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Monday, April 30, 2012

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MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


-Cards sweep Georgetown series with Sunday win to go 25-0 at home. 


-Another McCoughtry


(Photo by Sandy Walker) UofL Softball team watches
highlights video on scoreboard.
The University of Louisville softball team said farewell to three seniors Sunday in the final regular season home game of the year and defeated Georgetown 3-0 to go to 47-2 on the season and 17-2 in BIG EAST play.


Collins delivers a two
hitter in five innings.
Senior Tori Collins pitched five innings of two-hit softball and Louisville put up a run in the third, fifth and sixth innings to defeat the Hoyas...who drop to 19-32 and 3-15 in the BIG EAST. 


A pitcher's duel through two and a half innings before Louisville broke the ice when Katie Keller singled with two outs in the bottom of the third and scored on Alicja Wolny's triple to give the Cards a 1-0 advantage.


Coach P 25-0 in Ulmer
in the regular season.
Louisville added their second run when freshman Whitney Arion led off the inning with a single and eventually scored on Jennifer Esteban's infield single.


The Cards increased the lead to 3-0 in the sixth. Maggie Ruckenbrod singled and Kirsten Straley came in to pinch-run and advanced on a ground-out and steal... touching home when Taner Fowler singled.


Louisville turned three
hits into three runs Sunday
Collins gave Louisville five strong innings after a shaky start when Georgetown had runners on second and third in the top of the first and just one out. She got Taylor Koenig on a play at the plate when Macensey Carter tapped a grounder to third baseman Kayla Soles. The throw to home and Ruckenbrod got the second out of the inning and Collins struck out the next Hoya batter to get out of the jam. 


Collins had five strikeouts on the day and sophomore Chelsea Leonard picked up her ninth save of the season with two innings of one-hit relief. 


Ruckenbrod's tag out at home kept
the Collins shut-out intact. 
Besides Collins, utility player Tesha Paysen and outfielder Kristin Austin graduate for the 2012 Cardinals. They discuss their career at UofL with Cardinal roving reporter Jared Stillman at the link below. Austin leads the BIG EAST with a .420 batting average going into today's game.




LINK:
UofL Softball seniors discuss their careers at UofL

Cardinal softball seniors Kristin Austin, Tori Collins
and Tesha Paysen
The #9 Cards travel to Knoxville for a game against #6 Tennessee Wednesday ( Hey, Fox Sports South...how about picking this one up for broadcast?) and finish up the regular season Derby weekend with three games at St. John's on May 5-6. Then, it's BIG EAST Tournament time in South Bend starting Thursday, May 10th...where the Cards hope to be the #1 seed. 


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We wonder if Rick would let
this McCoughtry ride his
McCoughtry?
We all remember the exploits of Angel McCoughtry on the court for the University of Louisville women's basketball. The Atlanta Dream WNBA star prepares for the start of the season in just a few days and will help pursue USA Women's Basketball's goals of bringing home the gold later this summer in the Olympics. 


We doubt the McCoughtry horse
can do much at the charity stripe...
even though the old Herb Crook
tongue move is in place.
There is another McCoughtry out there as well. This one is a 3 year old filly owned by Rick Pitino and trained by James Jerkins, Jr. called A.McCoughtry who ran today at Belmont in her second race ever. Despite starting dead last in the six furlong race, jockey Sam Camacho, Jr. got her motivated in the stretch and she finished a closing 4th in maiden special weight company out of nine runners. Back on March 25th, the filly from Overbrook Farms was a closing third at Aqueduct Race Course in her first race ever.


A.McCoughtry has won $9500 in two races and won't be running in the Kentucky Oaks obviously this Friday at Churchill...but is being kept in maiden special weight company -- which means no one can claim her out of a race and purchase her. (You know John Calipari...he'd probably try to pull off the dastardly deed.) 


Rick could start a stable of horses named
after Cardinal basketball players.  Would Kyle
Kuric or Asia Taylor make the cut? 
Pitino, the primary owner of RAP Stables, has also mentioned he was naming a couple of his young charges Gorgui and Peyton...after a couple of his current Cardinals. 


Hey, maybe the Cardinal coach will make a habit of it. Anyone up to seeing future Pitino fillies named M.Reid, T.Gibbs or S.Schimmel take the oval at Churchill Downs down the road? 
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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Softball takes two against Georgetown

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SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


-Softball takes two from Georgetown 4-0, 11-0


-Kelly Meyers Rothberg not retained as women's golf coach.


-Joe Tartamella named St John's WBB head coach


-Oh, hail yes...opening night at Churchill interrupted by the elements


Cardinal pitching recorded two shutouts Saturday and allowed just five Georgetown hits in 12 innings. The Cardinal bats exploded for 19 hits and 15 runs against the Hoyas. Louisville goes to 46-2 with the wins, and still holds a one game lead in the BIG EAST. 


GAME ONE


Louisville got a big performance from Katelyn Mann, who had two hits and a home run in three at-bats. The Cards tacked their first run on the Ulmer Stadium scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning when Jennifer Esteban led off with a triple and scored on a Katie Keller sacrifice fly .


The Cards put three more runs up to complete the scoring in the fourth inning. Jordan Trimble homered  to left to make it 2-0 Louisville and after a Maggie Ruckenbrod single, Mann blasted the first pitch from Georgetown's Lauren O'Leary over the center-field fence to give UofL a four run lead. 


