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Friday, April 13, 2012

Busy sports weekend for UofL

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FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


-Rutgers next for Lacrosse


-Field Hockey playing at Ohio State


-Softball hosts Longwood Saturday, Sunday


-John Asher, Churchill prepare for Derby


A busy weekend for Louisville sports over the next three days. Let's jump, slide, run and swing right into it! 


It hasn't been a championship season in this rebuilding year for the Louisville Lacrosse team but the Cards are getting some good things done as a team and individually. Louisville is seventh nationally in draw controls per game and in the top-20 in caused turnovers per game. Jeff Walz would be proud of that latter stat! 


Nikki Boltja is third in the nation in goals per game. Cat Gordon ranks #14th in draw controls per contest and Monica Negron is 16th in turnovers caused. 


Louisville (3-8, 1-3) travels to Rutgers for a Friday afternoon game against the Scarlet Knights at 5 p.m. You can watch the action free on Rutgers' RVision at the Rutgers  website. 


The Scarlet Knights (7-5, 2-2) fell to top-ranked Syracuse last time out and are led by Stephanie Anderson (30 goals) and Ali Steinberg (24). Louisville's Boltja has found the back of the net 42 times this season. 


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Field Hockey is going through a spring training of sorts and will have a busy Saturday in Columbus, OH. Saturday with three games. The Cards take on Ohio State at 11:15 a.m., Central Michigan at 1:45 p.m. and Kent State at 4:15 p.m.


Second year coach Justine Sowry has plenty of experienced talent returning for the fall and the best facilities in college field hockey to practice and play in. 


The Cards will have their annual alumni game next weekend at Trager Stadium. 


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Louisville softball hosts Longwood for two games Saturday and a game on Sunday at Ulmer Stadium. Longwood, you say? The Lancers participate in the Mid South Conference and the school is located in Farmville, VA. (No..we're not making that up). 


First pitch of the double-header is scheduled for noon. 


The break from conference action could give Sandy Pearsall a chance to get some at bat and field time in for some of the Cardinal softball players who aren't a part of the regular starting lineups. 

We just wish the Saturday games didn't conflict with the Spring Football game out at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium which starts at 1 p.m. We would have liked to seen a twilight double-header...maybe starting the first game at 5 p.m. and giving some of the 20,000 or so expected for the football contest the chance to head over to Ulmer and catch the softball Cards.  



Louisville (35-2) is #12 in the nation and 3rd. in the BIG EAST with a 9-2 conference record. Cardinal softball fans will want to mark their calenders for Weds. April 18th. League leading South Florida comes to town for a double header at Ulmer that begins at 4 p.m. If you haven't caught the softball Cards in action yet this year, this would be a perfect opportunity to see them against the BIG EAST's best and, remember, Ulmer now has beer sales...so bring that cranky neighbor from across the street with you and get him loosened up with a couple of ice cold Budweisers...


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CARDINAL COUPLE IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE A NEW WEEKLY FEATURE FOR THE SITE. 


We will be giving you coverage of local horse racing. Whether it's historic Keeneland, legendary Churchill Downs, local trainers, owners of interest or just a recap of how our day went at the track...you asked for it and you got it. 


We'll also preview the important races leading up to the First Saturday in May and even toss in a few picks for you. 


We do realize this isn't women's sports at UofL and that is still our main emphasis and focus here at CARDINAL COUPLE. There are a lot of women involved in the horse-racing industry, though and we'll try to pin-point and high-light them. 


Today's inaugural article covers two things...a look at "Mr. Churchill Downs" and some picks for Keeneland's Saturday Bluegrass Stakes. Enjoy and feel free to offer your own opinions on this venture and your Derby selections if you like...


Perhaps the most recognizable figure at the Twin Spires is Vice-President of Racing Communications John Asher. The Leitchfield, KY native migrated to Churchill after "matriculating" at Western Kentucky University and stints as a reporter at WAVE and WHAS TV.  


You gotta love John and his always optimistic and energetic opinions and commentary when it comes to Churchill and horse racing. WE call him "Mr. Churchill Downs". and if there is anyone out there with more knowledge of all things Kentucky Derby, we haven't met them yet.


John loves what he does and has been a fan of horse racing since he was a little boy. He tells the story of his first ever visit to Churchill as a 12 yr. old boy...his parents putting him on a bus to send him to his aunt's house in Shively and her accompanying him to the track. He fell in love with the Twin Spires at first sight and it's been a life-long infatuation ever since. 


John, despite his denial, is a excellent handicapper and also calls a great race when given the chance on television, radio or in the "commentator's booth" at Churchill. 


For Paul, Derby Fever doesn't kick into high gear until he hears  John's annual address to the members of Sportsmen's Supper Club in April. He got that fix last night and is pumped and ready to go.


In a whirlwind 30 minutes, John will take you through the events, contenders and past history of "the greatest two minutes in sports" and it's a vivid, fact-filled and entertaining salute to the sport of kings and the Run for the Roses. 


Churchill and John go together like Todd Pletcher and Gulfstream Park. And, the man is quite accessible if you visit Churchill. Strolling the bricks between the administrative offices to the clubhouse or leading visitors on an impromptu tour of the track...a friend of ours teases that there are actually five John Asher's...because he seems to be everywhere at the same time. 


John's picks for the Derby are UNION RAGS and HANSEN. This disappoints us greatly...because WE like both those three year olds as well and John never picks the winner. 


John likes to end his talks to groups with a quote from the late, great sportswriter Mike Barry. Barry's quip is classic and oh, so true. 


"I hope to break even at the track today. I could use the money."


One of the Kentucky Derby prep races will take place at Keeneland Saturday. The Bluegrass Stakes has a field of 13 horses entered and the odds-on favorite will be the grey, almost white, hard-charging HANSEN. Hansen should jump to the lead at the start, fly like Shoni Schimmel on a fast break and play "come catch me" with the rest of the field. WE think he'll win with ease on the poly-track surface. He loves the artificial stuff, getting his first two lifetime wins in the sawdust at Turfway Park. Picking up the pieces in case he falters could be Dullahan, Prospective, Howe Great or Gung Ho (Sonja's long-shot special). 


If Hansen romps as expected, he could be the favorite for the Kentucky Derby. We're not normally big backers or fans of horses who switch from poly-track to dirt, but HANSEN has proven he can run equally well on either surface and we think "Big Whitey" could handle a grass surface easily as well. This is a horse you could toss in a pool full or jello or oatmeal and he'd still find his way to the lead and win. 


Trained by top-notch Michael Maker, HANSEN will break out of the 4 spot in the gate and have cagey jockey Ramon Dominguez on board. 


Good luck, speed-ball! We've loved ya since we saw you romp the field by 12 lengths in your first race ever and hope that you get your picture taken in the winner's circle at Keeneland tomorrow. 
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