Martin O’Neill was the bookmakers’ favourite to succeed Giovanni Trapattoni even before his reign came to an end on Wednesday morning, and his odds have been slashed since the Italian’s departure. But the former Sunderland and Aston Villa manager claims he has not been contacted over the vacancy. John Delaney has insisted no decisions have yet been taken over Ireland’s managerial vacancy. He said: “It’s best that we just reflect over the next four or five days. “I’m going to ask my board members to go and speak to the grass roots. It’s going to be a mix of everyone’s views, but in the next week, the FAI Board will decide the process of how we will go about the appointment. “It’s been a traumatic four or five days for Irish football and it’s time to reflect now.” However, that process will not include Norwich boss Chris Hughton, who has reaffirmed his commitment to the Canaries after being touted as a possible successor to Trapattoni. Hughton said: “I was very proud to play for Ireland and I always want to see Ireland winning football matches, but my responsibility is here.” Former Republic full-back Hughton also paid tribute to Trapattoni and the work he did with Ireland. He said: “He’s done a fantastic job there. We have to respect the fact that it is a nation that is not expected to qualify for all the championships that they enter. “I am disappointed to see him go because he is a fellow manager.” Leeds manager Brian McDermott has also committed his future to his club. He said: “It’s really important for me that we become successful at Leeds United and one day if I ever get the opportunity – and it’s been a privilege to see my name bandied around – that would be a job that I’d really want to do. “But at this moment, I wouldn’t be leaving Leeds United for any other club. “In years to come when Leeds get fed up of me – that might be the case – and if I got that opportunity, I’d have to take it.” He told BBC Radio Five Live on Thursday night: “I have had no contact whatsoever from anyone at the Irish FA at this moment and there’s not much more I can say about it.” Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, though, believes O’Neill is an ideal candidate. He said: “There’s no doubt about it, he could do the job standing on his head. No problem. “I’ve always said he’s a fantastic manager and it would be up to him whether he’d want to go into international football or go back to club football. I don’t know but whoever takes him has got a great manager.” However, Football Association of Ireland chief executive Delaney told Sky Sports News: “We are going to get a new manager and that manager’s objectives will be to get us to the European Championship in 2016. “Football, as we all know, tends to surprise us, but I wouldn’t read anything into someone being a favourite or not being a favourite.” It is understood O’Neill’s name is at the very top of the FAI’s list, and that the 61-year-old Ulsterman, who was relieved of his duties at Sunderland in March, is open to an approach. Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy, who guided the Republic to the 2002 World Cup finals in the Far East, is also yet to rule himself out of the running having been mentioned in dispatches by Delaney, who will take a series of soundings before formally offering the post to a favoured candidate. Press Association
A BUDGETED $210M for proposed synthetic track facilities to be laid in Regions 2, 4, 6, 7 and 10 was the highlight that came out of Minister within the Ministry of Education responsible for Culture, Youth and Sport, Nicolette Henry’s budget debate speech when she addressed the National Assembly yesterday morning.The minister’s overall 28-minute speech included deliberations about sports, culture and youth policies.The Minister opened by saying that her presentation “will focus on the achievements in 2016, as well as the measures and plans contained in this budget, intended to positively impact the areas of culture, youth and sport.”As it pertains to sports, Henry made the promise that the government will “work assiduously to prepare our athletes, and 2020 Olympics should see Guyanese athletes more than just participating, but rather they will be given the requisite support and tools to compete”.Following up, the Minister stated that the 2017 budget “makes provision for support to our athletes to benefit from training and development exposure”.The minister did not elaborate or mention the specific programmes or initiatives that will be implemented towards achieving this end or say what direct support will be given to the athletes, or say what was allocated towards achieving this goal.On a mini report on achievements made for this year, the realisation of the National Sports Commission (NSC) electronic national database for athletes was cited.She did, however, hint at realisation of the long-awaited National Sports Policy in 2017, which will “guide” the NSC in its move to “strengthen sport-related services”.She also spoke of the continuation of the training and accreditation of coaches in 2017 through bilateral agreements with Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and Germany, which will provide training in athletics, rugby, football, swimming and any other sporting discipline which needs technical assistance and support.”The provision of up to $10M was mentioned for the continued enhancement and upgrade of identified facilities in the community ground enhancement initiative.Also towards the facilities, Henry says sports facilities can look forward to wifi in 2017, which will aid in the streaming of sports events across the internet.After that the Minister moved on to culture.When the APNU/AFC government took over the reins in 2015 the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport was absorbed as a department under the Ministry of Education so that culture, youth and sport initiatives could better be integrated into the school system.
Senior forward Jasmine Giles and the rest of the Wisconsin women\’s hockey team is excited for another shot at Border Battle rival Minnesota.[/media-credit]No matter what sport it may be, a border battle between Wisconsin and Minnesota will always be considered a marquee matchup.In women’s hockey though, the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry has consistently featured some of the highest quality of play in the sport year in and year out. At least one of the teams has been featured in the NCAA championship game in each of the last six years.Interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser, who has been a part of the Wisconsin program since its inception in 1999, relishes in the rivalry’s intense, yet highly respectful atmosphere, which will reignite this weekend in the regular season finale.“It’s been a long-lived border battle since my start here in ’99,” DeKeyser said. “It’s always fun, it’s a friendly rivalry and our coaching staffs are very respectful. We enjoy playing each other — it’s usually a clean, fast-paced hockey game.”At 11 years, it may not be as old as other classic sporting rivalries, but since the two teams have often ended the other’s season, it has made up for age with high stakes.After the program’s beginning in 1999, the Badgers spent six years hurriedly catching up to the established Gophers program. For that time period, Wisconsin struggled to overthrow a Minnesota team that won national championships in both 2004 and 2005.After Minnesota’s second championship, however, a role reversal occurred and Wisconsin quickly became a thorn in Minnesota’s side. The 2005-06 season marked the arrival of Wisconsin as a women’s hockey powerhouse.In November of that season, the Badgers claimed their first series sweep against their neighbors and the momentum snowballed from there.The two teams met again in the WCHA championship in February, which Wisconsin won 4-1; later in March it was much the same story when the Badgers won their first national championship, casting down the Gophers in a 3-0 victory.“I think the favorite memory for most Badgers would be the first NCAA win in the Minnesota backyard,” DeKeyser said. “We won at Mariucci Arena for our first national title and it was just sweet justice. There were so many losses in the past.“And I say that in a friendly way, because they’re a great program and I respect what they’re doing up there.”Over the next three years, the Badgers would eliminate the Gophers from the WCHA playoffs three times, plus once more in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.The latter is a game remembered vividly by junior forward Kelly Nash, who tallied a goal in the 3-2 overtime victory.“We went into overtime and it was intense,” she said. “We were all nervous in the locker room, we didn’t know that it was going to go that far but we scored right away. I’d say that was my favorite (memory playing Minnesota) because it meant a lot to our team to beat them, especially at that time.”Another chapter will be added to that history this weekend, and once again, the stakes are high.Wisconsin needs success to lock up a top-four finish in the WCHA and better their chances at an NCAA tournament birth, while Minnesota intends to seal up their first place position in the conference.The stage is set once again.To have such an important game come down to a road trip to the house of a big rival might seem like a nightmare for most teams, but not for the Badgers. Minnesota’s Ridder Arena is exactly where Wisconsin has won many postseason games against the Gophers, which has only amplified the rivalry even more.“I love playing there, it’s almost like playing at home,” senior captain Jasmine Giles said. “It always has a great attendance, and even though the crowd is cheering against us, it pumps us up that much more to play well.”There is little doubt the upcoming regular season finale will affect the postseason of both teams. Regardless of the outcome, it’s hard to imagine it will be the last time the two teams will see each other this season.“It always comes down to ‘see you in the playoffs, see you in the quarterfinals, NCAA Frozen Four,’” DeKeyser said. “Usually in the months of February and March we see the Gophers a lot.”