Tori Collins gave the Cards five strong innings of pitching...the senior allowed just one hit and struck out three. Chelsea Leonard got the save with two innings of two hit pitching.


GAME TWO


Caralisa Connell got the start in game two and Louisville gave her the only actual run she needed in the bottom of the second when Trimble doubled and scored on a Whitney Arion single. 


The Cards were nowhere near done touching home plate, though. 


Katie Keller started the third inning with a double. She scored when Alicja Wolny's fly ball was dropped. Taner Fowler smashed a line drive down the left field line next to score pinch-runner Chrisanna Roberts. Ruckenbrod made it 5-0 with a single. After Mann drew a walk, Arion got her second and third RBI's of the game with her second hit of the contest, a deep double to center. It was 7-0 Louisville and looking good.


The Cards added four more runs in the third. Keller led off with a walk, Wolny singled and Fowler reached on a error to load the bags with Cardinals. A walk to Trimble sent home Keller, Mann grounded out to score Wolny and Arion's double plated Fowler and Trimble to make it 11-0


Connell gave Louisville five strong innings to go to 16-1....allowing just two hits and striking out three. 


The teams will play the final game of the series Sunday. 


*******************************************


After 12 years as the University of Louisville women's golf coach, Kelly Meyers Rothberg's contract will not be renewed for next season. The Cards recently finished play with a third place finish in the BIG EAST Tournament and are "on the bubble" for the NCAA Tournament. 


Not many details are available at the time of this printing about the move. Charlie Springer, of UofL Card Game, delivers the story at the link below:


Rothberg won't return as Cardinals' Women's Golf coach

*******************************************


St John's has named Joe Tartamella as the new head coach of women's basketball. He has been an associate coach for the Red Storm for the past nine years. Tartamella takes over for former head coach Kim Barnes Arico, who recently accepted the head coaching spot at Michigan. 


Tartamella's scouting and game planning tactics have been a prime reason for the success the Red Storm has experienced over the past several years. He began as a Red Storm graduate assistant in 2002 and was promoted to associate coach in 2008. 

The Red Storm has been to four NCAA Tournaments and gotten two NIT bids since Tartamella has been at St. John's and he has helped develop 19 All-BIG EAST and All-Rookie players. 



Nice to see the Red Storm stay within the ranks with this hire. Joe is widely been seen a rising star in the associate coaching ranks and he has a talented and experienced squad returning for the 2012-13 season. 


*******************************************


Hierro a hero for Julian Leparoux 
Opening night at Churchill Downs was interrupted between the fourth and fifth races last night when a strong thunderstorm with inch sized hail swept through the Louisville area. Racing resumed at 8:45 p.m. after a lengthy delay of almost an hour because of the elements. 


Hail in grassy area of CD paddock
Members of the jockey's guild and head of track maintenance Butch Lehr inspected the conditions after the track had been "floated" by tractors and deemed it OK to run on. Conditions were changed from "fast" to "sloppy" and the 10th race was removed from the turf and run on the dirt. 


Crowded and cozy conditions under the Clubhouse cover developed while mother nature unleashed her fury. A large crowd attended the start of the Spring Meet at Churchill. Almost 27,000. 



The start of the 8th race -- the Derby Trial --  was delayed about 30 minutes while a farrier tried to change shoes on the #4 horse...Nonious...in the paddock. area. The attempt failed, and the horse was finally scratched from the race. Post time favorite at 3-2 was Paynter, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia. Track conditions were still "sloppy" as the horses finally hit the race track and loaded into the starting gate. 


Hierro leaves Paynter behind near the wire
Hierro, ridden by Julian Leparoux and trained by Steve Asmussen, proved to be the best of the eight runners. A strong stretch drive pushed him past Paynter for the win. Finishing third was Stealcase and Bourbon Courage completed the superfecta. Hierro went off at 5 to 1 odds and paid $12.00 to win. 


Fun times at the Twin Spires Saturday night. A crowd of over 26,000 outlasted the elements and enjoyed acts from Circus de Soilel out the the paddock area...as well as a DJ pumping the grooves out. 


Party in the Paddock!
Night racing at Churchill is nothing like the regular days of racing at the Central Ave. oval. The crowd is younger, larger and more lively. It's a fun and welcome diversion from the normal events and activities at Churchill. It gets people through the gates and although some racing purists stay away because of the party-style antics and Mardi Gras feel to the track on those evenings...it is a energy-drink boost to an industry that will accept and certainly needs all the new fans it can handle. 


WE talked to John F.. (last name withheld by request) about the difference the Downs takes on at night...


John also likes Keeneland
"It's fun...almost electric out here at night. The girls are everywhere and looking fine. Me and a few buds...we don't ever miss a night racing event out here. I went online and got tickets for $5 each.  And, the racing is fun too. I mean, I caught the best jockey out there, in Julian Leparoux, tonight on a 5-1, man! If you're a good handicapper, you can cash out sweet here on racing nights, because the odds are there if you know what to look for. And, there are babes everywhere..." 


Derby one week away...racing resumes at CD on Tuesday.


If you like reading about horse racing, here's one of many sites that cover the sport. 


