- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

HORSE RACING

NEW YORK (AP) - American Pharoah picked up the training tempo Thursday morning as he prepares for the Triple Crown try in the Belmont Stakes.

On Wednesday, the colt trained by Bob Baffert tested Belmont Park’s sandy surface for the first time with a very leisurely jog around the 1½-mile oval.

By Thursday, he was raring to go.

Accompanied by stable pony Smokey, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner set out at 8:45 a.m. for a strong gallop with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez in the saddle.

Head bowed and ears pricked forward, American Pharoah glided around the track with owners Ahmed and Justin Zayat looking on.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A judge has thrown out a lawsuit over $1.65 million in gambling debts against the owner of racehorse American Pharoah.

The dismissal of the lawsuit against Ahmed Zayat comes during horse racing’s biggest week, as American Pharoah chases the first Triple Crown in 37 years.

Zayat’s horse will try to win the first Triple Crown since 1978 when he races in the Belmont Stakes this weekend.

Last year Florida resident Howard Rubinsky sued Zayat, claiming Zayat owed him $1.65 million he had advanced him for gambling bets placed at offshore casinos.

A federal judge in Newark ruled Thursday that Rubinsky’s suit was filed after New Jersey’s statute of limitations had expired.

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NCAA

The NCAA has charged North Carolina with five violations connected to the school’s long-running academic fraud scandal, including a lack of institutional control for poor oversight of an academic department popular with athletes.

The school released a notice of allegations received from the NCAA, which uses the document to specify violations uncovered during an investigation.

The charges include providing improper benefits in the form of counselors making “special arrangements” with staffers in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department to offer courses or obtain assignments for athletes, as well as a counselor working with the women’s basketball program providing improper help on research papers.

All five charges are considered Level I violations, described by the NCAA as a “severe breach of conduct.”

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NFL

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - John Bowlen, the 29-year-old son of Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, has been placed on indefinite leave from the team following his arrest on domestic violence charges.

The younger Bowlen was arrested Wednesday night in Glendale, Colorado, on suspicion of third-degree assault and harassment after allegedly pushing his girlfriend up against a bathroom wall, police said.

“We are disappointed to learn of the matter involving John Bowlen,” the Broncos said in a statement, adding, “While this is a personal issue, he is accountable to all club and league conduct policies. As such, John will be placed on an indefinite leave of absence from the organization.”

Bowlen is a candidate to take over the team from his father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Pat Bowlen relinquished his duties almost a year ago.

Team president and CEO Joe Ellis said last month that the transfer of ownership to one of Bowlen’s seven children was still a ways off.

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FIFA

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) - South African authorities have opened a preliminary investigation into World Cup bribery allegations, and an opposition lawmaker said Thursday he had information suggesting “high-level” involvement.

Anton Alberts of the Freedom Front Plus said the information his party received claimed a previous investigation into payments around the World Cup bid was stopped by “high-level interference.”

“It (the information) does tell us of an event that took place and an investigation that was stunted from a political level,” said Alberts, an opposition member of parliament.

The South African investigation comes after the U.S. Department of Justice last week indicted 14 people on corruption charges related to soccer. Seven of them were arrested in Zurich ahead of the FIFA congress and are awaiting extradition.

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BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Restraints on signing bonuses that started in 2012 likely have cost ballplayers in the amateur draft more than $100 million over the last three years.

Baseball’s players’ union agreed to the fiscal rule change, which steered more money toward veterans and away from beginning professionals.

The change also means players subject to the draft are not getting the same hefty signing bonuses given to some international players.

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman sees big bonuses for a few young Cuban amateurs and thinks he might have been shortchanged when he signed for more than $4 million in 2012 as a first-rounder.

MLB’s 30 clubs have strictly followed draft budgets, but some teams haven’t been deterred by similar fiscal rules for international players.

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton was put on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, only seven games into his return to the majors.

The Rangers made the move before a series finale against the Chicago White Sox after saying the previous night Hamilton will be sidelined about four weeks because of a strained left hamstring.

Left-hander Ross Detwiler was activated from the disabled list.

Hamilton had a game-ending, two-run double as pinch-hitter Sunday, then missed two games with tightness before an MRI. He was hitting .273 with two home runs and five RBIs.

He second-guessed himself for aggravating a tight hamstring.

“Everything in me said, “You should probably wrap your leg,” he said. “And it’s like, no, I don’t need to wrap it. It will be good for one at-bat. It’s a lesson learned.”

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NHL

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - The Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t apologizing for wanting to fill seats for home games during the Stanley Cup Final with their own fans, rather than thousands hoping to root for the Chicago Blackhawks.

The team instituted a policy at the start of the playoffs last month of not selling tickets on the Internet to out-of-state residents, and the club has been hearing from fans of visiting NHL teams who feel slighted ever since.

“Detroit fans were upset in the first round. Montreal fans complained the next round, and New York fans joined in the next round. Now, Chicago fans are taking their turn,” Lightning executive vice president of communications Bill Wickett said. “Our fans love it.”

Through Game 1 of the Cup Final, which Chicago won 2-1 on Wednesday night, the Lightning have had 11 home dates at Amalie Arena and announced each one as a sellout of 19,204.

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