Big Brown breezes; Astros refuse to lose
It was a great weekend for horse racing fans and for those baseball fans who have been hoping during the first month of the season that their Houston Astros would begin to play the type of ball they are more accustomed to watching.
Saturday was Derby Day as the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby took place as usual on the first weekend in May at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville , KY. Big Brown, the early unbeaten favorite, lost some of his support when he drew the far outside post position in this huge 20 horse field.
Big Brown’s trainer Rick Dutrow had been boasting all week about how his big bay colt justified every accolade thrown his way and that he was one of the best horses to ever run for the roses.
Jockey Kent Desormeaux, who ran many a race in Louisiana earlier in his career, kept Big Brown away from the congested area of the track until he was ready to turn his horse loose for the final stretch run.
Big Brown caught the leader and then hit another gear to fly past the field and win by 4 1/2 lengths over Eight Belles, who sadly had to be euthanized after breaking both front ankles shortly after crossing the finish line.
Big Brown became the seventh unbeaten Derby winner with his four consecutive win and the first since Regret in 1915 to have raced only three times previously. He also was only the third horse in 60 years to win after racing in just two Derby preps—Sunny Halo in 1983 and Street sense last year were the others.
The strong-willed colt, who was named in honor of the United Postal Service client of the owner, also became only the second winner to start from the No. 20 post. The gelding Clyde Van Dusen did it in 1929. Big Brown earned $1,451,800 for the win and paid $6.80 to win, $5 to place and $4.80 to show.
It was the third Derby win for Desormeaux, who also won aboard Real Quiet in 1998 and Pegasus in 2000. We watched the race at Delta Downs with good friend Tommy Melton and ran into many seasoned railbirds who really think Big Brown may be the closest horse to Secretariat they have seen.
Big Brown definitely will be the odds-on favorite in the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, the Preakness on May 17 at Pimlico in Baltimore .
And while on the subject of winners, our Houston Astros had a great weekend at the expense of the Milwaukee Brewers in Minute Maid Park after returning from a road trip in which they played .500 baseball.
The Astros trailed by as many as four runs in this three-game series, but started banging out home runs which resulted in three come-from-behind wins over the stunned Brewers.
Ace pitcher Roy Oswalt started the opener of the series Friday night and shoddy fielding and a couple of mental errors helped Milwaukee to an early 4-0 lead. Hunter Pence drilled a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning making the score 4-2.
Miguel Tejada crashed a two-run home run in the sixth inning, tying the score, Lance Berkman followed with a solo shot to the Crawford Boxes in left giving the Astros their first lead at 5-4 and Carlos Lee followed with a long home run to left-center as Houston went back-to-back-to back for the first time this year and only the fifth time in franchise history.
Pence hit his second home run of the night and the fifth for the Astros as they won the opener 7-4 after trailing 4-0.
On Saturday starting pitcher Brandon Backe gave up a home run to Brewer’s leadoff batter Rickie Weeks and the Astros tied it at 1-1 in the third inning. Backe helped his cause in the bottom of the fifth with a solo homer to the Crawford Boxes and Michael Bourn followed with a round-tripper, giving Houston back-to-back home runs again.
The Astros scored three more times in the fifth on RBI hits by Tejada and Pence plus a wild pitch, upping the count to 6-2. Backe gained the mound victory as the Astros won 6-3.
On Sunday Houston found itself behind 6-2 thanks to a bunch of extra-base hits and a pair of homers by Mike Cameron. But the Astros battled back against undefeated ace Ben Sheets and scored two runs reducing the deficit to 6-4.
The score remained 6-4 until the bottom of the ninth when the Brewers brought in their ace closer Eric Gagne who gave up lead-off pinch-hit singles to Darin Erstad and Geoff Blum and three walks including one with the bases loaded to Berkman to tie the game at 6-6.
The score remained 6-6 until the bottom of the 12th when Berkman singled and Pence hit a game-winning walk-off home run, giving the Astros an 8-6 victory and a three-game sweep over the Brewers. Berkman had a home run, two doubles, a single and drove in four runs while Pence hit his third homer of the three-game series as the Astros finally reached the .500 plateau by evening their record at 16-16.
The six-game homestand continues Tuesday with a three-game series against the Washington Nationals as the Astros try to keep their bats hot after belting nine round-trippers against the Brewers.
KWICKIES…A tip of the Korner Kap to the Little Cypress-Mauriceville baseball team for coming back from an opening-game loss Friday night to whip Huffman in a doubleheader Saturday 8-5 and 11-2 and advance in the Class 4A state playoffs. The Battlin’ Bears (24-8) will meet District 24-4A champion Lamar Consolidated in next week’s area round.
After enjoying a bye in the opening round of the Class 4A state tournament in baseball, the Bridge City Cardinals are set to play Needville in a best-of-three series beginning Thursday. All games will be played at Humble High School .
The new website for Sunset Grove Country Club is up and running and will give you a rundown of upcoming events and golf tournaments plus photographs of each hole on the 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course. You can visit the website at www.sunsetgrovecc.com/site.
Former LCM and current LSU star softball pitcher Cody Trahan picked up two more mound wins for the Lady Tigers last weekend as LSU prepares for the upcoming post-season tournaments.
Houston Rockets star Tracy McGrady is now 0-7 in playoff series during his career after the Rockets got bounced from the NBA playoffs by the Utah Jazz Friday night 112-91, losing the best-of-seven series 4-2. The Jazz moved on to the second round and lost Game 1 to the Los Angeles Lakers 109-98 on Sunday.
JUST BETWEEN US…Defending national champion LSU’s head coach Les Miles did the right thing in this Korner’s opinion by kicking troubled quarterback Ryan Perrilloux off the Tigers football team last weekend. Perrilloux, one of the nation’s most sought-after high school quarterbacks, had all the right stuff on the football field, but became an increasing distraction off the field with his lack of discipline by breaking team rules and sometimes the law, missing team meetings, conditioning drills and skipping classes. He was suspended last summer and during recent spring drills but plans on finishing the spring semester to remain eligible to play next season at a Division I-AA school if he transfers to a school willing to accept a great football player who brings a lot of baggage with him.