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Sun., May 18, 2014, 7:23 a.m.

A winner anyway you look at it

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Will we see a Triple Crown winner again? It's been since 1978 horse racing has produced a champion of champions. That's more than 25 years by my math. But we may have one again in three weeks. Wouldn't that be something? Read on.

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• My math is pretty flawed I admit (it's been 36 years since Affirmed held off Alydar three times to win the Triple Crown) but no matter how you add it up, it's been a long time since horse racing has been relevant. Many folks point to the lack of a Triple Crown winner as the cause, though even those people must admit there is more to it than that. Yet, they hold out hope a new champion, a horse that everyone can latch onto, will bring the sport back to prominence. Sorry, but that's not going to happen. Horse racing's time as one of the Big Three sports in America has passed. But that doesn't mean a Triple Crown champion won't capture the country's attention for a while. Especially a horse like California Chrome (pictured). Watching the Preakness yesterday – Chrome won going away, making it the 13th horse to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown since Affirmed – I was struck once again what a star this horse is. A big, beautiful copper-colored horse with speed, resilience and a competitive edge. What's not to like? And did I mention this horse doesn't seem to like to lose? It's a trait it shares with Affirmed, the last great 3-year-old. Three times Alydar tried to run down Affirmed in 1978's Triple Crown and three times the California-raced horse held off his Eastern rival. Each race got closer, from 1½ lengths in the Kentucky Derby to a neck in the Preakness. In the grueling test that is the Belmont, Affirmed just wouldn't let Alydar get by, winning by a nose. Since then 12 horses have entered the Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown and 12 have failed. Will California Chrome be the 13th? I don't think so. Even though there will be a pack of fresh horses waiting – just a handful of horses even try all three races anymore, with most of the 20 Kentucky Derby horses skipping yesterday's race and a few of them pointing at the Belmont – California Chrome seems like the type of horse that can succeed where so many have failed before.

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• WSU: Speaking of racing, the Pac-12 track and field championships are going on in Pullman. There is no betting allowed, though if there were, no one would bet the favorites in the distance races. John Blanchette's column today highlights the long strange road distance runners have to take, using North Central's Andrew Kimpel as the centerpiece. ... Jacob Thorpe has the coverage of the meet Saturday and Tyler Tjomsland adds photographs. ... Oregon is dominating the meet and the coverage from outside the area. ... The Seattle Times' Larry Stone has a column today on Mike Leach and his book about Geronimo.

• Idaho: The Idaho men and women both bid adieu to the WAC with championships in track.

• Preps: Yes, there is track in the prep ranks as well, with the Idaho state meets going on. We have a roundup. ... Tom Clouse covered the 4A baseball yesterday, where Lewis and Clark and Gonzaga Prep both moved on to the state tournament. We also have a roundup of other action. ... Chris Derrick covered Washington softball yesterday and we have a story on Coeur d'Alene's second-place finish in the Idaho 5A tournament. ... Ferris' shootout win over Pasco put the Saxons in the state soccer tournament again.

• Shock: Winning at Arizona is not easy even with a full squad. The Shock will try to get their first win there in years today and they'll do it with an inexperienced quarterback. Jim Meehan has the advance. ... The other two teams in the Shock's division played yesterday, with San Jose getting past Portland.

• Seahawks: The Hawks' rookie mini-camp continued Saturday, with more drills and evaluation. It's a good time to introduce players to the area, so we can pass along stories on receiver Kevin Norwood from Alabama and defensive lineman Cassius Marsh from UCLA. ... It's also a good time to let the new players talk a bit. ... Dave Boling feels Keith Price is at home in the Seahawks' camp.

• Mariners: Another game, another loss. Saturday's 4-3 defeat in Minnesota is the M's fourth consecutive loss, part of what's becoming a real roller-coaster season. ... Maybe there is help on the way, though, as the M's are bidding for another Cuban outfielder. But before that happens, they should have a couple of starting pitchers back in the rotation. That can't hurt.

• Sounders: The fact Seattle won in front of nearly 50,000 fans in CenturyLink is nothing new. What is new is the Sounders threw a shutout at San Jose, winning 1-0. And the goal? It was a thing of beauty by Obafemi Martins (at right in picture), a little poke over the goaltender that found the back of the net. It was so surprising the San Jose coach doesn't think it was intended that way. Whatever. It counts. And the Sounders have another win, this one without their American stars.

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• It is Sunday, right? Seems like a good day to get to the movie. Maybe see one of these blockbuster summer films. Why not? Until later ... 




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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