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The Sports Report: The Kentucky Derby post positions are announced

Kentucky Derby hopeful Omaha Beach is walked in his barn after a workout at Churchill Downs Tuesday,
Omaha Beach is walked in his barn after a workout.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Hello everyone. My name is Houston Mitchell, and I’m awaiting my interview to become the next Iron Man. In the meantime, here are some of the things going on in the sports world.

Kentucky Derby

Now that horses have stopped dying at Santa Anita, it’s safe for some people to admit they still like horse racing. Those dumb horses, dying and making it hard on the sport. How selfish could they have been?

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Kentucky Derby!

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The race is Saturday, and post positions for the race were drawn on Tuesday. The 4-1 favorite, Omaha Beach, drew the No. 12 post in the 20-horse field.

“It’s nice to be outside a little bit,” said Richard Mandella, Omaha Beach’s trainer. “You don’t have to commit too quickly. It gives [jockey Mike Smith] a chance to size the race up. Couldn’t be more happy.”

“I love it,” Smith said. “I didn’t want to be down inside. I think I’m in a great spot.”

Trainer Bob Baffert, who it feels like has won this race every year since about 1920, has the the second, third and fourth favorites in Game Winner (post 16, 5-1), Roadster (17, 6-1) and Improbable (5, 6-1).

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Baffert wasn’t worried about the fact no horse has won from post 17.

“Not that many horses run out of there,” Baffert said. “But I’m OK. We’ll figure out a plan for them.

“The 17 has been 0-for-40, but it’s like [Triple Crown winner] American Pharoah had the 18 and there was a scratch and he had the 17 for a day and then he went to the 16. At the end of the day, you have to have the horse. If your horse shows up, that’s more important. After watching Big Brown gallop from the 20 hole [and winning in 2008] it really doesn’t make a difference.”

Here are the starting positions with odds:

1. War of Will, 20-1

2. Tax, 20-1

3. By My Standards, 20-1

4. Gray Magician, 50-1

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5. Improbable, 6-1

6. Vekoma, 20-1

7. Maximum Security, 10-1

8. Tacitus, 10-1

9. Plus Que Parfait, 30-1

10. Cutting Humor, 30-1

11. Haikal, 30-1

12. Omaha Beach, 4-1

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13. Code of Honor, 15-1

14. Win Win Win, 15-1

15. Master Fencer, 50-1

16. Game Winner, 5-1

17. Roadster, 6-1

18. Long Range Toddy, 30-1

19. Spinoff, 30-1

20. Country Horse, 30-1.

A couple of things to keep in mind: We will have live coverage all day on Saturday at latimes.com/sports from John Cherwa, who will be at the race. And if you want even more in-depth coverage, make sure you subscribe to our horse racing newsletter by clicking here.

Also, check out this cool story: For the first time in 15 years, Richard Mandella, 68, has returned to the sport’s Holy Grail with no fancy dialogue, just an impish grin that belies a hidden sense of humor, and a great horse, Omaha Beach. Click here to read.

Angels

You know it’s a slow news week when the Angels make the top three in this newsletter three days in a row. But here we are. On Tuesday, Griffin Canning, the Angels’ top pitching prospect and the first draft pick under general manager Billy Eppler to make his debut, was dominant at times in his first start. The Angels beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3, thanks to Brian Goodwin’s tiebreaking eighth-inning home run, but Canning was the story.

“He seemed unflappable,” said manager Brad Ausmus, who watched Canning in spring training and last year in the minor leagues. “He didn’t seem intimidated. He didn’t seem out of place. He was very comfortable with the surroundings.”

In a cool side note, Tim Mead, the Angels’ vice president of communications, was selected as the new president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, replacing the retiring Jeff Idelson. Mead will become the man who makes the nationally televised announcement of the Hall of Fame class each January, and the man who makes the private phone calls welcoming each inductee in advance of the announcement.

“It’s not the business of baseball. It’s not the thing that all of us here have to go through every day,” Mead said of the Hall of Fame. “It’s purity. It’s the history of an institution. It’s the spot where everybody wants to go.

“For the past 40 years I have had the distinguished honor of working for one of the finest organizations in Major League Baseball. The Angels have meant everything to my family and me. My gratitude and respect to those I have worked with and for can never be totally conveyed.”

