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Deal to keep Preakness in Baltimore is approved

The Maryland Racing Commission approved an agreement Wednesday that will keep the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, in Baltimore.

The commission voted to support an agreement reached by horse racing representatives and Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration earlier in the day in Annapolis. It calls for 146 days of live racing at the state’s big tracks, Pimlico and Laurel Park.

The deal would redirect $3.5 million to $4 million in state slot machine revenue, using money now set aside for capital improvements at the tracks to defray operating costs. That part of the deal would need approval by lawmakers in budget legislation to repay a loan from the Maryland Economic Development Corp. Horsemen also would contribute $1.7 million.

Louis Ulman, the commission chairman, said the agreement brokered Wednesday cut out contingencies that could have led to a shortened racing calendar next year.

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“It guarantees 146 days of racing and preserves 10,000 jobs in the state of Maryland,” he said after the vote.

Racing could resume Jan. 1.

The 2011 Preakness is scheduled for May 21 at Pimlico. The race generated $79.2 million in wagering this year and has an estimated economic impact of between $40 million and $60 million for Maryland.

TENNIS

American Odesnik’s suspension is reduced

Wayne Odesnik can return to competition next week after the International Tennis Federation suspended the remaining 12 months of the American’s two-year ban for importing human growth hormone into Australia. The ITF said the ban was cut in half because Odesnik cooperated with its antidoping program, but it did not give specifics.

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Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-1, at Madrid, tying a two-match exhibition series for charity between the world’s top-ranked players. Federer beat Nadal, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, on Tuesday in the opening match at Zurich, Switzerland.

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The Austrian Tennis Federation said Austria will play France on a clay court in an aircraft hangar in the first round of the 2011 Davis Cup. A hangar at Austria’s main airport, near Vienna, will be converted to a 6,000-seat stadium for the March 4-6 match.

ETC.

Crawford buys lunch for Rays employees

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Carl Crawford left Tampa Bay for the Boston Red Sox, but he has not forgotten a group of people who helped make his nine seasons with the Rays a success. The four-time All-Star, who agreed to a $142-million, seven-year deal with the Red Sox this month, picked up the tab for lunch at Tropicana Field on Wednesday. About 150 Rays employees ate a barbecue meal that Crawford arranged to have delivered to the home of the American League East champions. Crawford did not attend the lunch.

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Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk is expected to be out for at least four weeks because of a broken bone in his right wrist. Datsyuk left Detroit’s 5-4 overtime win against Vancouver in the first period Wednesday after tripping and landing on his right hand.

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Joseph Robb, a Toronto Maple Leafs fan who threw waffles onto the ice at the Air Canada Centre, was charged with criminal mischief and barred from the arena for his protest of the team’s poor performance this season. Bob Hunter, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment vice president, said Robb’s actions Monday night were inappropriate.

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The Philadelphia Union acquired 15-year-old midfielder Zach Pfeffer, the fourth-youngest player to sign a Major League Soccer contract. Pfeffer turns 16 on Jan. 6. The only players younger than him to sign with MLS: 14-year-old Freddy Adu with D.C. United in 2004; 15-year-old Fuad Ibrahim with FC Dallas in 2007; and 15-year-old Diego Fagundez with New England last month.


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