The Rail


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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Softball at Ulmer...Our staff with some picks

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SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

-Softball Cards look to stay in first in BIG EAST

-Some picks with a week to go before Derby

Georgetown visits Ulmer Stadium today with a big assignment. Beating the Louisville Cardinal softball team. It's only been done twice this year. DePaul accomplished that task at the end of March and on April Fools Day...so we really can't count the second defeat, right?

44-2. We hope it goes to 46-2 by 6 p.m. this evening. 

***********************************************************

The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby is next Saturday. Here are "the top four" according to some of our writers and friends. As you'll see, there is no clear cut favorite among this group. Should stack up to be one heck of a exciting horse race! 


Paul                                                  David Watson

Dullahan                                           Optimizer
Bodemeister                                      Gemologist
I'll Have Another                             I'll Have Another
Gemologist                                        Done Talking

Sonja                                                Commish Mark

Hansen                                              Mark Valeski
Take Charge Indy                           Sabercat
Bodemeister                                     Daddy Long Legs
Dullahan                                          Creative Cause

Arch                                                  Nate

Union Rags                                       I'll Have Another
Gemologist                                        Creative Cause
Bodemeister                                      Trinniberg
Daddy Nose Best                              Alpha




Here are some picks by people who do this stuff for a living:


Mike Wachmaker: Dullahan, Creative Cause, Hansen, Union Rags 


Dave Liftin: Creative Cause, Union Rags, Daddy Nose Best, Bodemeiser


Steve Klein: Bodemeister, Gemologist, Union Rags, Creative Cause


Mary Rampellini: Union Rags, Hansen, Gemologist, Bodemeister


Even the folks who are good at this stuff and write about it can't agree. 


One week to go. Tonight, Churchill opens and the Derby Trial will be run for the first time ever at night. If you haven't been before, night racing is an exciting event and the crowd will be huge. 

This race doesn't produce much in the way of Derby Candidates anymore...most trainers and owners don't like running their Derby prospects a week before the Run for the Roses...but it will be an exciting one. Keep your eyes on Paynter, Bourbon Courage and The Black in tonight's feature race.



******************************************************


(If you've come here today to look for an article by Sonja, we have removed it. As fans and humans, sometimes emotions can over-rule clear and correct rationality. If anyone was offended by the writings earlier, WE apologize. That was not our intent. Something that comes with the responsibility of running a daily website is moderation and control.)


Her remarks were in reaction to Paul's disappointment of some unexpected news that CARDINAL COUPLE got on Friday. She doesn't like to see "the big guy" hurt and disappointed. 


Have a great weekend and get out and enjoy the events of the day, whatever they run into. If you participated in the mini-marathon today, congratulations! You are a winner, no matter how, when and where you finished!
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Friday, April 27, 2012

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FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


-Softball hosts Georgetown for final regular season home series starting Saturday. 


-Shine, Fellerhoff get tennis awards


-Jeff Walz Lady Cards Camps and Clinics info


-Louisville WBB tidbits.


The University of Louisville softball team (44-2, 14-2) will host Georgetown (19-29, 3-12) in the final regular season home-stand of the season for the Cards. Two games...beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday...and one game Sunday. 


Louisville sits atop the BIG EAST leaderboard by one game with six BIG EAST games remaining. USF is 13-3 in BIG EAST play, Notre Dame 10-3 and Syracuse 12-4.


Georgetown comes to Louisville after hosting and dropping a double-header to Villanova on Wednesday 4-1 and 4-3. 


After the Georgetown series, the Cards will play a non-conference game in Knoxville against Tennessee next week on Wednesday and then conclude the regular season with three games at St. John's over Derby weekend. 


The BIG EAST Tournament is a single elimination affair that will begin on Thursday, May 10th at Notre Dame. The top eight teams in the regular season standings participate. If it were starting tomorrow, here's how the seeds and games would match up: 


#1 Louisville vs. #8 St. John's
#2 USF vs. #7 Connecticut
#3 Notre Dame vs. #6 Rutgers
#4 Syracuse vs. #5 DePaul


DePaul is the only team to beat Louisville this year...taking two out of three in Chicago back on March 31st. and April 1st. Syracuse is last year's tournament champion and returns All-Big East pitcher Jenna Caira.


We'll have full coverage of Cardinal softball action this weekend and throughout the BIG EAST tournament and NCAA Tournament here at CARDINAL COUPLE.


*******************************************


Congratulations to women's tennis team sophomores Becca Shine and Julia Fellerhoff on being named to the All-BIG EAST Team. 


Coach Mark Beckham has this to say about the honors bestowed on the duo:


"It's good to see that the other coaches in the conference have a lot of respect for Julia and Becca's games. This is a great reward for Julia, since she missed the beginning of the year with a broken foot. She worked really hard to get back and had a successful season. This will definitely motivate her for next year. Hopefully, she'll stay injury-free and push for player of the year. She definitely has the ability to do it. Becca is unbelievable. She came to us from Augusta, GA. and nobody really knew who she was but I thought she could be really good in time. She is way ahead of schedule, for her to have already been ranked nationally in singles and doubles. To only be a sophomore is a quick progression. Now that she has been named BIG EAST All-Conference, I can't say enough good things about her. She is a special player, for sure." 


UofL finished tied for third in the BIG EAST Tournament...going in as a #6 seed. They upset #3 seed Syracuse but were defeated by #2 seed Notre Dame in the semi-finals. 


