Bears

Pair of exciting finishes at Hawthorne Race Course

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Pair of exciting finishes at Hawthorne Race Course

Last weekend kicked off the stakes season at Hawthorne with a pair of state-bred stakes races on the Hawthorne turf course. Each race had a very close finish, one with an expected result, the other with an upset:

Coalport Just Gets There in Buck’s Boy Handicap

As expected, heavily favored Coalport, owned by Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey, won Saturday’s 18th running of the Buck’s Boy Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course. What wasn’t expected, however, was how hard he had to work to do it.

Trained by Michael Maker and ridden by Rafael Hernandez, Coalport scored his eighth turf victory from 18 tries and boosted his career earnings to $425,183 with the winner’s share of $34,185, the majority of which has been earned on the lawn.

Valiant City rushed to the early lead and set rather leisurely fractions of :24.46 and :48.83. Coalport was racing in fourth place at this point, a couple off the rail.

Hernandez kept him to the outside, out of trouble, while a number of their rivals made intermittent moves to their inside. They swung a little wider coming out of the turn and by the eighth pole, Hernandez was starting to urge him on.

“I tried to get him to relax early which he did” said Hernandez, “but the fractions were slow so he had to work a little harder trying to make up ground late. I had plenty of horse and I thought we were going to have an easier time of it. I sensed the one (Sweet Luca) coming from way back but I didn’t expect the 7 (Yankee Dealer) to run the way he did. But, my horse (Coalport) is a good horse and he really dug in.”

They went the mile and a sixteenth on a firm turf course in 1:41.96 after fractions of :24.46, :48.83, 1:12.42 and 1:35.93.

Coalport won by a neck over Yankee Dealer. It was another half length back to Sweet Luca.

Coalport paid $3.00, $2.60, $2.10
Yankee Dealer returned $10.60 and $5.00
Sweet Luca paid $2.20 to show


Alette Takes Illini Princess

The 37th running of the Illini Princess, restricted to fillies and mares, Illinois Registered Conceived and/or Foaled, promised to be a competitive event and it was. This race was contested at a mile and a sixteenth on a firm turf course. It carried a purse of $75,000 Added.

R Otto Stables’ Alette, trained by Chris Block and ridden by Eduardo Perez, came away with the victory. She was one of three in the race trained by Block. The other two, I O Ireland and Compelling Case went off as the favored entry.

Bellarada went right for the lead and ran a brisk first quarter but tired badly soon after. I O Ireland rushed up to the lead at that point and stayed there for much of the race before fading. That’s when the late runners started coming.

Alette and Kepi, racing widest of all, came running late to take the top two positions.

Alette got the mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.85 after fractions of :24.26, :48.39, 1:13.03, 1:36.79

Rider Eddie Perez thought he had a great trip and was glad that he was on the best horse. Trainer Chris Block was happy with the way all three of his runners raced. He was a little concerned that he couldn’t get a race into Alette, she last ran in July, but he knew that she was training very well and he was confident in her ability.

Alette finished first by three-quarters of a length. Kepi finished second. Lovely Loyree got up late to finish third.

Alette earned $36,000 for the victory, boosting her lifetime earnings to $190,096.

Alette paid $19.00. $7.80 and $6.00
Kepi returned $5.20 and $3.80
Lovely Loyree paid $4.60

Stakes action continues this weekend at Hawthorne with Illinois-bred two-year-old sprinters the focus. Fillies will head to the gate for the $75,000 Showtime Deb Stakes while the males lineup for the $75,000 Sun Power Stakes. Live racing at Hawthorne takes place Wednesday through Saturday with a 1:50 PM first post.

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

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USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

The Bears defense was not its usual self in their overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The pass rush was minimal and tackling looked optional, and Brock Osweiler threw for almost 400 yards.

There was plenty of blame to go around, but a few individual defenders had success while their teammates struggled.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks made the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week for Week 6 with a 92.2 overall grade.

He recorded seven tackles that resulted in a defensive “stop,” the most of any defensive lineman according to PFF.

Chicago’s next highest-graded player was cornerback Kyle Fuller (78.2), who intercepted Osweiler twice but also missed two tackles.

Offensively, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel led the way with a 76.9 mark. PFF credited four of his five catches coming against Dolphins cornerback Torry McTyer in coverage.

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Khalil Mack had the lowest-graded game of his career (47.8), while linebacker Danny Trevathan (29.9) and safety Adrian Amos Jr. (47.5) each had their second-worst games.

Some of the Bears’ best players were at their worst in Miami. They’re going to need to get their act together for the New England Patriots on Sunday.

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

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USA TODAY

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.