- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

PREAKNESS

BALTIMORE (AP) - Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah, owned by Ahmed Zayat is the 4-5 morning-line favorite in an eight-horse field in the Preakness, and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza. Stablemate Dortmund, third in the Derby, is the second choice at 7-2, and Derby runner-up Firing Line is 4-1.

Dortmund also is trained by Baffert, setting up the possibility of a trainer spoiling his own Triple Crown chance. It happened 20 years ago to Lukas, but Baffert says of Dortmund: “He deserves another chance.”

Zayat, a three-time Derby runner-up before winning two weeks ago, is confident American Pharoah will prove again he’s the horse of a lifetime.

Dortmund, with Martin Garcia aboard, is looking to avenge his first loss after six wins; Firing Line ran second to Dortmund twice, then fell a length short of American Pharoah in the Derby.

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DEFLATEGATE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Tom Brady’s lawyers demanded that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recuse himself from the Super Bowl MVP’s “Deflategate” appeal and threatened to go to court unless the four-game suspension is overturned.

Laying out the grounds for dismissing the penalty and setting the stage for a potential federal court battle, the NFL Players Association said in a letter released Friday that Goodell can’t hear the appeal because he will be called as a witness.

“The NFLPA believes that neither Commissioner Goodell nor anyone with close ties to the NFL can serve as arbitrator in Mr. Brady’s appeal,” the letter said. “If the Commissioner does not appoint such a neutral arbitrator, the NFLPA and Mr. Brady will seek recusal and pursue all available relief to obtain an arbitrator who is not evidently partial.”

Brady was suspended for four games and the New England Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks after league investigator Ted Wells found that the Super Bowl champions used illegally inflated footballs in the AFC title game.

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WNBA

NEW YORK (AP) - WNBA stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson were suspended seven games each Friday for their domestic violence arrest last month - the league’s longest ban in its 19-year history.

WNBA President Laurel Richie said the league “takes all acts of violence extremely seriously” in handing down a suspension that represents nearly one-fifth of the 34-game regular season. Richie called the players’ actions “unacceptable.”

The punishment comes at a time when sports leagues around the country are reviewing domestic violence policies following high-profile cases involving the NFL. Richie said she consulted with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and a variety of experts.

Griner plays for the defending champion Phoenix Mercury and Johnson for the Tulsa Shock. The players got married last week in Phoenix, and their teams open camp Sunday. The league season begins June 5.

“I have already learned a tremendous amount from this experience and am committed to improving myself and my marriage going forward,” Griner said in a statement.

The WNBA said the two All-Stars must undergo individual counseling. If either fails to comply with that condition or those by the court, the league says it can revisit the case.

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HOCKEY

TORONTO (AP) - More than 400 people had offered Friday to give part of their liver to Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, a day after his family and the team made a public appeal.

The 55-year-old Melnyk was admitted to a hospital three weeks ago because of liver-related complications. He’s in critical condition.

Dr. Gary Levy, director of the living donor liver transplant program at Toronto’s University Health Network, said the response has been so overwhelming the transplant team hopes to have a donor match for Melnyk within 72 to 96 hours.

“There are a lot of very generous people out there,” Levy said.

In a statement Friday, the team said more than 1,000 calls have been received and many applications were sent to the donor transplant team in Toronto.

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NCAA

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee has recommended reducing the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds among a series of changes aimed at speeding up a game that has reached historic lows in scoring.

The NCAA experimented with a 30-second shot clock during the NIT and CIT postseason tournaments and the rules committee recommended making it permanent for the 2015-16 season. The shot clock was last reduced for the 1993-94 season, from 45 to 35 seconds.

Scoring in college basketball hit an all-time low in 2012-13 and nearly matched it last season, when teams scored 67.6 points per game.

The committee also recommended extending the restricted arc from three to four feet to reduce the number of collisions under the basket. Teams also would have one less second-half timeout.

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CAR RACING

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - France’s Simon Pagenaud posted the top speed on the fastest day of the week at Indianapolis.

The Team Penske topped the Indianapolis 500 speed chart by going 230.698 mph late in Friday’s practice.

Six drivers hit the 230 mark after series officials gave all cars a boost of roughly 50 horsepower for qualifying weekend.

Scott Dixon, of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, came in second at 230.655. Tony Kanaan, Dixon’s teammate, was third at 230.457. American Marco Andretti was fourth at 230.312

But after two consecutive days of big crashes, there were no crashes Friday.

Qualifying for the 500 begins Saturday. The nine fastest cars will advance to Sunday’s pole shootout and the final three qualifiers from Saturday can be bumped from the May 24 race.

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - NASCAR will soon require pit crew members to wear additional fire safety gear after a recent explosive accident at Richmond.

Three crew members were injured in a fire that erupted during a pit stop in last month’s Xfinity Series race. Fuel spilled as the crew was servicing Brendan Gaughan’s car and a spark ignited the blaze.

Starting June 4, all over-the-wall crew members must wear fire-protective underwear headgear and gloves. Beginning in August, fire-resistant socks will be required once they’ve been SFI-certified.

NASCAR senior vice president Robin Pemberton said Friday no teams complained about the new rules, which don’t include mandatory eyewear.


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