*******************************************


"OK! Hustle that firewood in here
and someone start making S'mores!"
So...who wants to go camping with Jeff Walz? Mind you, this won't be a  tents, campfire, roasting weenies and marshmallows type of camping...it's three women's basketball skills camps for individuals and teams. 


The fun begins June 4th. with a Day Camp for grades 3-8. It goes thru June 7th. 


Two other camps will also be offered...a team camp June 8-10 with JV and Varsity Divisions and a Elite Skills Session for grades 7-12 on June 14th. 


You can contact Mary Beth Whitaker at 852-8355 or mbwhit08@Louisville.edu for pricing and more information. 


Also, here's a link for additional info:


Lady Cards Camps and Clinics

Sonja laughing about the whirlpool
and how much "Ben-Gay"
she'll need tomorrow.
We hope Walz will also have a 'past their prime' refresher camp someday for ex-high school players over 35 who still think they 'got it' and thought they were 'all that'. Sonja would dominate in that one. Unless A.J. or Valerie Owens Combs showed up to play. And, we're not saying either of them are over 35. I learned a long time ago, when it comes to things not to bring up...


Never reveal or ask about a woman's age.


Charlie Strong holds a day long women's football skills and learning camp each year. We're thinking a day- long WBB camp just might draw a few ladies. 


*******************************************


UofL WBB fans will be glad to know that Monique Reid has received her notice from the NCAA that she can officially play in the upcoming season...we're hearing from a very credible source. 


We knew she would. We think it's great! Watch Mo & Co. lead the Cards past the Elite Eight! 


We also have fielded a few e-mails about Jeff Walz's sudden interest in players from overseas. 


Talent is talent, no matter if it comes from your backyard over overseas. Both Monny and Amanda got serious experience playing for their national teams while in high school. Experience is good, folks. 


We remember a few years ago when Tom Collen had Yuliya Tokova, Valeriya Musina and Tatjana Boston on the roster...all foreign players in high school. They were valuable contributors to the Cards during their stays and just because foreign players are being recruited doesn't mean that state-side talent isn't available. 


Good basketball player are good basketball players...whether they're from Russia or Russellville. 




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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Softball defeats IU 6-4

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THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


-Keller's blast leads Cards softball to 6-4 win


-A Derby to remember...the Watson files


The University of Louisville softball team improved to 44-2 with a 6-4 win over the Indiana Hoosier in Bloomington, IN. Wednesday afternoon. Stepping up for the Cards was Katie Keller...whose two run blast in the top of the fifth inning broke up a 4-4 tie and the base clearer proved to be all the Cards would need to secure the win.


Tori Collins started the game for Louisville at pitcher and survived a scare in the first inning when IU had a runner on second with just one out. Collins pitched out of the jam, though and retired the Hoosiers in order in the second inning.


Louisville wasn't putting a dent in Meaghan Murphy's pitching performance, though...going down 1-2-3 in the first two innings...and neither team had a hit going into the third inning.


The Cards changed that. With one out, Maggie Ruckenbrod doubled down the left field line and advanced to third on a Whitney Arion single to right. 
Ruckenbrod scored when Arion stole second and the IU catcher committed a throwing error. Jennifer Esteban reached next on a fielders choice and both scored on Kristin Austin's eighth  triple of the year to left field. Austin crossed the plate next on a Katie Keller fly out to right and the top half of the inning ended with Louisville up 4-0. 


IU rallied back. After a Murphy double off Collins, Jenna Abraham crushed a Collins pitch to center and it cleared the fence, cutting the Cardinal lead in half. Collins finally got her first out of the inning on a ground out, but Shannon Cawley reached on a Whitney Arion throwing error to first and Amanda Wagner hit her ninth homer of the year to right center to tie the game. 


Coach Pearsall had seen enough and Caralisa Connell came in to relieve Collins on the stripe. Connell got the Cards out of the inning with no further damage. 


Louisville took the lead for good when Esteban singled with one out in the top of the fifth and one out later Keller sent Mr. Spalding over the left field fence to make it 6-4 Cards. 


Connell encountered a late IU attempt to score in the bottom of the sixth. After walking Wagner, Connell got Samantha Berenter to go down swinging, Sandy Gogrieve to ground out and struck out IU catcher Cassie Gogrieve with Wagner on third to end the inning. 


Louisville had a chance to add to the total in the top of the seventh when Esteban singled with one out and was on third with two outs...but Keller lined out to center to end the inning. Connell retired the Hoosiers 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh to record her 15th win of the season against just one loss. She allowed no hits in 4 2/3 innings and struck out four.


44-2. A most incredible season so far and the Cards return home for their final home series of the regular season against Georgetown this weekend.


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(David Watson is a special columnist for CARDINAL COUPLE. These days, he's also a dad who is going through the rigors of having a teenage daughter getting ready to go to college this fall. HE takes a break from the drama to relate to us a special Derby memory today)


First of all, my column today is a really long one. Have a snack and hit the facilities before starting on it. 


It was 1995. I was a proud papa for the first time and struggling with academia, 3 a.m. feedings and panicking every time Andrea would cry, remain silent or even look at us funny. If you've been there, you'll understand. If you're there currently, hang in there. It gets easier after three kids. A whole new set of issues rise to the surface. 


