Another upset at Derby
LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 4 (UPI) -- Funny Cide grabbed the lead heading into the long stretch run and held off every challenge Saturday to win the Kentucky Derby.
It was yet another upset at the Derby as heavy favorite Empire Maker was unable to take advantage of a perfect situation at the top of the stretch. Empire Maker stalled in a bid to overtake Funny Cide and finished second, 1 3/4 lengths back. Peace Rules was third.
Sent off at odds of 12-1, the bargain-basement colt not only beat a field of regally bred rivals but also became the first New York-bred ever to win America's most famous horse race. In addition, Funny Cide was the first gelding to win since Clyde Van Dusen did so in 1929.
With Jose Santos up, Funny Cide ran the 1 ¼ mile in a good time of 2:01.19 -- the 10th fastest Derby ever.
Funny Cide paid $27.60, $12.40 and $8.20; Empire Maker $5.80 and $4.40; and Peace Rules $6. The $2 exacta paid $97 and the $2 trifecta paid $664.80.
Funny Cide started from post position No. 6 and quickly established a stalking position as Brancusi and Peace Rules led the field into the first turn. Santos edged the colt up and challenged the leaders on the turn.
Brancusi gave it up -- he finished last -- and Funny Cide was in front and outside of Peace Rules with a quarter mile to go.
While Funny Cide was taking the lead, jockey Jerry Bailey asked Empire Maker, the Florida Derby and Wood Memorial winner, for his best run and he ranged up on Funny Cide's outside flank as they ran down the stretch. But he said at that point he knew he wasn't going to have enough horse.
"He just didn't respond with the same authority as he did in his earlier races," Bailey said.
Santos, however, said he knew at the three-eighths pole that his horse was going to win.
The outcome continued a long streak of struggles for Kentucky Derby favorites. Only once since 1979 has the favorite won the race, that being Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.
Stars survive Ducks
DALLAS, May 4 (UPI) -- Rookie Niko Kapanen scored twice Saturday as the Dallas Stars staved off elimination by handing the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim a 4-1 setback.
Ottawa, meanwhile, moved in front of its series with a 5-2 decision over Vancouver.
Dallas chased goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere and dealt the Ducks their first lopsided loss of the playoffs.
Rob DiMaio and Stu Barnes had the other goals for the Stars, who climbed within three games to two in the Western Conference semifinal series. Anaheim will have another chance to wrap it up at home on Monday.
Through their first eight playoff games, no one was able to get a two-goal lead on the Ducks as Giguere compiled a remarkable .960 save percentage and 1.27 goals-against average. But he watched the final period from the bench as top-seeded Dallas built a 3-0 lead.
DiMaio opened the scoring 9:20 into the first period, scoring his first playoff goal in 25 games since the 1999 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Stu Barnes made it 2-0 exactly five minutes later and Kapanen added a shorthanded goal with 1:50 to go in the second period.
In Ottawa, Roman Cechmanek surrendered four goals before he was pulled midway through the second period as the Ottawa Senators moved within one win of their first trip to the Eastern Conference finals.
Radek Bonk had a power-play goal and an assist and Marian Hossa set up a pair of power-play tallies for the Senators, who grabbed a three games to two lead in the conference semifinal series and can end it Monday in Philadelphia.
Cechmanek cannot handle prosperity, falling to 1-8 lifetime following a playoff win. He was coming off his second shutout of the series but stopped just 12 of 16 shots and was replaced by Robert Esche.
The Flyers scored first for the fifth time in as many games, stunning the Corel Centre crowd on Claude Lapointe's goal 21 seconds into the game. But it was all Ottawa thereafter.
Alabama fires Mike Price
TUSCALOOSA, Ala., May 4 (UPI) -- The University of Alabama announced Saturday the school had dismissed football Coach Mike Price.
His tenure with the Crimson Tide ended without him having worked a single game. Price was unable to defuse the controversy surrounding his off-the-field behavior, which included a visit to a topless bar and unusual charges to a hotel bill.
University President Robert Witt announced his decision after a meeting with the school's Board of Trustees and after a public forum, during which which Alabama players asked that their coach be retained.
