Tiz the Law wins Belmont
NEW YORK (AP) — Tiz the Law has won an unprecedented Belmont Stakes, claiming victory Saturday at the first race of a rejiggered Triple Crown schedule and crossing the finish line in front of eerily empty grandstands.
The 3-year-old colt from upstate New York charged to the lead turning to the front stretch and now can set his sights on the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby and Oct. 3 Preakness. All three legs of this year’s Triple Crown schedule were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Belmont, usually the series capper, was initially scheduled for June 6.
Tiz the Law gave New York a hometown champion in its first major sporting event since the coronavirus pandemic seized the area. He’s the first New York-bred horse to win the Belmont since Forrester in 1882.
This Belmont States was unlike any of the 151 that preceded it. The Long Island track can pack in nearly 100,000, but this race only had about 100 on hand, including jockeys, media and park staff.
Masks were mandated for all but the horses — even the jockeys wore face coverings.
4-way tie leading into Sunday, Watney positive for virus
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Buckle up for another wild finish on the PGA Tour. Webb Simpson made one birdie on the back nine at Harbour Town. That was just enough for a 68 that allowed him to join a four-way tie for the lead in the RBC Heritage. He was at 15-under 198. Also sharing the lead were Tyrrell Hatton of England, Abraham Ancer of Mexico and Ryan Palmer. Hatton had one of the six rounds of 63 on Saturday. The change to June because of three-month shutdown appears to be making all the difference. This is a soft course for a strong field.
Meanwhile, packed restaurants and a lack of social distancing on Hilton Head Island are leading to concerns that the PGA Tour might have more players test positive for the coronavirus. Nick Watney became the first player to test positive on Friday and withdrew from the RBC Heritage.
The tournament is the second since the tour resumed play after a three-month break because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tour has tested 11 people who came into close contact with Watney and all initial tests came back negative.
Justin Thomas is one of several players to note how busy the island has been. He says, “It's an absolute zoo around here.”
In other PGA news:
— Chris Kirk won the Korn Ferry Tour’s King & Bear Classic on Saturday at World Golf Village, a year after taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour to fight alcohol abuse and depression. Kirk birdied the par-5 18th hole for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke victory over Justin Lower in the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit’s second straight one-time event to make up for events lost to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Kirk says it gives him a deeper sense of appreciation and gratitude for everything, adding that he’s a completely different person than he was two years ago”.
Haley wins at Talladega for first Xfinity Series victory
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Justin Haley took the lead on the final lap — with help from Kaulig Racing teammate Ross Chastain — and held on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway for his first Xfinity Series victory. Haley passed Jeb Burton, who held the lead on a restart with three laps to go, on the outside with a push from Chastain and finished 0.299 seconds ahead.
Haley also won the rain-shortened Cup race at Daytona last July and is a three-time Truck Series winner, giving him victories in each of NASCAR’s three top national series. He celebrated with Chastain, who won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash. Burton finished third. There were no fans allowed in the grandstands because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Haley dedicated the win to late crew chief Nick Harrison, who died last July the morning after the Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Yankees, Mets to train in New York if MLB resumes
UNDATED (AP) — The Yankees and Mets would train in New York if Major League Baseball and its players try to start the coronavirus-delayed season. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement Saturday, and the teams confirmed the decisions.
The Yankees originally had intended to base at their spring training complex in Tampa, Florida. The Mets had said they were undecided between Citi Field and their training camp in Port St. Lucie, Florida. But positive cases for COVID-19 in Florida have increased markedly in recent days, while the percentage of positive tests in New York City has dropped sharply.
All 30 MLB teams have closed their spring camps in Florida and Arizona this weekend over virus concerns.
MLB had hoped to start the season during the first week of July, but teams and the players' association are engaged in a bitter fight over how to apportion revenue losses caused by the pandemic. Both sides agree that players need three weeks of training before the increasingly slight season could start.
In other developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
— LSU has begun asking a number of football players to self-quarantine in the past week because of instances in which some players tested positive for COVID-19 after social interactions outside of the Tigers’ training facility. The school says such quarantines were expected and planned for and that no players have exhibited “significant” symptoms. The school hasn’t said how many players have tested positive for COVID-19 or how many have been quarantined. Players began reporting for workouts at LSU's Baton Rouge, Louisiana, campus during the first week in June.
— Three members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the team’s training facility, and the team has closed affected areas of the building. Management says the affected areas will remain closed until extensive sanitizing is completed. All individuals who may have been exposed have been notified and are following the established protocols, the Bucs said in a statement. That includes a 14-day quarantine period. The team did not identify the people who tested positive. The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning closed their facility earlier this week after three players and two staff members tested positive.
— The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t commenting on reports that star player Auston Matthews has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Leafs say a player’s medical information is private. The Toronto Sun and The Toronto Star report that the center tested positive. According to the Sun, the 22-year-old Matthews has self-quarantined in his Arizona home and hopes to be ready to play if the NHL season resumes. The NHL hopes to open training camps next month and finish off the 2019-20 season later this summer.
— Canada’s approval of the NHL’s return-to-play proposal has led the league to consider designating one or more cities north of the border to serve as hubs for its 24-team playoff format. Officials say Canada’s top public health officer as well as the top health officers of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Toronto worked closely with the NHL to approve the plan. It required an exemption because the U.S.-Canada border is currently closed to all non-essential travel until at least July 21 and those who enter Canada must self-isolate for 14 days.