We were shuttling back and forth between two cities on the weekends and entertaining at home as relatives, parents and friends all wanted to see this "Watson miracle" -- a baby produced by the guy who had sworn he'd never marry -- much less have a kid -- and the girl who knew all the Pat Benetar hits by heart. By the end of April, we were stressed, dealing with postpartum depression and needing a break. 


It was Sandy's parents who suggested the three day getaway. Take 72 hours for yourself. Get away, go find yourselves again for a few days and leave the baby with us. They were vets at this -- having five kids and 12 grand kids on their resume. We decided to do it and my cousin Billy invited us to Louisville for the first weekend in May. KENTUCKY DERBY time in the River City. We'd never been. Seen it on TV several times. Neither of us big horse racing fans. But, "cuz" was persistent, so we dropped off Andrea Thursday night with Chuck and Molly, hit I-65 South and rolled into Billy's around 9 p.m.


He was charmingly tipsy when we showed up and he's a funny guy when he gets that way. Was going on and on about a parade he'd been to, a boat race he'd attended the day before and how his wife Brenda wasn't speaking to him. He told me of how much money he and I were going to make at the track Friday and Saturday. Friday is Oaks Day in Louisville and the four of us were attending Churchill Downs for racing. Going to the "infield" (as he called it). Saturday is Derby Day and he had four seats in the grandstands for us. The evening flew by, his wife Brenda came home and kept us rolling in laughter with stories of her bunco club meeting that evening, while shooting him icy stares and ignoring him. We later learned that these were their "happy" moments. Oy vey. 


We slept that night in his basement with Ralph and Waldo, his two basset hounds. He had a full bar in his basement and around 3 a.m. I awoke, my back in screaming agony from sleeping on his roll out bed. While my wife snored, Ralph, Waldo and I had a few "nightcaps" 


The next morning it was off to the races for the Oaks. He had a parking spot within a couple of blocks of the track that he had gone to for several years. Winding through a maze of back roads and alleys around the track to get there, because of road closures for buses and the like, we arrived and parked in this guy named Mikey's back yard. We weren't the first there. Mikey greeted us with Bloody Mary's and solicitously asked us for $20. I forked over the cash and minutes later we were walking down Central Avenue toward the infield. 


Mint juleps are nasty drinks. Stop me if you've been there. They don't grow on you, either -- but they are wondrous for relieving back pain. Armed with a program, I sat on a blanket in the infield and studied the races ahead. A few minutes later, I got a nudge in the side from Billy. It was my first "topless" viewing of the day. And, unlike the mint juleps, those got better as the day went on. 


We were on the "backside" of the infield, pressed up against the fence and got to see the horses dash by us each race. Next to us was a group of Michigan State students. They had managed to smuggle into the infield 15 fifths of bourbon! I can't tell you how they did that because they wouldn't tell me. They had two coolers full of ice and we became close friends by the third race, despite my Notre Dame connection. By the eighth race, I quit betting. I was 1 for 8 on winners for the day and getting tired of staggering through the masses of humanity to the betting windows and losing each time. Billy, on the other hand, was having a phenomenal day. Hitting exactas, trifectas, across the board wagers and the daily double. He disappeared for about an hour during the course of the afternoon and came back to our blanket with an old high school friend. Can't remember her name, but the looks she got from Brenda I'll never forget. Fortunately, she staggered over to the college kids party and a few minutes later, we saw her "raise her shirt" as well. All in a day work.




Finally, it was over. I was down $120 dollars for the day, when you consider the wagering, beverages and food I had purchased. Billy was flashing 100's at me and tossed me a couple when he came back from the window after the final race. I protested at first, but eventually stuffed them into the front pocket of my blue jeans.


The rest of that day and evening are still a bit of a blur. We made it back to Mikey's, had a few Bloody Mary's and eventually made it back to the house. We visited a steak house. I think I ordered fish. I remember nodding off in the living room, listening to the three of them carry on about the day's events. I woke up with Ralph and Waldo in the basement. We repeated the previous evening's "nightcap" scenario and Saturday morning rolled around way too early. 


The difference between the carnal hedonism of Churchill Downs' infield and the sedate, stuffy seats of the grandstands is striking. We were sitting high in the stands, almost at the very end of the structure and I had an elderly dowager from the east end of Louisville sitting next to me, aloof and stoic. 


"I'm from Prospect." I can still hear her announcing. Billy told her he was from Pleasure Ridge Park. She looked aghast.


Aisle seats, though, and near the exit to the food, drinks and restrooms underneath the seats. We had parked at Mikey's again ($25 dollars for Derby Day) had the customary Bloody Mary but that is where the similarities ended. No shirt-raising, bottles of bourbon or blankets in the Grandstands. The mint juleps still tasted as nasty, though.


By the fourth race of Derby Day, I was bored out of my mind and went to wander the property. Billy wasn't having the phenomenal success of the day before and second-guessing his handicapping -- nose buried in the racing form. Brenda had Sandy engaged in non-stop chatter and I bolted. I had lost all three races I had bet and still had the two hundred dollar bills Billy had given me tucked in my wallet. In the grandstands, there are lines for everything. Food, drink, betting and mother nature breaks. 


I became the wandering vagabond. I decided to try and see if I could get to the legendary "Millionaire's Row" of Churchill Downs. With a bit of trickery and skulduggery, I made it to the clubhouse and to the third floor. My journey stopped there, though. Grim, unhumorous security attendants were keeping vigil. I headed back to the grandstand and was on a escalator when I heard a booming "David!". It was a colleague from Notre Dame behind me and we met at the bottom, talked for several minutes. He was there with another professor and was bored, like me. I told him of the previous day's exploits in the infield. 


