BALTIMORE – Larry Jones knows something about running a filly against the boys in a Triple Crown race, and he’s not looking forward to the threat posed by Rachel Alexandra.
The trainer saddled Eight Belles to a gallant second-place finish in last year’s Kentucky Derby before she broke her front ankles past the finish line and had to be destroyed on the track.
Now Jones is preparing to send this year’s beaten Derby favorite Friesan Fire in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes against stellar filly Rachel Alexandra, who has won five consecutive races by a combined 43 1/2 lengths.
“Anytime the horse is as fast as her, you wish you didn’t have to run against them,” Jones said Tuesday. “I’ve chased her twice with fillies. If I’ve got any shot of beating her, it’s going to have to be with a boy. I ain’t got a filly that can try her.”
Armstrong loses time
SAN MARTINO DI CASTROZZA, Italy – Lance Armstrong looked weary, his face was drawn, and he was sweating profusely after losing 15 seconds in the first mountainous stage of the Giro d’Italia.
Yet the seven-time Tour de France champion was not upset. At 37, Armstrong is still regaining his form after 3 1/2 years of retirement and a broken collarbone in March.
“I’m happy with my performance today. This was my first big climb since retiring,” he said. “I had a good feeling and no collarbone pain at all.”
Italy’s Danilo Di Luca won the fourth stage in an uphill sprint Tuesday and Sweden’s Thomas Lovkvist of Team Columbia-High Road took the overall leader’s pink jersey from Alessandro Petacchi.
Lovkvist holds a two-second lead over Di Luca in the overall standings, while Armstrong dropped from fifth to sixth overall, 28 seconds behind Lovkvist.
Armstrong lost contact with the leaders in the final mile and declined to speak with reporters in the finish area. He was not happy when his handlers could not immediately give him a cold drink.
“Come on, guys,” said the Texan, who was also slowed by a gear problem on his bike.
Swine flu stops Japan
TOKYO – The Japanese women’s soccer team canceled a tour in the United States on Tuesday because of the swine flu outbreak.
The team was scheduled to play the U.S. team on May 20 in Frisco, Texas, and May 23 in Sandy, Utah. The team was to travel to Canada for a match in Toronto on May 25.
Japan’s health ministry confirmed the fourth case of swine flu on Sunday, a day after the country’s first three were reported.