Special boxing announcement

Canelo Alvarez, the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association middleweight champion is squaring off against Daniel Jacobs, the International Boxing Federation champion on Saturday night from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas

But as a reader, we’d like to invite you to join us for some special pre-fight prep: A live recording of our podcast “Arrive Early, Leave Late” from Losers Bar at the MGM Grand Casino. We’ll focus on the big fight with an array of Times journalists, including boxing writer Lance Pugmire, columnists Dylan Hernandez, Arash Markazi and LZ Granderson and some extra special guests from the boxing world. We’ll also have a few other surprises after Friday’s weigh in. Please join us from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Losers. Look for more information on this soon.

Speaking of Pugmire, he took a look at Alvarez in a story you can read here. An excerpt:

“Three years ago, Canelo Alvarez was tasked with opening the $375-million T-Mobile Arena in his first Cinco de Mayo main event in Las Vegas.

“He followed that with consecutive bouts against long-reigning, power-punching middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.

“Now, as the leading draw for the new streaming service DAZN’s push to exceed 1-million subscribers by next month, Alvarez shoulders both business and ring pressure by meeting fellow champion Daniel Jacobs in perhaps boxing’s best division.

“I concentrate. I work hard. And things unfold and fall into place — like the contract, like the opponents, like everything that’s happened. It’s just me continuing to do my thing,” Alvarez explained Tuesday following his grand arrival at MGM Grand.

Jacobs fought Golovkin in 2017 and was defeated by a narrow decision at Madison Square Garden.

That bout, to many, first revealed vulnerability in Golovkin and Alvarez, who edged Golovkin by majority decision in September, says he rates Jacobs as a superior boxer.

“Technically, yes, he’s a much better fighter,” Alvarez said. “His abilities are much better … he has one of the most complicated styles in boxing.”

Jacobs said given the depth of the division that the competition hasn’t been this strong since Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney occupied it in the mid-1990s.

“It’s perfect timing for us because we all have so many options, and I’m at the pinnacle, and I have the key right now,” said Jacobs, a near 4-1 betting underdog. “Focus on this job, show everything I know and the sky’s the limit. So many opportunities can arise by winning this.”

NBA playoffs

Tuesday’s NBA scores

at Milwaukee 123, Boston 102 (Series tied, 1-1) (Read game story here)

at Golden State 115, Houston 109 (Warriors lead series, 2-0) (Read game story here)

Today’s NBA schedule

All times Pacific

Portland at Denver, 6 p.m., TNT (Nuggets lead series, 1-0)

NHL playoffs

Tuesday’s NHL scores (Read game stories here)

at Columbus 2, Boston 1 (Blue Jackets lead series, 2-1)

San Jose 4, at Colorado 2 (Sharks lead series, 2-1)

Today’s schedule

(All times Pacific)

New York Islanders at Carolina, 4 p.m., NBCSN (Hurricanes lead series, 2-0)

St. Louis at Dallas, 6:30 p.m., NBCSN (Blues lead series, 2-1)

Odds and ends

Paris Saint-Germain’s fashion sense extends well beyond the soccer pitch…. Estimated cost of 2028 Los Angeles Olympics jumps to $6.9 billion…. Surfer Sunny Garcia is hospitalized in intensive care, World Surf League announces…. Rams sign five more undrafted free agents, including two receivers…. ESPN will end publication of its print magazine in September…. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s impact negligible in return to Angel Stadium…. Justin Turner and David Freese homer in Dodgers’ rout of the Giants.

Today’s local major sports schedule

(All times Pacific)

Dodgers at San Francisco, 6:45 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Toronto at Angels, 7 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

Born on this date

1925: NFL player Chuck Bednarik

1930: NFL player Ollie Matson

1961: Jockey Steve Cauthen

1969: NHL player Bryan Marchment

1971: Golfer Stuart Appleby

1973: NFL player Curtis Martin

1975: NBA player Austin Croshere

Died on this date

1994: Race car driver Ayrton Senna, 34, in a crash during the San Marino Grand Prix.

And finally

The top 10 plays of Magic Johnson’s career. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email us here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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