"Let's go!" he exclaimed, and 30 minutes later we were out in the mix again. Two guys looking for ribald and seemy adventure. I took him back to the spot from the day before near the fence. The Michigan State crew was in full form and greeted me with cheers and guffaws at my sport jacket and tie apparel. 


By the eighth race, we were both buzzed and my friend was carrying on a conversation with a girl half his age. Mission accomplished, I bid my farewells, left him in the capable hands of the co-ed and headed back to the grandstands. 


My arrival was greeted with questions and inquisitions on my whereabouts. Billy was having a horrible day with his handicapping and Brenda had slightly twisted an ankle by stepping on a beer can en route to the "facilities". The vote was 2-2 on whether to stay or go -- now that the prodigal son had returned. I looked to the dowager for a tie-breaker. She had loosened up a little, several beer cups surrounded her feet, and she admonished.


"You can't leave before the Kentucky Derby is run!" 


That cinched it for me. I offered to go fetch food for all. It met with approval. Billy went with me and we made it back with 30 minutes before the Derby. I decided to bet the race. Sandy decided to go to the window with me. Down the steps I went again.


She liked the name Tejano Run and asked me to bet a "across the board" wager on the horse. She asked me who I liked. I told her that trainer D. Wayne Lukas had three horses in the Derby and I was going to bet each one to win. I had gleaned this information earlier from one of the MSU guys. 


"Hey, he has three going. One should win, right?" 


It made sense. I dug into the wallet. I had one of the hundred dollar bills left and a fifty from Billy's generosity. The teller looked at me. I gulped and told him I wanted $50 to win on each Lukas horse. He frowned and asked me for the horse numbers. I had left my program in my seat. Rookie error. He sighed and looked at his, next to his betting board. I asked him for Tejano Run across the board as well. $160 dollars handed over, four returned. My wife looked at me as if my hair was on fire. I shrugged. It was the Derby. The MSU boys thought it was a good strategy. It was Billy's money and I had "inside information."  


We got back to the seats with four minutes to spare. Billy was a Tejano Run fan as well. Considerably heavier than Sandy's six dollar wager. He had changed tactics. Place and show, no win wager. 


They started the race. All stood and screamed as the horses ran by us the first time. I yelled out the numbers of my horses. I couldn't tell who was where, but the dowager's husband had binoculars and was yelling out the numbers of the horses in the lead. I wasn't hearing my numbers. They hit the top of the stretch and I yelled my numbers louder. Then, as the crowd went crazy, a horse began to pull away from the pack. I looked at my program. The silks colors matched the #11 horse and Mr. Dowager confirmed. Thunder Gulch. I listened intently to the racecallers' report. It was Thunder Gulch! A D. Wayne Lukas horse! AT 25-1 odds. 


Thunder Gulch won the 1995 Kentucky Derby and paid $51 on a $2 win ticket. I got back $1275. Sandy got back $17 on Tejano Run's second place finish and Billy cashed in for $340. I still have the program where I wrote all that information down. It's in a frame in our upstairs hallway, next to a baby picture of Andrea.


We went back to their house that night and I laid the $200 Billy had given me the day before on their kitchen table. He accepted it and told me, with that, he was almost "even" for the day. Brenda was in a wonderful mood that night and Sandy and I retreated downstairs shortly after we got back to their place. I had driven us back from the track and the two of them were acting like two raging hormone teenagers in the back seat most of the drive. I had a celebratory drink with Ralph and Waldo and was asleep minutes after.


We used part of the winnings to re-do the nursery room for Andrea. My cousin Billy still talks about that day, that weekend. We haven't been to a Derby since. We watch each year on television, though and I call him and have him put $2 to win on any horse that D. Wayne Lukas has running in the Derby. I figure I owe D. Wayne that much. He and Brenda still go each year. Same seats, he takes his sons now. He sits there for the Oaks these days, too. Churchill Downs makes him buy for both days. He told me a few years back that the dowager queen passed away. Her husband attended a couple of years after that and then a real estate agent from Owensboro, KY was sitting there the next year with his wife. He says they're a nice couple.


Brenda had the first of their two sons almost nine months after our visit in 1995. I'd like to think I'm in some small way responsible. And, not in the way some of you are thinking.   


D. Wayne Lukas won the 1996 and 1999 Derbies too. He hasn't won since. I figure I'm still way ahead on him, though. 


( D. Wayne Lukas is the trainer of Optimizer this year but needs a couple of defections in order for the horse to run, since he is 22nd. on the earnings list and only 20 can go. ) 


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

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WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


-Meet the first recruit of the 2014 class for CARDINAL WBB


-Women's golf finishes third in BIG EAST Championship


-Softball Cards head to Bloomington for IU game


The University of Louisville has their first official recruit out of the class of 2014 and she's a big one. UofL head basketball coach Jeff Walz has offered 6'4", 285 lb. sophomore Ayanna Edwards a scholarship over the weekend. The Sacramento, CA post player led her Sacramento Dragons high school team to the Northern California Division III championships again this spring and she has also drawn the interest of several PAC-12 schools, according to reports. 


