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Bob Baffert banned from entering Medina Spirit in Belmont Stakes

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Bob Baffert banned from entering Medina Spirit in Belmont Stakes

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) on Monday banned Medina Spirit trainer Bob Baffert from entering horses in races or stabling them at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course or Aqueduct Racetrack.

That means Medina Spirit, which won a now-contested Kentucky Derby and finished third in the Preakness Stakes, will not run in the Belmont Stakes on June 5. NYRA said its final determination for the length and terms of Babbert’s suspension depends on whether Churchill Downs receives a second test confirming an initial positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone for the horse on the day of the Derby.

That would also invalidate Medina Spirit’s first-place finish in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

MORE: Baffert invokes ‘cancel culture’ in Medina Spirit’s failed test

“In order to maintain a successful thoroughbred racing industry in New York, NYRA must protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public and racing participants,” NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said in a statement. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”

Medina Spirit was allowed to run the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course after passing three pre-race drug tests. Baffert, who did not attend the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, has five medication-involved violations over the past 13 months. NYRA said its decision also took into account other horses trained by Baffert that produced failed tests in thoroughbred races in Arkansas, California and Kentucky.

Craig Robertson, who represents Baffert, told the Associated Press that he will review NYRA’s decision and discuss the situation with his client before making any formal statement.

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Why did Rick Carlisle return to Pacers? Roster, familiarity — and the money helps, too

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Why did Rick Carlisle return to Pacers? Roster, familiarity — and the money helps, too

Rick Carlisle is the head coach of the Pacers … again.

The championship-winning coach who recently parted ways with the Dallas Mavericks has reportedly signed a four-year, $29 million pact to return to Indiana’s bench, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

Carlisle signing this quickly with a team was a mild surprise, signing with the Pacers even moreso. While the Pacers parted ways with head coach Nate Bjorkgren soon after the final whistle blew on Indiana’s season, no real reports suggested Carlisle’s candidacy before news of his hiring broke on Thursday.

Here’s what we know about the hiring:

Why did the Pacers hire Rick Carlisle?

While the money certainly helps — the deal keeps Carlisle in the top 10 highest paid coaches in the Association — familiarity helped play into the decision, as well. Carlisle has two prior tenures in Indiana; First, between 1997 and 2000, when he was an assistant coach under Larry Bird. The second stint was as the team’s head coach between 2003 and 2007.

During his tenure, Carlisle helped guide Indiana to a central-division crown in 2003, and in four total seasons, the Pacers made the playoffs three times and the Eastern Conference finals once (2003).

Carlisle figured to be the hottest coaching commodity on the market for any number of teams looking for a new head coach, but the Pacers acted “quietly and quickly” to get Carlisle in their building, per Adrian Wojnarowski, putting off several other interviews to bring him and ink him to a deal.

The landing spot was attractive to Carlisle, as well: Speaking with ESPN’s MacMahon, Carlisle liked the roster built by GM Kevin Pritchard and what they could be moving forward.

“It’s a team of skilled, unselfish guys that play hard,” Carlisle said to MacMahon. “It’s always possible that moves could be made before the season, but I think [GM Kevin Pritchard] and I are both very excited about getting the roster healthy and seeing what this team can be.”

Carlisle and the Mavericks agreed to part ways on June 17 after another early-playoff exit, losing in seven games to the Clippers. Carlisle spent 13 years patrolling the bench for Dallas, winning an NBA championship in 2011. In all, Dallas made it to the playoffs nine times under Carlisle, losing in the first round in seven of those trips.

Multiple reports indicated organizational turmoil within Dallas’ front office, though owner Mark Cuban vehemently denied the rumors. The Athletic detailed the dysfunction in June. 

 

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Lionel Messi gets surprise birthday wake-up call from Argentina teammates at Copa America

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Lionel Messi gets surprise birthday wake-up call from Argentina teammates at Copa America

Let’s be real: No one likes to be woken up on their birthday. Except for world soccer star Lionel Messi, who even posted the video to his 221 million Instagram followers.

His teammates did him the honors on his 34th, walking into his bedroom with a surprisingly on-tune birthday song and adidas bags full of gifts that garnered a few laughs. There was something that looked like a cologne bottle, a pack of cornmeal, some wine and a bottle of holy water, which must be an inside joke.  

“Starting off my birthday with the boys, and receiving a few gifts,” he wrote. “Thanks a lot for making this day special, although I can’t be with my family, who I miss so much in these moments.” 

When you’re the greatest soccer player on the planet, you probably don’t mind that the world sees what you look like when you get out of bed, or the fact that you sleep with giant player cutouts above your bed. Granted, it’s not his personal bedroom — he’s in camp with Argentina for the Copa America in Brazil, where they apparently require the players to sleep in Argentina gear. 

Messi’s hoping his stay in Brazil will be remembered for things other than his birthday wake-up call. He’s trying to win his first Copa America with Argentina (it would be the country’s first since 1993) and in the process, he’ll be setting a record for most all-time appearances in an Argentina shirt. 

It’s a big year for the 34-year-old. His contract with FC Barcelona also expires on June 30 and the world will be watching to see what decision he makes on his club future. Many expect him to stay with the only team he’s ever known as a pro, but it’s unclear how the financial troubles plaguing the organization could affect his thought process. If Barcelona can’t pay the salary he’s seeking, or the team can’t pay for a high-level supporting cast around him, he could decide it’s best for him and the club to move on. 

For now he has some cornmeal to cook up. 

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MLB world unites to slam hideous All-Star Game jerseys: ‘Worst baseball uniforms I’ve ever seen’

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MLB to move 2021 All-Star Game to Coors Field, reports say

A swing and a miss.

MLB All-Star Game uniforms oftentimes have some kind of tie-in to the town in which its played. Or, at least, it used to be that way.

This year, MLB and Nike paired up for new All-Star Game unis and they look like they were ripped from a late 1800s game of polo, with a middle-school student slapping some generic clipart font on the front with team abbreviation.

MORE: 7 players we want to see in the Home Run Derby

According to Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.Net, the uniforms will be worn during the All-Star Game, while players uniforms of their natural team will be worn during the Home Run Derby.

The hats, on the other hand, are fine, utilizing the purple (Purple Mountain’s Majesty, and all) on the star highlighting the team logo on the front.

This year’s All-Star Game shifts from Atlanta, Ga. to Colorado after MLB pulled out amid the introduction of Georgia’s controversial new voter laws, which many see as a clear attempt at voter supression.

MLB fans and analysts alike took to the Tweet machine on Thursday to crack jokes and voice their displeasure with the uniforms:

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