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Sports Columns

Keeping Score: Behold the Pharoah

Good morning! The gates opened early today at Saratoga Race Course, where 50,000 people are pushing and tugging for a look at Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Not since hippies danced in the mud at Yasgur’s farm has upstate New York been inundated by such a celebratory crowd of thrill seekers. The 3-year-old brown colt has reeled off eight straight wins and is the 1-5 favorite to win again today in the 146th Travers Stakes. The 13-race card is a sellout. Grandstand seats are selling 0

On The Trail: The bear situation

The Sturgeon Moon is building toward its Saturday climax in the deep midnight sky, with the smell of cow corn in the air. Bear season is upon us. For the first time in recent memory this year it will be extended 12 days by adding a third segment, that being a slugs-only opportunity coinciding with shotgun deer season. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. The first 17-day September bear season opens on Sept. 8 — as usual, the day after Labor Day. MassWildlife has 0

Jaywalking: Participation trophies get little support locally

Trophies for everyone does nothing for anyone. That was how one local coach summed it up when asked for thoughts on participation trophies. It has become one of the most debated topics across the land recently, after volatile Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison said that he confiscated what he considers pointless awards from his 6- and 8-year-old sons after they returned from a football camp. Here’s what he had to say to defend his verdict: I came home to find out that my boys received 0

On The Trail: Cougar comments

Cougars and catfish derbies, a book recently finished, and a troubling climate-change piece in last week’s Rolling Stone magazine. Hmmmm? Where to start? OK, cougars. Yes, cougars, despite that recent call from a woman I’ve known for some time pleading that I cease and desist writing about them. She says she and others know of a pair, including a grayish colored female, and fears some 4-wheeler yahoos will soon shoot one dead. I don’t know what to think of such a claim, but I’m always 0

Jaywalking: Pedal power

Who would have figured that it would be the recipe for something so popular? Start with a little bit of bicycling, add a dash of camping and throw in a whole lot of Iowa. The result is something called the RAGBRAI, an annual bicycling event across the state of Iowa. A few weeks back, Tim and Laura Kelleher took a break from running the Smith-Kelleher Funeral Home to make the trek to the heartland, where they took part in the event. The two Greenfield residents 0

Keeping Score: No breaks

(Second of two parts) Good morning! Monica Driver was “catatonic with nerves” before the seventh race at Saratoga Race Course on August 3. Turf races favor horses that have drawn the inside posts, and her 5-year-old gelding named Analysis would be stationed on the outside in post 10 (which is 1-for-22 at this writing). That was the least of her worries. As the managing partner of the Mosaic Racing Stable, she would be answering to the concerns of the stable’s other members on race day. 0

On The Trail: Shelled mystery

A gray, wet Tuesday morning, rain pelting down, backyard brook up a little and running muddy as the dogs crunch dry nuggets from rusty, cast-iron Wagner skillets on the concrete floor just inside the cook-shed stoop. It’s looking more and more like this morning we’ll just walk the brook a short distance once they’re through eating, me taking special precautions, wearing my light green rubber Crocs with bald, slippery treads indeed underfoot. But then, as though ordered from the heavens, the rain lets up considerably 0

Jaywalking: Inspirational competitor

The Bridge of Flowers 10K Classic always seems to bring about incredible feats of athleticism. Whether it’s someone more than twice my age completing the course, someone finishing in an incredible time or something else, when 1,000 runners gather for the event, you are sure to see something inspiring. Saturday’s race may have been the most inspirational yet, as Naomi Clark of Ashfield pedaled her way into history when she became the first person in a wheelchair to compete in and finish the course. Clark 0

Keeping Score: Group Analysis

Good morning! Before the seventh race at Saratoga on Monday, Bill Gutfarb and several of his syndicate partners were keeping a keen eye on Analysis, their gelded racehorse sired by Freud. “He gets rattled in the paddock,” said Robert Driver, whose wife Monica operates the Mosaic Racing Stable. “We put cotton in his ears.” Back in the barn trainer George Weaver had already saddled the 5-year-old gelding twice without incident, but here in the paddock Analysis was throwing a fit. “That’s not a good sign,” 0

On The Trail: Harbingers of fall

Maybe I’m getting old and that’s why time flies as it does, but it’s hard to believe that summer has already faded to its stretch run. Signs abound in the fields, the woods, the ornamental bushes gracing tidy country lawns. The first hint for me that fall was near were my two Rose of Sharon bushes sporting purple flowers, which, by the way, my dog, Chubby, eats daily. He actually goes to the bush along my western perimeter, securely envelops a blossom between his jaws, 0