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Grip on Sports: If you like racing, this is a good weekend near and far

John Velazquez rides Always Dreaming to victory in the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 6, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (Matt Slocum / Associated Press)
John Velazquez rides Always Dreaming to victory in the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 6, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Yesterday, 19 out of 20 horses who started at the Kentucky Derby finished. Only one, Always Dreaming, was declared the champion, however. Today, more than 40,000 folks will finish the Bloomsday race here in Spokane. And all should be considered champions. Read on.

••••••••••

• There were more than 150,000 people watching the Kentucky Derby live yesterday. Celebrities from around the world, like Tom Brady. People in big old hats, like Tom Brady. And folks there just to have a good time, like Tom Brady.

They saw a muddy mess of a race.

It was so bad, one horse, Thunder Snow, just said the heck with this, I’m not running. It looked like a participant in the Cheney Rodeo, trying to buck his rider and give him a taste of the mud. (The horse was fine afterward, if you wondered.)

But Always Dreaming, and jockey John Velasquez, avoided most of the mud by getting out in front and staying there. All the way through the finish line.

A couple of longshots chased him home, but Always Dreaming was the class of this Kentucky Derby.

Which earns the horse a day of revelry, a few extra oats and then it’s back to the track. The Triple Crown beckons. Next up is Maryland’s Preakness. Win that one and the Belmont is the do-or-don’t test.

But for one wet day in Louisville, Always Dreaming wasn’t. It was really the winner.

• Speaking of always dreaming, I’m sure there are some folks out there who do that with Bloomsday. They envision themselves cresting Doomsday Hill this morning in front of the pack, even if they are starting in the red section.

And why not? If you can’t have some fun at Bloomsday, why push yourself through more than 7 miles of Spokane’s streets?

At least the Bloomsday route is pretty much pothole free. You can’t say that about much of Spokane. (Where I get on Interstate 90 going west, it is like driving through Mogadishu in 1993. At least it seems that way from watching “Black Hawk Down” a few times.)

The run (or walk, whatever the case may be) can also be stress free, if you want it that way. The best Bloomsdays are the ones in which the temperature reaches 70 by the mid-morning, not so hot as to sap strength but warm enough to get the old muscles moving. And it’s dry.

Sadly, today isn’t one of those days.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t special. It is. Always. And, as John Blanchette writes this morning, it always will be.

•••

WSU: We linked this story a week or so ago, when it appeared on the web. But Jacob Thorpe’s piece on lineman Fred Mauigoa was in the print edition today, so we will link it again. … The Cougar baseball team split a doubleheader with Oregon yesterday in Pullman. Another win today and Washington State can deal a blow to the Ducks’ postseason hopes. … Around the Pac-12, Oregon’s special teams want to play a big part in its success next fall.

Empire: Winning at Sioux Falls is almost impossible. Or at least it has been for the past decade. The Empire couldn’t get it done last night, losing 62-32 to the Storm.

Preps: May is spring sports playoff month. That means it’s a busy one. Gonzaga Prep picked up a big 4A baseball win yesterday at home, and we have a story and a photo report. …Colfax’s Scout Cai had a great GNAC heptathlon recently.

Golf: Jim Meehan is back on the golf beat, though his old knee isn’t. He explains in this column.

Mariners: One day after a crushing defeat, the M’s bounced back with a late-inning rally and an 8-2 victory. Dave Nichols explains how they did it in his Mariners Log. The links are there.

Sounders: In a rematch of last year’s MLS title match, Toronto scored on a penalty kick and it held up, 1-0, over Seattle at CenturyLink. The Sounders are scuffling. … The team’s minor league affiliate is moving to Tacoma. … San Jose was a rude host, walloping Portland 3-0 behind Chris Wondolowski’s big night. … Real Salt Lake lost for the third consecutive time. … Los Angeles was headed toward another defeat but rallied for a draw against Chicago.

•••       

• My Bloomsday piece from Friday appeared in today’s print edition. But, no, that wasn’t me in the picture. The ones Chris Anderson took of my sweaty face afterward never made it to the S-R files. They are in a box in my desk, along with a prom picture and one of me on the beach in college. You know, photos no one else gets to see until my wake, when I no longer can be embarrassed. Until later …

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