS

17. Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. HOU

18. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles vs. CIN

19. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions at ARI

20. Chris Herndon, New York Jets at IND

This week in the National Football League

The Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff celebrates after a first down in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Rams defeated the Eagles 37-19. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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College football: Notre Dame-Wake Forest postponed due to COVID-19

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Sept. 22 (UPI) — Saturday’s game between Notre Dame and Wake Forest has been postponed after the Fighting Irish announced 13 players are currently in isolation.

Notre Dame said in a statement Tuesday that seven student-athletes tested positive for the coronavirus out of 94 tests administered Monday. Combined with testing results from last week, 13 players are isolated — with 10 in quarantine.

Due to the positive results over the past two weeks, Notre Dame has paused all football-related activities until further testing is completed. Both schools are working on rescheduling the matchup.

“With student-athlete health and safety our primary focus, we will continue to follow our prevention protocols and ongoing testing procedures,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “We managed an increase in positivity rates in August, and the players handled it wonderfully.

“We knew COVID-19 would present challenges throughout the season, and we’ll always put student-athlete health and safety at the forefront of our decision making. We look forward to resuming team activities and getting back on the playing field.”

Wake Forest athletic director John Currie said the programs are attempting to reschedule the game for Oct. 3 — an open date that both schools share.

“I know everyone involved is saddened to be unable to play this weekend, but based on the circumstances it is the right decision,” Currie said in a statement Tuesday. “We are already discussing options for rescheduling with the ACC and our future opponents, including the possibility of playing on the October 3rd weekend.”

Notre Dame beat South Florida 52-0 at home last week and opened the 2020 season with a victory over Duke.

Wake Forest began the season with a blowout loss to top-ranked Clemson in Week 1 and a 45-42 setback to North Carolina State in Week 2.

This is now the fourth ACC contest impacted because of coronavirus issues.



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