"This is a sad day for a good man, a sad day for some wonderful football players," Witt said. "It is a sad day for us."
Price pleaded his case with Witt, but Alabama instead will begin the search for its third coach in four years.
"I asked president Witt for a second chance and he declined," Price said. "Whatever happened to a second chance in life? You don't have to go far to ask my players about second chances. I wanted to make something positive about this negative."
Price came under intense scrutiny from alumni and university officials after he allegedly spent time at a topless club in Pensacola, Fla. on April 16 while in town for a pro-am charity golf tournament.
Various reports claim Price was present and that the next morning a woman in Price's hotel room ordered more than $1,000 in food and drinks and charged it to his bill. Those reports alleged the woman ordered one of every item on the menu and asked that it be placed in boxes so she could take them with her.
Price apologized for his behavior but claimed he never was given a chance to state his case before the Board of Trustees.
Davis gets rare win
TORONTO, May 4 (UPI) -- Claimed off waivers Wednesday, Doug Davis went six innings for his first win in exactly a year Saturday, a 7-1 decision for Toronto over Anaheim.
Vernon Wells paced the Blue Jays' attack with his second grand slam of the season.
Davis (1-0) scattered eight hits, walked one and struck out one in his first win since May 3, 2002, when as a member of the Texas Rangers he gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings at Cleveland.
The 27-year-old lefthander lost three straight decisions after that win and was optioned to Class AAA Oklahoma, where he pitched until suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in July.
Davis began this season in the minors and started last Saturday for the Rangers against the New York Yankees, when he left without a decision after allowing four runs and four hits in three innings.
Texas, which entered Saturday second-to-last in the American League with a 5.64 ERA, designated Davis for assignment on Monday. Toronto, which entered Saturday with a 5.80 ERA, won its third straight game.
Other American League results: Texas 6, Cleveland 5; Tampa Bay 8, Detroit 6 in 10 innings; Oakland 5, New York 3; Boston 9, Minnesota 1; Baltimore 6, Kansas City 1; Seattle 12, Chicago 2.
Cardinals win sixth straight
ST. LOUIS, May 4 (UPI) -- Garrett Stephenson pitched eight innings and Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer Saturday, leading St. Louis past Montreal, 3-1.
It was the Cardinals' sixth straight victory.
Stephenson (2-2) scattered eight hits, struck out five and walked three for his first victory since his season-opening start on April 3 against Milwaukee.
Kiko Calero worked around a hit and a walk in the ninth inning for his first major league save.
Pujols hit his sixth home run of the season in the third inning to help St. Louis win six games in a row for the first time since an eight-game winning streak last Sept. 3-11.
Claudio Vargas (0-1) took the loss in his second major league start. Vargas gave up three runs and six hits with three strikeouts and no walks in six innings.
Other National League results: Colorado 6, Chicago 4; San Francisco 9, Cincinnati 6; Houston 5, Florida 2; Milwaukee 3, New York 2.
Report: Duncan to be named MVP
SAN ANTONIO, May 4 (UPI) -- The San Antonio Express-News reported Saturday that Tim Duncan had won the balloting for the NBA's Most Valuable Player award.
That would make him the first back-to-back winner of the honor since Michael Jordan in 1991 and 1992.
The 7-foot Duncan averaged 23.3 points and recorded career highs with 12.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.9 blocks per game in leading the San Antonio Spurs to a league-best 60-22 record. He had 58 double-doubles and shot 51 percent from the field.
The league plans to make the official announcement Sunday.
Last year, a media panel of writers and broadcasters selected Duncan over New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd.
A repeat selection would put Duncan in select company. Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Moses Malone are the only players to win the MVP award in consecutive seasons.
Nemechek captures rain-shortened race
RICHMOND, Va., May 4 (UPI) -- Joe Nemechek survived a NASCAR-record 15 cautions Saturday night to win the rain-shortened Pontiac Excitement 400.
With seven laps remaining, the race was red-flagged for rain with Nemechek leading. He was followed by Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Robby Gordon as Chevrolet Monte Carlos swept the top four positions.
