Preps Talk

Favorite American Pharoah rallies to win Kentucky Derby

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Favorite American Pharoah rallies to win Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Brilliant but untested, American Pharoah was put to a fight in the Kentucky Derby and won.

Sent off as the 5-2 favorite by the record crowd of 170,513, the brown colt rallied in the stretch to beat Firing Line by a length Saturday and deliver trainer Bob Baffert's fourth Derby win and first since 2002.

"It's a fantasy moment for us," said a joyous Baffert, surrounded by his three older sons and his youngest, 10-year-old Bode, who jumped up and down and waved his arms in celebration.

Baffert also saddled third-place Dortmund, the other part of his lethal 1-2 punch in the 141st Derby. Firing Line finished second.

"We were ready to rumble," Baffert said.

Dortmund set a leisurely pace with Firing Line tracking him closely in second. American Pharoah sat comfortably in third down the backstretch.

That trio made it a three-horse race in the stretch, with none of the closers able to make up ground. American Pharoah angled outside and fought off a persistent Firing Line as Dortmund tired along the rail.

Victor Espinoza won his second consecutive Derby a year after being aboard California Chrome, and third overall.

"He's been a special horse since I first rode him," Espinoza said. "I feel like the luckiest Mexican on Earth."

American Pharoah ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.02.

Baffert tied D. Wayne Lukas and Herbert "Derby Dick" Thompson for second on the career win list.

American Pharoah paid $7.80, $5.80, $4.20.

Firing Line returned $8.40 and $5.40, while Dortmund was another two lengths back in third and paid $4.20 to show.

Owner Ahmed Zayat accepted the gold winner's trophy — his first after a trio of second-place finishes.

American Pharoah missed his first big test last year when he was scratched from the Breeders' Cup with an injury. He returned with two easy wins this year against lesser competition. Dortmund and several other Derby contenders had beaten much tougher fields, raising questions about whether American Pharoah could mix it up in a 20-horse field.

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 1 Whitney Young

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 1 Whitney Young

Whitney Young

2017-18 record: 28-8, 7-2 Public League Red-North/West

Postseason results: Lost to Belleville West in Class 4A state title game.

Players to watch: The junior backcourt of Fenwick transfer D.J. Steward and Tyler Beard is potentially the best in the state as both players are consensus top-75 national prospects. Senior Myles Baker is poised for a big season after some strong play last season. Other seniors like Justin Warren and Keenan Jones are great role players who have helped win plenty of games.

Why they're in the power rankings: After falling just short of back-to-back Class 4A championships last season, Whitney Young reloads to replace departed seniors like Javon Freeman and Xavier Castaneda. It's rare a high school team loses two Division I prospects and replenishes with a backcourt that could be better, but that's the case here with Whitney Young. The Dolphins have the upside to be the state's best team this season.

Did you know? Whitney Young has been a state final qualifier seven times -- including five times under current head coach Tyrone Slaughter. 

Bears-Vikings is most tightly contested game of Week 11

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USA TODAY

Bears-Vikings is most tightly contested game of Week 11

With so much parity in the NFL, every week on the schedule has close matchups. This weekend, though, the Bears and the Minnesota Vikings are expected to play the closest.

NFL experts trying to predict Sunday night’s matchup are torn on who they think is going to win, but Chicago has the slight advantage according to NFL Pick Watch.

55 percent of experts are picking the Bears to extend their NFC North lead, the closest margin of predictions for any game this week.

Even Monday night’s contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams has a larger majority supporting Jared Goff and company at 60 percent.

The analytics are also in agreement in support of Matt Nagy in prime time. Microsoft Cortana, FiveThirtyEight, Number Fire and Pro Football Focus analytics are all among the majority picking the Bears.

Our own J.J. Stankevitz predicts they could have statement game to establish themselves as a legitimate contender this season.

Chicago is favored by a slight margin on Las Vegas sportsbooks, but in the battle for first place in the division, anything can happen.