The Wisconsin volleyball team (21-5, 17-1 Big Ten) concluded their regular season home matches with sweeps of the Iowa Hawkeyes and No. 6 Nebraska Cornhuskers. After the wins, University of Wisconsin jumped to No. 2 in the NCAA RPI Poll, but remained at No. 5 in the AVCA Coaches’ Poll. Wisconsin honored their seniors Friday night with an emphatic 25-18, 25-13, 25-15 sweep of the Hawkeyes (9-20, 3-15 Big Ten). The five seniors, Tiffany Clark, Madison Duello, M.E. Dodge, Mallory Dixon and Sarah Dodd, were recognized prior to the game.Volleyball: Badgers retake Big Ten lead with victories over Minnesota, Michigan StateThe No. 5 University of Wisconsin volleyball team (19-5, 15-1 Big Ten) took care of both No. 7 Minnesota and Read…“We were talking with the rest of the team and saying the greatest gift you can give us for senior night is to be ready to play,” Clark said. “It’s really easy to get caught up in all the distractions that tonight offers — all the family, all the pomp and circumstance — but I think we did a really good job at focusing and zeroing in.” Middle blockers Dana Rettke and Danielle Hart delivered on that gift with 15 and 11 kills, respectively. The pair also combined for a .632 hitting percentage. Rettke also added eight blocks, three aces and a dig. UW hit a combined .410 — their second-highest mark of the year — against Iowa’s porous defense. Even M.E. Dodge, a 5 foot 10 defensive specialist, got in on the fun with a kill – the fourth of her career and her first this season. Wisconsin has now won 17 of their last 18 matches against the Hawkeyes. Volleyball: 3 surprising boosts to No. 7 BadgersA season ago, the Wisconsin volleyball team reached the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament before their neighbor to the Read…Sunday, the Badgers’ sixth-ranked offense led the sweep over the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ (23-4, 15-3 Big Ten) seventh-ranked defense for the second time this season. This was the first time in program history Nebraska had been swept by a conference opponent twice in one season. Outside hitter Molly Haggerty led the Badgers with 16 kills despite missing the team’s morning practice with an illness. Rettke finished with 12 kills on zero errors and led the match with five blocks. Wisconsin’s offense confounded the Cornhuskers in early October, and it appeared Nebraska Head Coach John Cook and company still hadn’t figured it out. Volleyball: Badgers look to extend historic Big Ten runThe No. 4 Wisconsin volleyball team (16-4, 12-0 Big Ten) remains on the road to face The Ohio State University Read…The balanced Badger offense hit .331 against the top defense in the Big Ten. The Badgers hit .376 against the Cornhuskers earlier this year. These are the two highest percentages Nebraska has allowed this year. The Badgers are now 7-0 against ranked Big Ten opponents and have dropped only four sets in those seven matches.
PROSPECT PARK SHARP FOR RICH SANTA ANITA DERBYMIKE SMITH KEEN ON BOLO IN SANTA ANITA DERBYSANTA ANITA DERBY COULD LURE ONE LUCKY DANEHOLLENDORFER HAS THE ‘EDGE’ IN TOKYO CITY CUPELLIS EYES IMPROVEMENT AT MILE FOR MAJESTIC CITY Philip D’Amato6614111021%$659,090 Corey Nakatani11419111617%$933,348 Thomas Proctor4776315%$529,528 Rafael Bejarano24561343125%$2,818,492 SANTA ANITA RIDERS IN DERBY DAY 5K WALK & RUNSeveral Santa Anita-based jockeys will participate in Santa Anita’s annual Derby Day 5K Walk and Run on Saturday, April 4. A traditional prelude to the 78th running of the Santa Anita Derby later in the day, the Derby Day 5K will start at 8 a.m.“We’re going to have more jockeys participating than ever before,” said veteran rider Aaron Gryder, who was born in nearby West Covina and has more than 3,600 wins in a career dating back to 1987.“We’re all out here to have fun, but I think the number of jocks participating is a pretty good indicator that we all are living healthier and are much more committed to fitness than maybe we were 20 or 30 years ago.”The jockeys, with their probable odds of winning provided by Santa Anita morning line maker Jon White follows:Saul Arias, 15-1; Cheryl Charlton, 15-1; Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Omar Figueroa, 6-1; Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1; Aaron Gryder, 10-1; Modesto Linares, 12-1; Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Bryan Pena, 15-1; Tiago Pereira, 12-1; Iggy Puglisi, 15-1; Alex Solis, 10-1; Joe Steiner, 12-1; Kayla Star, 15-1; Elvis Trujillo, 8-1; and Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1. All runners will begin their 5K journey in Santa Anita’s parking