Two out of three ain't bad? Try telling that to Smarty Jones and his legion of disheartened fans. \nThe Pennsylvania-bred Smarty came up just short Saturday at the 136th Belmont Stakes, losing to a 36-1 longshot and missing out on his chance at winning the Triple Crown. The three-year-old, an overwhelming favorite coming into the race, wound up second by a length to Belmont champion Birdstone. \nIt marked the first loss of Smarty's career after eight straight victories. Birdstone collected US$1 million for the win, and denied Smarty a US$5 million Triple Crown bonus. \nThe race also marked the third consecutive year that a Triple Crown hopeful lost at the Belmont after sweeping the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Only 11 horses have ever won the three races to achieve equine immortality. \nEven the jockey of the winning horse seemed disappointed that Smarty's bid fell short on the 1-mile oval. \n"This is part of the business," said Edgar Prado. "And I'm very sorry it had to be me." \nBirdstone's owners offered an apology, too, and trainer Nick Zito shared their feelings: "It was one emotional thing. It's sad because Smarty is great for racing." But Smarty's disappointment was matched by Zito's elation; it was the first Belmont victory for the New York trainer after five second-place finishes \nThird place went to Royal Assault, while Smarty's two biggest competitors -- Rock Hard Ten and Eddington -- finished out of the money in the nine-horse field. \nThe last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978. Smarty's loss extended the longest drought between Triple Crown champions. \nSmarty grabbed the lead around the track's second turn, with the record crowd of 120,139 wildly cheering his move. But he was unable to hold off a late charge by Birdstone, who left Smarty's boosters stunned and disappointed when he crossed the finish line first. \n"I saw him coming," said Smarty's jockey, Stewart Elliott. "My horse saw him. We just couldn't hold him off." \nSmarty's trainer, John Servis, offered congratulations to Zito but said he was proud of his horse's effort. \n"It hurts," Servis said. "We won't put our heads down." \nThe crowd turned out despite intermittent showers for the third and final jewel in racing's Triple Crown. More than eight hours before the race started, the parking lot was already filled with fans waiting beneath a gray, cloudy sky, hoping for a look at history. \nSmarty Jones had done well on wet tracks, winning the Arkansas Derby in the mud and doing the same on a sloppy track in the Kentucky Derby. He went off as a prohibitive 1-5 favorite, meaning his backers had to bet US$5 to win US$1.
As they celebrated Naomi Osaka’s victory in the final of the US Open in New York City’s Flushing Meadows on Saturday, Tokyoites were eager to embrace their heroines’ stand against racial injustice. Osaka, who won her third Grand Slam title with a victory over Victoria Azarenka, has used her platform to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, wearing a mask bearing the name of a different African American before each of her seven matches in the championship. She had donned masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Philando Castile. On Saturday, she walked
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
THOROUGH THRASHING: Hualien City beat Taichung Blue Whale 2-1, ending their three-year winning streak with one round of matches left and eight points to spare Hualien City on Saturday clinched this year’s Taiwan Mulan Football League title with one game to spare, by beating Taichung Blue Whale 2-1 at Fu Jen Catholic University in New Taipei City. Hualien City have scored 38 points this season. Blue Whale are second on the scoreboard with 30 points, while Taipei Bravo are third with 23 points. One final round of matches is to be played on Saturday. It is the fourth league trophy for Hualien City, and ends Blue Whale’s three-year winning streak. Hualien had won the title from 2014 to 2016. Both teams defended well, leaving few chances in front
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7