"Tise" is Paul's favorite all-time center
for the Lady Cards. Injuries cut short a
career that saw her post the best shooting
percentage in the BIG EAST back in the
2007-2008 season at .608 as a junior.
She reminds scouts of ex-Texas A&M star Danielle Adams and dominates in the paint on both ends of the court. Speed and quickness down the court seem to be about the only thing lacking in "Shaq's" game, according to her high school coach Michelle Massari. The Cards haven't has a big, imposing center since the days of Chauntise Wright and an option like Ayanna would be beneficial to the Cards and Coach Walz against some of the brutal front lines Louisville faces in BIG EAST play.


Edwards plays for the same team that current Pittsburgh center Kyra Dunn starred for. She was also teammates with shooting guard Jasmine Ware this past season...who committed to UCSB in August. 


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The Louisville women's golf team shot a sizzling 295 in the final round of the BIG EAST Championships Tuesday to finish third with an overall score of 918. South Florida took the title with a 3-day score of 910...one stroke better than runner-up Notre Dame. 


Louisville freshman Emily Haas tied for first place with Notre Dame freshman Ashley Armstrong but lost on the third hole of a playoff. Haas had a 223 total for the 54 hole event. 


Katie Petrino fired a closing round 71 to finish fifth with a 225. Her 71 was the only sub-par round of the championship. Sophomore Tara Lyons and junior Candice Wiley each toured the Reunion Resort and Club with closing day duplicate 76's and 3-day scores of 236, good for 16th place. Senior Maria Castellanos was one stroke back with a 237 total. 


The Cards hope their finish will put them playing next in the NCAA Regionals. The Central Regionals will take place May 10-12 at the Ohio State Golf Course in Columbus, OH. Senior Anna-Karin Llungstrom, sidelined earlier this season with thumb surgery, should be ready to go if Louisville qualifies.


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#9 Louisville softball heads to Bloomington, IN today for a 2 p.m. tilt against the Indiana Hoosiers. The Cards (43-2) go into the contest after sweeping the 3-game series against Seton Hall last weekend. 


Indiana (23-22) went 2-2 last week, losing at Ball State and taking two out of three against visiting Big Ten foe Northwestern. 


Either freshman Lora Olson (13-13) or sophomore Meaghan Murphy (10-9) will draw the start for IU against the hot-hitting Cards. Olson has two shutouts on the season and Murphy is a converted right fielder-1st baseman from last season.


At bat, the Hoosiers' Amanda Wagner leads the way with a .371 average and eight home runs this season. Jenna Abraham is batting .323 and has six homers. 


Louisville will look to the hot bats of Taner Fowler, Alicja Wolny, Katie Keller, Jordan Trimble, Kristin Austin and crew to soften up the IU pitching. Austin leads the BIG EAST with a .424 batting average and Fowler is third at .384


The Cards are batting .313 as a team this year and the only BIG EAST squad hitting over .300. 


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Horses, Cardinals and Coaches...oh, my!

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TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


-Who will win the Kentucky Derby? Where's the dartboard ???


-Fowler, Collins sweep BIG EAST awards


-Walz a travelling man this time of year.


-Golf in third place after second day of BIG EAST Tournament


The big grey/white Hansen will be
easy to spot on the track
Kentucky Derby 138 is on Saturday, May 5th. With a dozen shopping days until the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports, the picture on a clear favorite is as murky as the Ohio River after several days of rain. Today, we try to make a little sense of it all. Just in case, we've got the dart board converted to 'horses running' and darts ready to throw. It may just be the most logical way to pick them for the Run for the Roses.


Bodemeister destroyed the field
in the Arkansas Derby
Any discussion of Derby favorites should probably include the following horses. Bodemeister, winner of the Arkansas Derby by nine lengths for Bob Baffert may be the post time favorite. A lot to like there.


Union Rags, a close third in the Florida Derby and the sentimental favorite with trainer Michael Matz and rider Julian Leparoux is getting rave reviews on his training and strength since the race.


No one has gotten to Gemologist yet.
Dullahan pulled the upset over Hansen in the Blue Grass Stakes and both of those will get bettor play. Dullahan was flying at the end and wowed horseplayers with his finishing kick. You know Hansen will go for the lead and try to take them wire-to-wire on a track he won the Breeder's Cup Juvenile on last fall. He beat Union Rags, Creative Cause, Dullahan and four other Derby contenders that day at Churchill.


I'll Have Another could win another...
Gemologist took the Wood Memorial for Todd Pletcher and Javier Castellano and hasn't been beaten yet. The California invaders I'll Have Another and Creative Cause were neck and neck in the Santa Anita Derby and looked good in doing it. 


Think we're done? No, not hardly. 


El Padrino and Mark Valeski could deliver a nice
price on Derby Day.
Take Charge Indy and Calvin Borel won the Florida Derby and Calvin...yeah, he knows a thing or two about riding and winning at Churchill Downs. El Padrino ran fourth against Borel that day but Pletcher is dismissing that race as a horse not liking the course and will relish Churchill.


Sprinter Trinniberg hasn't tested a distance race yet but blew them away in the Bay Shore and has the breeding to suggest he could "get" a mile and a fourth. Liaison has Baffert and Bejarano and they are a deadly combination, despite the sixth place Santa Anita Derby finish.


That should cover it, right? Think again...