lot area that adjoins the Westfield Santa Anita Mall. After running north on Baldwin Ave., the course angles west into the Los Angeles County Arboretum for a scenic loop. The runners will then head east across Baldwin Ave. for a short tour of Santa Anita’s stable area en route to the track’s Infield tunnel which takes them to a quarter-mile finish on Santa Anita’s inner training track.Adults and children of all ages are encouraged to participate and may register online at www.kinaneevents.com. Derby Day 5K walk-up registration will be available from today, March 20, through April 2 at Run With Us, located at 235 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena.Those wishing to register the day before the event can do so on April 3 at the Promenade at Westfield Santa Anita from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Race day registration will be available in the Santa Anita parking lot, next to the 5K starting line, beginning at 6:30 a.m.For more information on the Santa Anita Derby Day 5k Run and Walk, please visit santaanita.com/events or call (626) 574-RACE. Victor Espinoza16731322419%$2,024,226 Mike Puype96813138%$419,126 Jack Carava47610613%$191,970 Elvis Trujillo19823242012%$1,331,510 JockeyMts1st2nd3rdWin%Money Won SANTA ANITA STATISTICS Mark Casse57106818%$797,378 Richard Mandella531091019%$649,566 Joseph Talamo22623253810%$1,636,488 Jerry Hollendorfer15028202319%$3,171,428 Martin Garcia12123161519%$1,716,960 Mike Smith9820191520%$2,247,451 Felipe Valdez7411111115%$348,558 Jeff Bonde3190329%$324,240 DECISIVE EDGE IN GOOD SPOT FOR FIRST STAKES WINJerry Hollendorfer entered Distinctive Edge and Rousing Sermon in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup at 1 ½ miles on dirt, but is likely to run only Distinctive Edge, with Rousing Sermon going in Sunday’s $75,000 Santana Mile.It would mark the first stakes start for Distinctive Edge, a 4-year-old Bernardini colt who has made eight of his 12 career races on turf.“We’ll enter Rousing Sermon in the Santana and make a decision,” said Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward, “because he’s very good at a mile, and since he’s a Cal-bred and there’s a Cal-bred bonus (of $22,500), it’s almost the same purse (as the Tokyo City Cup).“But aside from that, we’ve really been wanting to run Decisive Edge long. His best was a mile and a quarter (second by a half-length on Feb. 6), and his dirt race (second to the front-running Alfa Bird at 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 2) also was an excellent race. He might be a real specialist at that distance.”The field for the Tokyo City Cup, race eight of nine: Helm, Drayden Van Dyke, 10-1; Decisive Edge, Alex Solis, 8-1; Rousing Sermon, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Bronzo, Gary Stevens, 9-5; Arlington House, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Image of Joplin, Agapito Delgadillo, 12-1; Bailoutbobby, Elvis Trujillo, 8-1; and Sky Kingdom, Martin Garcia, 5-2. John Sadler12017181714%$1,049,034 TrainerSts1st2nd3rdWin%Money Won Fernando Perez1701521169%$724,990 Drayden Van Dyke18021212312%$1,348,060 Flavien Prat1221114149%$652,986 Michael Pender4366514%$178,020 Bob Baffert9321161323%$1,798,352 (Current Through Sunday, March 22) James Cassidy64981114%$371,480 Tyler Baze26834343113%$2,133,564 Mario Gutierrez9681498%$441,210 Richard Baltas681411521%$616,422 Kent Desormeaux17631322018%$1,799,870 PROSPECT PARK TO BREEZE SATURDAY FOR DERBYProspect Park arrived Tuesday from his San Luis Rey Downs headquarters for theGrade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 4. Trainer Cliff Sise Jr. couldn’t be happier with the status of the son of Tapit owned and bred by Pam and Marty Wygod.“He galloped here yesterday,” Sise said. “He’ll work five furlongs on Saturday. It’s a very good crop (of 3-year-olds) this year, and thank God, they’re not dropping like flies like they did last year.“Right now, I’m as happy as I could be. He’s doing great.”In other Santa Anita Derby news:Bob Baffert said Thursday morning he is considering the Santa Anita Derby for One Lucky Dane, 9 ¾-length winner of his 3-year-old debut last Thursday. The bay son of Lookin At Lucky finished sixth by 9 ½ lengths in his previous start behind Texas Red in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last Nov. 1.“I might run him,” Baffert said. “He likes this track. He’s two-for-two on it (One Lucky Dane broke his maiden by 9 ½ lengths at Santa Anita last Oct. 4). Either that, or I could wait for the Lexington. Now’s the time to find out if you fit.”The Grade III Coolmore Lexington offers $250,000 in purse money and will be decided at 1 1/16 miles April 11 at Keeneland.Santa Anita offers a $750,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 pool and a $300,000 guaranteed Pick 6 pool on Santa Anita Derby Day. Peter Miller13526271519%$1,323,756 SORESCA TRIES NEW TACTIC IN MARCH MADNESSSoresca was nominated to Saturday’s March Madness Starter Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf and the Grade III Tokyo City Cup at 1 ½ miles on dirt for older horses, but trainer Jim Cassidy is opting for the lesser of the two evils, on paper at least.An Irish-bred daughter of Elusive City, Soresca won her last start at 13-1 going a mile on turf at the $25,000 claiming level, coming from well off the pace under Santiago Gonzalez.