— The NBA has firmed up the schedule for what will be a hectic time for teams this fall. The league has set Oct. 16 as the date for this year’s draft and says clubs can begin talking to free agents two days later. The annual moratorium will begin at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time on Oct. 19 and continue through noon on Oct. 23. The league told teams of the plans Saturday in a memo obtained by The Associated Press.
— Kansas State has paused all voluntary workouts for football student-athletes for two weeks following the most recent COVID-19 test results. As of Friday, 14 student-athletes had tested positive for active COVID-19 following testing of more than 130 student-athletes. The school says those who tested positive are being medically managed according to current health guidelines. That includes self-isolation for 10 days and until a patient is without fever for 72 hours without medication, whichever takes longer. Athletics director Gene Taylor says the university feels that temporarily pausing all football workouts and access to facilities is the best decision for everyone.
— As universities begin the process of playing sports through a pandemic, some are requiring student athletes to sign waivers acknowledging the risks for COVID-19. Ohio State and Missouri have pledges they are requiring athletes or their parents to sign before the players can take part in voluntary workouts. How much legal protection any of these forms provide schools is up for debate, along with the ethics of requiring unpaid students to sign them. Athletes have already tested positive at more than a dozen schools from Boise State to Clemson, though some schools are not releasing details.
— NASCAR heads to Talladega Superspeedway Sunday with new rules and more fans. The Alabama track will admit up to 5,000 fans, just 48 hours after Stewart-Haas Racing confirmed two of its employees tested positive for the new coronavirus. The new rules are in response to Ryan Newman's crash in the Daytona 500, but there is no practice or qualifying scheduled, so drivers won't have a feel for the adjustments until the race begins. NASCAR also will be on the lookout for the newly banned Confederate flag.
— The NASCAR Cup race at Texas will have thousands of spectators in the stands. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has approved a comprehensive action plan submitted by the track to allow fans for the July 19 race. While the state allows 50% capacity for outdoor sporting events, track president Eddie Gossage says it's too early to know how many fans will be able to attend. With social distancing protocols in place, the speedway first must reassign seating for people who had already purchased tickets for the race that was originally scheduled for March 29. The track capacity is about 135,000.
— The Chinese basketball league has restarted after an almost five-month shutdown for the coronavirus pandemic but is going ahead in empty stadiums and with fewer foreign players. The CBA was suspended on Jan. 24 after the virus outbreak in Wuhan. The semifinals stage has started with 20 teams divided into two divisions and limited venues to reduce travel. All stadiums are closed to fans. League chairman and former NBA star Yao Ming praised the work of the clubs and health authorities for helping get the season restarted. He says as the first national large-scale sports event to be restarted in China the CBA is of “strategic significance."
— French soccer authorities will allow fans back into stadiums starting July 10, with an initial limit of 5,000. The president of the French Football Federation says it is possible more spectators will be allowed into the French Cup final at the end of July and for the resumption of top-tier Ligue 1 play at the end of August. The French government called off the country's 2019-20 soccer season on April 28 as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
BASEBALL-SOUTH KOREA-RUSSELL SIGNS
Former All-Star shortstop Addison Russell joins KBO
SEOUL, Korea (AP) — Former Chicago Cubs All-Star shortstop Addison Russell will look to rebuild his career abroad after he signed a one-year, $530,000 contract with the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization. Russell was cut from the Cubs roster in December after the Major League club declined to offer a new contract, making the 2016 All-Star a free agent one year after he was suspended for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. Russell was banned for 40 games at the start of the 2019 season after a series of allegations made by ex-wife Melisa Reidy.
Redskins retire Mitchell's jersey, rename stadium level
UNDATED (AP) — The Washington Redskins will retire the jersey of Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. They will also rename the lower level of FedEx Field for him, replacing the section named for former owner George Preston Marshall.
The team, which is under pressure to change its name during the ongoing national reckoning over racism, said Saturday that Mitchell's No. 49 will become only the second jersey in the franchise's 88-year history to be retired. The other is the No. 33 of Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh.
Mitchell, Washington's first African American player, died in April. The Redskins were the last NFL team to integrate the roster.
Significantly, dropping Marshall's name from the lower bowl of the stadium follows by one day the removal of his statue at RFK Stadium, the team's former home. Marshall moved the team from Boston to Washington and resisted integrating the roster with Black players until “forced to do so” in 1962.
The team's announcement of the change did not mention Marshall, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963 and died in 1969.
Jim Kiick, Dolphins' perfect season running back, dies at 73
MIAMI (AP) — Jim Kiick, the versatile running back who helped the Miami Dolphins achieve the NFL’s only perfect season in 1972, died Saturday at age 73 following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, daughter Allie said. The former University of Wyoming star was part of a formidable backfield that included his best friend, Pro Football Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka.
They earned the nicknames Butch and Sundance, inspired by the popular 1969 movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Kiick (“Butch”) made the American Football League All-Star team in his first two seasons and played on Miami’s back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams in 1972-73.
Kiick had two touchdowns for the ’72 Dolphins in the AFC championship game, and scored in the Super Bowl victory that capped their 17-0 season.