Alpha can kick away from the field in the stretch.
Daddy Long Legs invades from Dubai and won the UAE Derby. He's second on the earnings list for potential Derby runners and has stamina and a closing kick. Mark Valeski, who lost the Louisiana Derby by half a length to longshot Hero of Order, did so while missing a front shoe. Daddy Nose Best is a Steve Asmussen horse that gets Garrett Gomez and won the Sunland Derby. Done Talking finished first in the Illinois Derby and Alpha ran an improving second in New York. Isn't He Clever recently got switched to the Asmussen barn. His eighth place finish in Arkansas was probably another case of "wrong track, wrong day"...he did win the Borderland Derby in impressive fashion.


WE look into our crystal ball for
the Kentucky Derby winner later
this week. Where's the Windex?
Twenty horses will take to the gate at 5:37 p.m. on the first Saturday in May. We've covered 18 of them here who we wouldn't be surprised to see finish first across the wire. 


Like we said earlier, get out the dartboard...


WE will have some selections for our readers later this week from Sonja, Paul and Tommy Boy. Suitable for hamster cage liner. 


Currently, Paul is big on Bodemeister. The Arkansas Derby didn't have the strongest of fields...but the way he ran away and hid from the competition down the stretch sure looked like a Derby winning move...


Sonja is wavering between Gemologist and I'll Have Another these days, in addition to Bodemeiser. 


"Seven horse? Seven horse! Who said anything about
the seven horse!! Inquiry! Steward's objection!" 
Tommy Boy refuses to share any philosophies with us yet. He's too busy trying to figure out what happened to his "sure fire" Pick 4 at Keeneland Sunday. 


Tommy usually does pretty good when it comes to big races. He had last year's Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, in his top three and hit the exacta. 


J.J. not seeing a Hansen Derby win.
J.J. Hysell, one of our favorite handicappers, sees it this way in her Paulick Report...1) Gemologist  2) Bodemeister 3) Union Rags 4) Dullahan. She puts out the In The Money site we have listed on the left side of the board.


Got a early "take" on who you like and why? Shoot us a comment or e-mail. Nothing like the blind leading the deaf, right? 


We're still waiting patiently for Churchill Downs to approve us as "media-pass" worthy. We've been assured that we'll get this approval and we know that their media relations department is quite busy these days. Good things come to those who wait, we guess. Will this one 'come down to the wire'?


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Taner Fowler and Tori Collins were selected for BIG EAST awards for Louisville softball. Fowler was named BIG EAST Player of the Week and she had eight hits, four home runs, eight RBI's and six runs scored in the Cards five wins last week.


She also worked the concession stand, sold programs, directed traffic on Floyd Street and swept the stadium after each game. The Morgantown, KY sophomore alternates between designated hitter, catcher, infield and is a slugger extraordinaire. She leads Louisville with nine home runs this year. 


Tori Collins was named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll for her precise pitching last week, getting three of the five Louisville wins. She allowed 11 hits in 19 innings and is 21-1 on the year. Her ERA is a microscopic 1.11. 

Collins has 564 career strikeouts which is good for 3rd on the all-time Cardinal pitcher list. 



Louisville (43-2) takes a break from BIG EAST action Wednesday to travel to Bloomington and face Indiana University. 


The Cards lead the BIG EAST with a 14-2 record. USF is 13-3, Syracuse 11-3 and Notre Dame 7-3. 


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Ricky Nelson also sang "Garden
Party" and "Poor Little Fool". 
The late Ricky Nelson sung the classic sixties hit Travelin' Man but one wouldn't blame Jeff Walz for humming a few bars of it lately. 

The UofL women's basketball coach has been spanning the nation watching future prospective Cardinal talent from coast-to-coast. He was checking out 2013 mark and #5 ranked Becca Greenwell in Virginia and North Carolina last week. Then it was off to California to catch #1 2013 prospect (oh lord, won't you recruit us a...) Mercedes Russell



Apologies to the late Janis Joplin.


Rumor also has it that Walz offered a scholarship to an outstanding 6'4" sophomore center in the Sacramento area. We're on the story trying to confirm that. With just a couple of days left in the recruiting period, he's also expected to pay a visit to Brownsburg, IN. star Stephanie Mavunga, ranked #3 for 2013.  


Van Halen sings better than Walz. Barely...
There's also a meeting with Swedish sensation Amanda Zahui on campus this week and Lindsey Wilson freshman and  Cardinal target Monny Niamke. 


Yep. Coach is racking up more frequent flyer miles than Van Halen's concert tour lately...


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The UofL women's golf team is in third place after Day Two of the BIG EAST Tournament at Reunion-Watson Course in Reunion, Fla. The Cards took third with a red hot second day score of 311 to give them a two-day total of 623. South Florida leads with 604 and Notre Dame follows with 609.


Haas (center) is a stroke off the lead.
Freshman Emily Haas leads Louisville with a 151 for 36 holes. She's tied for third...just two strokes back of the leaders. Freshman Katie Petrino has had back-to-back 77's and sits in 11th place with a 154. The youth movement on the links seems to be alive and well for Coach K's "grip and rippers". 


Katie Petrino has back-to-
back 77's in Florida.
Maria Castellanos has hit the ball 159 times in two days and Tara Lyons carded duplicate 80's to sit at 160....along with Candace Wiley.


The Cards conclude the tournament today with a 8:50 a.m. tee time. Long drives, close chips and steady putts, ladies!  
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