“She had shown speed in her earlier races in this country,” Cassidy said, “but it didn’t work out. We’ve taken her back and that suits her better.”The March Madness: Soresca, Santiago Gonzalez, 6-1; Jade With Envy, Felipe Valdez, 5-1; Toppers Sunshine, Fernando Perez, 6-1; Handfull, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Love Blind, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1; Teasing Moment, Brayan Pena, 30-1; Loan Savant, Mario Gutierrez, 8-1; Grandiose Tactics, Tyler Baze, 5-2; Marina Del Heat, Flavien Prat, 30-1; Bitter Tears, Modesto Linares, 30-1; and Summers Dignity, Tiago Pereira, 20-1.SANTANA MILE IDEAL SPOT FOR MAJESTIC CITYRon Ellis has found a softer spot for Majestic City. After performing admirably but not winning in four straight graded stakes, the 6-year-old City Zip horse has been entered by the trainer in Sunday’s $75,000 Santana Mile in quest of his first victory since capturing the restricted Big Bear Stakes at Santa Anita in October of 2013, a span of seven races.The Santana Mile will mark Majestic City’s second start since finishing fifth in the Grade II San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs on March 7. It was his first race in more than 10 months.“I would hope he moves forward off his last start,” Ellis said. “I think he’s better going a mile than seven-eighths anyway.”Majestic City has a 4-4-4 record from 23 starts, with earnings of $453,960. The field: Secretsatmidnight, Martin Garcia; Majestic City, Tyler Baze; Blue Tone, Kent Desormeaux; Appealing Tale, Fernando Perez; Storm Fighter, Alex Solis; Galicado, Mike Smith; You Know I Know, Santiago Gonzalez; Ankeny Hill, Joe Talamo; Rousing Sermon, Rafael Bejarano; and Edge of Reality, Drayden Van Dyke. Ron Ellis56114920%$433,440 Peter Eurton8113131416%$808,606 Mark Glatt6611111117%$493,792 SMITH SEEKS SECOND SANTA ANITA DERBY WIN WITH PROMISING BOLOA winner of a record 21 Breeders’ Cup races and considered by many to be the best big-money rider in American Racing, jockey Mike Smith figures to be a longshot to win his second career Santa Anita Derby with up and coming Bolo, who will try to turn the tables on top-rated Derby contender Dortmund in the 78th running of the West Coast’s most important Kentucky Derby prep on Saturday, April 4.Dating back to Gallahadion in 1940, the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby has produced a total of 17 winners of the Run for the Roses, including two out of the last three–I’ll Have Another in 2012 and California Chrome last year.Trained by Carla Gaines and owned by Golden Pegasus Racing, Inc. and Earle Mack, Bolo, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Temple City, had won two out of his first three starts with Smith on grass, including the one mile Eddie Logan Stakes on Dec. 27, prior to running a big third, beaten only 1 ¾ lengths, by Dortmund in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 7, which was Bolo’s first-ever start on natural dirt.Although Smith, who’s lone Kentucky Derby win came with longshot Giacomo in 2005, took off of Bolo to ride Ocho Ocho Ocho to an eighth place finish in the San Felipe, he’s more than happy to be back aboard for his next engagement on April 4.Q. You saw Bolo run a big third behind Dortmund in the Grade II San Felipe on March 7. Can he improve enough in the Santa Anita Derby to turn the tables on Dortmund?A. “We’re sure hoping so. He had a slight tendency to get tired the other day. He made a beautiful run, looked like he was going to be a big part of it, but he just got tired. He missed close to three weeks of training in between the Eddie Logan and the San Felipe, so he definitely had a license to need that race and it should move him forward, but you just hope it moves him forward enough.”Q. He’s shown good natural speed on dirt and turf. How important is that to you?A. “It’s good to have a horse that has tactical speed like that, who can put you in the race early and put you in a good spot. It always helps. The first time he ran, he got away real bad. He used to be a little anxious in the gate but he’s gotten a lot better about it and he’s been breaking really well.”Q. He’s by the Dynaformer stallion Temple City and he’s out of a Chief Seattle mare. Does he have the pedigree to be a top-tier Derby candidate?A. “I really think he does. I don’t think distance will be a problem for him whatsoever. Like I said, he got a little tired the other day from missing training but every time I’ve ever ridden him, he’s galloped out like a