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Sports Digest: Baffert accepts 24-hour security with body cams, strict testing at Breeders' Cup – pressherald.com


HORSE RACING

Bob Baffert is not only the most recognizable trainer in horse racing, he’s also the most scrutinized. As a condition of being allowed to run his horses in the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar on Nov. 5-6, he has agreed to unprecedented screening, observation and testing, including security officers with body cams and abandoning usual withdrawal times for legal medications.

The move by the Breeders’ Cup comes in the wake of five medication violations in a year’s time, two of which were dismissed as being the result of contamination and one in which Baffert hasn’t been charged.

It’s the one in which charges haven’t been filed that has put Baffert in the crosshairs of two of the three big horse racing track operators, Churchill Downs Inc. and the New York Racing Assn.

Medina Spirit, the conditional winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby and scheduled to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, tested positive for betamethasone after running in the Derby. It’s a legal anti-inflammatory, but not legal on race day. Baffert contends that the colt was administered the medication in an ointment to treat a rash. The more common use of betamethasone is administered by intra-articular injection.

CDI then banned Baffert from its tracks for two years, which includes participation in the Kentucky Derby, and the New York Racing Assn. is seeking to ban him from its tracks. Baffert has been in litigation with NYRA and is awaiting a hearing in January. Baffert has not yet filed an action against CDI. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has yet to set a hearing date or charge Baffert.

Baffert has accepted the security measures imposed by the Breeders’ Cup.

COLLEGES

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Drew Timme could have left for the NBA after leading Gonzaga into last season’s national title game. He likely would have been drafted and gone on to have a solid career.

But Timme wanted more. Certainly, a chance to finish off a championship run, but also to work one more season with Coach Mark Few.

There was an added benefit, too: Timme was the lone unanimous selection by a 63-person media panel on The Associated Press preseason All-America team. He was joined by Illinois big man Kofi Cockburn, UCLA guard Johnny Juzang, Villanova point guard Collin Gillespie and Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Timme transformed from a freshman backup to one of the nation’s best big men last season, earning second-team All-America honors. He was a key cog in Gonzaga’s return to the NCAA title game, averaging 19 points and 7.0 rebounds while creating matchup problems for nearly every team the Zags faced.

The 6-foot-10 forward can shoot from the perimeter, post up smaller players, is an adept passer and has excellent footwork, attributes that had him projected to go late in the first round or early in the second of the NBA draft.

Timme’s return was a key to Gonzaga being voted No. 1 in the preseason AP Top 25 despite losing several key players.

FOOTBALL: Texas Tech fired Coach Matt Wells, two days after the Red Raiders couldn’t hold a two-touchdown halftime lead in a loss at home to Kansas State.

Wells had a shot at his first winning record in his third season with the Red Raiders, but an inability to win Big 12 games plagued him just as it did predecessor Kliff Kingsbury, who also was fired.

The Red Raiders (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) didn’t win consecutive conference games under Wells, who came from Utah State to replace Kingsbury. Texas Tech was 13-17 overall and 7-16 in conference under Wells. Kingsbury was 19-35 in league play in six seasons.

Athletic director Kirby Hocutt announced the move and said offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie would serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Tech visits No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday.

• North Carolina State Coach Dave Doeren says starting linebacker Isaiah Moore and starting left guard Chandler Zavala have suffered season-ending injuries.

Doeren said both will need surgery, though he didn’t specify the exact nature of the injuries.

• Auburn Coach Bryan Harsin declined to address his vaccination status days after the university imposed a mandate requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

The university mandate, which went into effect last Friday, imposes a Dec. 8 deadline for employees to be vaccinated or they could face termination.

Harsin has declined to say whether he’s vaccinated since reporters first asked at Southeastern Conference media days in July.

“I’m aware of the new policy,” he said. “I appreciate you have to ask the question and understand it, but it doesn’t change … I mean, the executive order, all those things, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not going to discuss any individual’s decision or status on the vaccine or anyone else’s including my own, like I said before.

“So from the beginning, I think I’ve made it clear that that wasn’t something that I was going to talk about or discuss. I wasn’t going to go down that road and don’t feel like right now that’s any different.”

TENNIS

DAVIS CUP: Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev headline the rosters announced for the Davis Cup Finals that begin next month.

Djokovic, a 20-time major champion who fell one win short of a calendar-year Grand Slam in 2021, is joined on Serbia’s squad by Filip Krajinovic, Dusan Lajovic, Laslo Djere and Miomir Kekmanovic.

Medvedev, who is ranked No. 2 and claimed his first Grand Slam title by beating Djokovic in the final at Flushing Meadows in September, leads a Russian team that includes No. 6 Andrey Rublev, No. 19 Aslan Karatsev, No. 30 Karen Khachanov and Evgeny Donskoy.

Eighteen countries will participate in group-stage matches starting Nov. 25 on indoor hard courts in Madrid; Innsbruck, Austria; and Turin, Italy. After quarterfinals in those cities, the semifinals and final will be held in Madrid.

Spain is the reigning champion thanks to its 2019 title; the Davis Cup was called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

ST. PETERSBURG OPEN: American Sebastian Korda advanced to the second round in Russia with a 7-6 (2), 7-5 win over Nino Serdarusic.

Korda, who won his first ATP Tour trophy this year in Parma, will next face third-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut at the hard-court tournament.

ERSTE BANK OPEN: Andy Murray earned his first win against a top-10 opponent in 14 months by defeating Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 in the opening round at Vienna.

Murray missed a match point on Hurkacz’s serve in the second-set tiebreaker but the former No. 1 rallied from a break down in the final set to wrap up the win after more than 2 hours, 40 minutes.

It was his first top-10 win since beating Alexander Zverev at the Cincinnati Masters in August 2020, and his first win of the season against a player ranked in the top 20.

Murray won the tournament on both his previous appearances – in 2014 and 2016.

SOCCER

GERMANY: Mark van Bommel became the first Bundesliga coach to lose his job this season when he was fired by Wolfsburg on Sunday after just nine league games in charge.

He’s unlikely to be the last. A handful of other coaches are under increasing pressure in Germany and the case of Van Bommel showed how quickly clubs can lose patience.

Van Bommel had started well with five wins across all competitions, but the former Dutch international made a major error in the first, when he fielded six substitutes instead of the permitted five in a German Cup win over Preußen Munster.

Wolfsburg was subsequently thrown out of the competition in favor of the fourth-tier side, and though the club brushed it off by offering six tickets for the price of five and winning its first four league games, it has since gone five matches in the Bundesliga and three in the Champions League without a victory.

Saturday’s 2-0 loss at home to Freiburg was Van Bommel’s last game in charge. It was another uncertain performance after consecutive defeats to Salzburg, Union Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach.


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