Ten minutes later, Nemechek was declared the winner, giving him his third career victory and first since November 2001 at Rockingham, N.C.
Kenseth remains in front in the Winston Cup standings, but his lead was trimmed to 20 points by Earnhardt, who recorded his sixth top-five finish in 11 races this season.
The circuit takes a break next week, returning on May 17 for NASCAR's All-Star event, The Winston at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte.
Nadeau in critical condition
RICHMOND, Va., May 4 (UPI) -- NASCAR Winston Cup veteran Jerry Nadeau remained in critical condition Saturday, one day after a crash at Richmond International Raceway.
Nadeau was suffering from head, lung and rib injuries.
Nadeau was injured during practice for the Pontiac Excitement 400 and was taken to the Medical College of Virginia. He was been moved to a private room, but remained in intensive care.
Nadeau was hurt when the back end of his Pontiac Grand Prix got loose and spun, hitting the wall with the driver's side of the vehicle between turns 1 and 2.
That was the area of the 3/4-mile speedway where water seeped and caused flooding Thursday, forcing a four-hour delay in qualifying for a Busch series race.
Nadeau, 32, had to be cut out of the car and needed breathing assistance before he was taken by helicopter to the hospital.
Nadeau's wife, Jada, was flown from South Carolina after attending her grandfather's funeral and arrived at the hospital shortly before midnight.
Nadeau is in his sixth full season on the Winston Cup circuit. His only victory in 177 career starts came in the final race of 2000 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Verplank keeps lead by three shots
NEW ORLEANS, May 4 (UPI) -- Scott Verplank shot a 5-under-par 67 Saturday to maintain a three-stroke lead after three rounds of the HP Classic.
A day after establishing the 36-hole tournament record, Verplank eclipsed the 54-hole mark at 21-under 195 -- a total that is just five shots off the 72-hole standard, established in 1988 when the Lakewood Country Club hosted the event.
A bogey at the par-4 16th hole sliced a shot off the lead for Verplank, who is seeking his fifth career PGA Tour win and first since the 2001 Canadian Open.
Venus Williams reaches final at J&S Cup
WARSAW, Poland, May 4 (UPI) -- Venus Williams, at far from her best, still advanced to her third final of the season Saturday at the J&S Cup.
The top-seeded American got past Denisa Chladkova of the Czech Republic, 6-3 7-6 (7-5), in 96 minutes and will face Amelie Mauresmo in Sunday's championship match.
Mauresmo, the second seed from France, posted a 7-5, 6-2 victory over No. 4 Jelena Dokic of Yugoslavia in the second semifinal.
With the match starting in warm sunshine, Williams lost her opening serve but immediately broke back. With Chladkova battling for every point, Williams managed to hang on and take the set.
Chladkova, who at 24 has never won a WTA tour title, did not get discouraged. She pushed Williams even harder.
With dark clouds overhead and a strong wind suddenly blowing, Chladkova broke Williams' serve to grab a 3-1 lead in the second set but allowed the American to climb into a tiebreaker, where her experience came to the fore.
World Cup could expand to 36 countries
ZURICH, Switzerland, May 4 (UPI) -- Soccer's world governing body announced Saturday it will seek to expand the World Cup field to 36 teams in 2006.
A final decision will be made June 28 at an executive committee meeting in Paris.
The tentative decision to add four teams was made during a seven-hour meeting in Zurich.
In principle, 36 teams is acceptable, but organizers and confederation presidents have to find an adequate calendar that will respond to the expanded field and the time frame in which it is possible to conduct a World Cup, FIFA president Joseph "Sepp" Blatter said.
FIFA did not discuss where the additional teams would come from, Blatter said. But he added that South America, which lost a half-place in the Cup to CONCACAF, the confederation that includes the United States, would get back what it lost.
South America feels it lost an automatic qualifying slot because the World Cup is currently held by Brazil. Beginning in 2006, World Cup holders no longer receive an automatic berth.
World Cup 2006 will be held in Germany, where organizers have indicated they would have no problem with an expanded field.