monster. I don’t think the distance will be a problem, I think it will be a plus.”Q. If Bolo runs a big second or third in the Santa Anita Derby, would you commit to him for the Kentucky Derby, or would you wait?A. “I ride the Arkansas Derby (April 11) after that as well, so I’ll have to see how Far Right (by Notional and trained by Ron Moquett) runs and how Bolo runs in the Santa Anita Derby and go from there. As you know, things can change a lot in these prep races so you don’t want to commit right now. If you commit now and they decide not to go (to the Derby), you may have cut yourself off another horse, so you just want them all to keep taking steps forward and it should be no problem.”Q. If you can take a step back, and assess things as a horseplayer, who’s the best 3-year-old you’ve seen this year?A. “I think Dortmund is the best 3-year-old because he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s the only one that’s been marching straight through. He hasn’t missed training. He hasn’t missed anything. I think he’ll want every bit of a mile and a quarter and he’s already proven he likes Churchill Downs with the way he won there (7 ¾ length one mile allowance win on Nov. 29). American Pharoah ran really well at Oaklawn the other day. I’m not sure how much was in that race and it was his first race back, but he surely can’t be as tight as Dortmund is right now, so I’d have to give the edge to Dortmund.”A native of Roswell, New Mexico, Smith, who will turn 50 on Aug. 10, won the 2007 Santa Anita Derby with Tiago and he was also the regular rider of legendary 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta. A. C. Avila2572328%$208,298 FINISH LINES: Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern, under regular rider Martin Garcia, worked six furlongs in company Thursday morning for Bob Baffert in 1:13.40. Stablemate Oh Billy Billy was timed in 1:14.40. “Nice and easy” is how Baffert described Bayern’s move, but the trainer offered no word on what race he might have in mind for the colt’s 4-year-old debut . . . Two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder worked six furlongs under exercise rider David Neusch in 1:12.40. “She’s training great,” said Richard Mandella, adding, “We’re still working on where to start.” . . . Leading jockey Rafael Bejarano, who won three races Sunday to increase his lead to 61-34 over runner-up Tyler Baze, has been cleared to ride based on an appeal of a three-day suspension (March 28, 29 and April 2) for causing interference on Jazzy Josh in Saturday’s fourth race . . . Firing Line punched his ticket to the May 2 Kentucky Derby with his facile score in Sunday’s Sunland Derby. “He’s back here at Santa Anita and will train up to the Derby,” Simon Callaghan said of the son of Line of David owned by Arnold Zetcher. “I was kind of hoping for that (kind of margin of victory). I think he needed to go and do that to really put himself into the Kentucky Derby picture.” . . . Crimson Giant, 12-1 morning line chance in today’s sixth race, will be making his eighth start this meet, which began last Dec. 26. That’s eight races in 90 days, an average of nearly one start every 11 days for the 6-year-old gelded son of Formal Gold, who will be seeking his second win today in this, his 68th career start . . .Tom Quigley‘s guest handicappers in the East Paddock Gardens at 11:20 a.m. will be Peter Dills, horse player and Southern California food critic, Saturday, and Jonathan Hardoon of the Ragozin Sheets, Sunday . . . Sign of the apocalypse: Leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who has started 150 horses this meet, one fewer than leader Doug O’Neill, does not–repeat, does not–have a horse entered at Santa Anita on Thursday or Friday. “We entered,” Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward said, “but the races didn’t fill.” Team Hollendorfer will make up for the rare shortfall when it plans to enter 14 horses on Santa Anita Derby weekend, April 4 and 5, and possibly one at Keeneland, one at Oaklawn Park and one in New York . . . Popular longtime Southern California-based trainer Norman MacDonald passed away in Vancouver, B.C. this past Jan.16 at age 89. A former professional hockey player, he was perhaps best known as the conditioner of long-fused turf gelding Flying Gene. MacDonald was surrounded at his passing by his sons, former trainers Brad and Mark MacDonald . . .On Saturday, the Grade III Tokyo City Cup will be the feature race on Japan Family Day, with the Ramen Yokocho Festival in the infield. For more details, visit www.tokyocitycup.com. Edwin Maldonado11715111413%$528,154 Doug O’Neill15117142211%$883,498 Tiago Pereira1121391412%$434,302 Gary Stevens9316141717%$1,483,818 Steven Miyadi3775319%$227,570 Martin Pedroza14916211811%$666,204 Santiago Gonzalez10914121713%$640,944 Eddie Truman1761235%$255,180 Hector Palma2864221%$146,210 Steve Knapp3362318%$260,510 Brice Blanc5172414%$297,250