|by Darrell Carter|
Ole' Hilltop will be rocking again this month, when the 127th running of The Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore take center stage nationally. Over the past couple of years, this reporter has informed the public of Pimlico's financial status. This year I will not beat a "dead horse" (no pun intended). The State of Maryland already gave Pimlico owners millions in charity. Delaware is still benefiting from slots and the Earth continues to rotate on its axis. so let's talk about this year's favorite horses.
Last year's Preakness winner, Point Given, was the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, only to be a major disappointment. This year's favorite three-year-old is Essence of Dubai. This horse leads all 3-year-olds in earnings, with over $1.5 million thus far. Proud Citizen, trained by legend D. Wayne Lukus, has earned $230,000 thus far. Proud Citizen's most notable moment came in April, when she won the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, in Lexington, Kentucky. Another favorite, Crimson Hero, is trained by the legendary Nick Zito. Although, Crimson Hero has earned only $73,000, her affiliation with Zito makes the horse a box office favorite. Making a splash are Harlan's Holiday and Private Emblem, having made $1.2 million and $300,000, respectively. Prediction: Budda to win by two furlongs, Proud Citizen to place, and Crimson Hero to show. Budda won the Wood Memorial at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY last month by six furlongs in 1:14.47.
The National Football League Annual Football Draft Selection
The Baltimore Ravens entered the annual draft with many holes to fill. When the draft was over, many holes remained unfilled. Two years removed from a Super Bowl Trophy, Ravens fans are wondering, "Who is this team?" This a team that lost their starting tight end, wide receiver, quarterback, fullback, three defensive linemen, reserve linebacker, punter, and two defensive backs. The list does not include free agent players who have not signed with other teams, or fringe players.
Safety Edward Reed of the University of Miami was selection #24 in the first round of the Ravens draft. Reed, a known hard hitter, was effective in man-to-man coverage. He also closes the gap when receivers seek separation, and has the speed to cover deep. He had 288 career tackles, 203 of them solo; 7 stops behind the line of scrimmage; and 21 interceptions for 389 return yards. In 2001, he had 9 interceptions for 206 yards and 3 TD's.
Defensive tackle Anthony Weaver of The University of Notre Dame was selected #52 in the second round of the draft. The 6'-3" 296 lb. fire-plug will man the middle of the Ravens' new 3-4 defense. Scouts say his thick neck, shoulders, and body frame is best suited for the nose tackle position. He uses his hands effectively to disengage when bull rushing, has the short burst and extra surge needed to level the quarterback, and has the lateral agility to step up to and slip past blocks. Career: 160 tackles (95 solo), 17 sacks for minus 71 yards, 42 stops for losses of 121 yards, caused six fumbles, deflected 10 passes, and had 3 interceptions.
The third pick was traded to Denver for additional picks in the 4th and 5th rounds. In the fourth round and 112th selection, the Ravens selected punter David Zastudil of Ohio State University. He will start the Ravens training camp as the number one punter. A very capable athlete, Zastudil stands 6'-3" and weighs 222 lbs. He is well portioned with a solid frame. His thick thighs, long legs and outstanding leg strength complement his superb hands. He led the Mid-American Conference in punting four straight years, and holds his school record with a 44.6 yard punting average. He has a 4.2 second hang time. Career: punted 207 times for 9,255 yards, 61 attempts for longer than 50 yards, 60 punts inside the 20-yards line, 27 kicks for fair catches, and 28 more resulting in touchbacks.
Also in the fourth-round, wide receiver Ron Johnson of Minnesota was selected with the 123rd selection. In round five, tight end Terry Jones of Alabama was picked, while in round six, wide-receiver Lamont Brighful of Eastern Washington was selected. Also in round six, Ravens managers selected wide-receiver Javin Hunter of Notre Dame, running back Chester Taylor of Toledo, and safety Chad Williams of Southern Mississippi. The last selection, in round seven, was quarterback Wes Pate of Stephen F. Austin University.