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Sports Briefs

Posted: Thursday, September 06, 2001

Nikiski's Britton takes King of Street

Becky Britton of Nikiski was the bracket winner in the King of the Street competition Saturday at Alaska Raceway Park in Palmer.

Britton, who races a 1982 Chevy Camaro, beat a field of 23 cars. Her final pass was against race veteran Jay Hunison of Anchorage and his 1966 Ford Mustang.

Britton dialed in at 13.35 seconds, while Hunison dialed in at 13.04. A dial-in time is a racer's estimation of how long a pass will take. The closest to that time, without going under it, wins. Britton made her pass in 13.38 seconds, while Hunison lost automatically when his pass was 13.00 seconds.

In racing at Alaska Raceway Park Monday, John Thirlwell of Nikiski finished second in the ET class and Soldotna's John Carsner Jr. won the snowmachine class.

Ivan Rodriguez out for season with knee injury

ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the second straight year, the Texas Rangers will be forced to finish the season without catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

The 10-time All-Star decided Wednesday to have surgery on his aching left knee after traveling to Los Angeles for an examination by orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum, the Anaheim Angels' doctor.

Rodriguez's other option was rest and medication with hope that the patella tendon inflammation would subside.

''I feel that having the surgery now is the best way for me to prepare for the next six or seven years of my major league career,'' Rodriguez said. ''I look forward to coming back strong next season.''

Rodriguez finished the season with a .308 average, 25 homers and 65 RBIs in 111 games.

Leaf fails physical, doesn't sign with Dallas

IRVING, Texas -- Ryan Leaf never saw the welcome the Dallas Cowboys had planned for him. He failed a physical because of a wrist problem and remains one of the NFL's many unemployed veteran quarterbacks.

Leaf's name and the No. 16 were written in black on a strip of white tape over a locker in the Cowboys' clubhouse Wednesday. Three pairs of shoes with 16 printed on the heel, a white practice jersey, a helmet and several unused hangars awaited him.

''It was an injury that concerned us enough that we couldn't make a decision to put him on the roster,'' Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. ''I know he was disappointed. I don't know that he was surprised. There's no question he was surprised it would impact our decision as much as it did.''

Jones said that after an initial evaluation discovered the problem, specialists were brought in to give it a further look. He declined to give any more specifics.

Yashin signs 10-year deal worth nearly $90 million

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Alexei Yashin agreed to the biggest contract package in NHL history Wednesday, a 10-year deal with the New York Islanders worth nearly $90 million.

The 27-year-old Russian center had given up millions by sitting out an NHL season in Ottawa.

''It's a privilege for me to know that I will be spending the rest of my career on Long Island,'' he said at a news conference.

The deal eclipses the one the Colorado Avalanche gave Joe Sakic in July -- five years, $50.5-million. The Avalanche have an option for a sixth year that would increase the package to $57 million.

Washington's Jaromir Jagr will make $20.7 million over the next two seasons, making him the highest-paid player by annual salary.

Yashin, who earned $3.6 million last season with Ottawa, will report to training camp Tuesday in Lake Placid, N.Y.

''To add a player of Alexei's caliber means great things for this hockey club,'' general manager Mike Milbury said.

Baffert bids Point Given farewell

DEL MAR, Calif. -- Smiles replaced tears for trainer Bob Baffert on Wednesday when he bid farewell to the injured Point Given and then watched 2-year-old Officer cruise to a 1 1/2-length victory in the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity.

''It was very sad to retire the big horse because of the excitement and special feelings that we felt for him,'' Baffert said. ''I'm still feeling a little bit sad, but Officer has got a lot of weight to carry. Hopefully if he stays together for a long time, we've got something special here.''

With Point Given headed for stud, Officer is one of Baffert's best hopes for next year's Triple Crown races. Officer has won all four of his starts by a combined 22 1/2 lengths, including three at Del Mar.

''He's the best 2-year-old I've ever seen,'' said Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia, whose Thoroughbred Corp. owns Officer. ''This horse is a phenomenon. If he stays in one piece, I don't know.''

Ridden by Victor Espinoza and carrying co-high weight of 121 pounds, Officer covered 7 furlongs in 1:22 1-5 and paid $2.20 and $2.10. The colt has been the odds-on favorite in all of his races, including Wednesday when he went off at 1-9, creating a minus place pool of $128,734.

''I've never had anything to do with a horse like this before,'' Espinoza said. ''He's so good. He's so professional. I have so much confidence in him.''

Running three-wide, Officer took the lead past the quarter pole and easily put away Kamsack and Metatron, who traded sharing the lead much of the way.

''He does it so effortlessly,'' Baffert said. ''That's the way a trainer loves to see horses win, just off the pace. He's got a mind like Silver Charm, he relaxes easy and you can do what you want. That's very rare when you have one with that kind of talent.''

Kamsack returned $2.10. Metatron was another 3 1/2 lengths back in third. Striking Song was fourth and Historic Speech last. There was no show wagering after Ecstatic and Expected Program were scratched.

''It looks like Baffert and the prince have another great horse on their hands,'' said Christopher Paasch, Kamsack's trainer. ''The baton's been passed from Point Given to Officer.''

Baffert won the Futurity for the sixth year in a row. Before a closing-day crowd of 15,191, he wrapped up the Del Mar training title for the fifth consecutive year with 29 victories, well ahead of Bobby Frankel's 18.

Earlier in the day, Point Given paused at the tunnel leading to the track, looking for all the world like he wanted to join the other horses for the third race.

Instead, the big chestnut colt bowed his head and continued walking circles in the paddock while fans snapped pictures of the newly retired Preakness and Belmont winner.

''He loves it,'' Baffert said, watching Point Given regally pose for photographers and a quiet crowd.

Under overcast skies at the seaside track where he won his first race, Point Given bid farewell, his career cut short by a tendon strain in his left front leg. The injury, discovered last Thursday, would have sidelined the 3-year-old colt for six months.

Rather than have Point Given miss so much time, owner Salman and Baffert decided to retire him.

''Losing a horse like Point Given is like snatching Tiger Woods from the PGA Tour,'' Baffert said.

After the third race, in which Baffert's horses finished 1-2, Point Given was led onto the track with Baffert and Salman each holding a rein.

''Nothing makes up for the retirement of Point Given,'' Salman said after Officer's win. ''He was so special to me. It's like my own child.''

Cheers rose from the grandstand as track announcer Trevor Denman read Point Given's accomplishments, including being the first horse to win four consecutive $1 million races. He won nine races and earned nearly $4 million in his surprisingly brief career.

Without a saddle and with his lower legs wrapped in white, Point Given visited the winner's circle one final time to pose for pictures. Salman wiped his eye.

During a replay of Point Given's 12-length Belmont victory, Baffert looked on from the winner's circle, his arm around the shoulder of girlfriend Jill Moss, who rested her right hand in his. They joined the fans in applauding as Point Given crossed the finish line. Baffert removed his trademark glasses and wiped his eyes, while Moss brushed away tears.

''It's kind of sad. I'm going to miss him,'' said exercise rider Pepe Aragon, who often got tossed by the frisky colt during their morning workouts. ''At least he's OK. That's the main thing. Too bad we couldn't run him one more time.''



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