The beast has been slain thanks to matador Ancelotti
Carlo Ancelotti lifted the European Cup for the third time as a coach having won it twice as a player.
May 26th, 2014
09:55 AM ET

The beast has been slain thanks to matador Ancelotti

After the tumult of the trophy lift, as the Real Madrid players frolicked on the Stadium of Light's pitch, the eye was drawn towards Sergio Ramos.

Using a large silk flag as a matador's cloak, he drew loud blasts of "Ole" from the crowd with every swish of the cloth. There was no bull in sight but a beast had been slain; an imaginary one, given tremendous bulk by the club's fervent desire for "La Decima."

With a record-extending 10th European Cup secured, the removal of that burdensome weight helped propel the buoyant celebrations of everyone associated with the tournament's most successful ever team. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football
Does the French Open need an invincible Rafael Nadal?
He's still the "King of Clay," but Rafael Nadal's crown has slipped a little this year.
May 23rd, 2014
04:16 PM ET

Does the French Open need an invincible Rafael Nadal?

What’s wrong with Rafael Nadal?

It’s an audacious question to ask of someone who’s just made back-to-back finals, and who is, not to mention, the world's top-ranked men's tennis player.

And yet, many people are asking just that.

The reason is simple. Our expectations for Rafa on clay don’t merely begin and end with winning. We expect complete and utter domination. We expect perfection. FULL POST

May 20th, 2014
11:43 AM ET

Why 'Only One' Louis van Gaal is perfect for Manchester United

It’s his way. Or no way.

Simply put, Louis van Gaal doesn't suffer fools gladly - and as Manchester United’s star-studded squad is about to find out, no-one’s immune!

The Dutchman’s appointment as manager on Monday truly marks the end of the glorious Alex Ferguson era. Never again will we see that kind of longevity or continuity. Ferguson had ruled Britain's biggest club with a rod of iron from 1986 to 2013, winning everything in sight including 13 English Premier League titles and two European Champions League crowns. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football
‘A bonny horse who loves to race’
California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, crosses the finish line to win the 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
May 6th, 2014
05:58 PM ET

‘A bonny horse who loves to race’

All too often we see a favorite endlessly hyped up before a race only to disappoint on the big day.

Well, that certainly was not the case in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

California Chrome, the flashy chestnut colt, was the focus of intense pre-race attention in the week leading up to the Derby not only because of his impressive credentials but also because of his story.

Everybody loves an underdog and this bargain basement horse, in the purple and green “DAP” silks with a green bucking donkey motif on the back, belonged to two regular guys enjoying their first foray into the complex world of horse breeding.

Photo by Felipe Barral

Steve Coburn and Perry Martin each bought a share in a relatively inexpensive filly racehorse, Love The Chase, who won one race in six starts.

When the partnership decided to cut their losses and sell the sweet but slow filly, Coburn and Martin opted to buy out their partners for a value of $8,000 and send her to the breeding barn.

Selecting a stallion to “cover” your mare is often a labor intensive, almost mathematic process depending on what type of horse you are trying to produce.

For reasons best known to them, the pair settled on Lucky Pulpit for a fee of $2,000, himself an adequate racehorse who never fulfilled his maximum potential due to illness.

Eleven months later, out came the foal that would come to be named California Chrome - the name was pulled out of a hat of suggestions made by the owners and their families. Seabisquik was also in the mix.

Photo by Felipe Barral

When they sent the horse, now a three-year-old, to veteran trainer Art Sherman, the rookie owner-breeders told the ex-jockey that this would be his Kentucky Derby winner.

To cut a long story short, under the watchful care of his veteran trainer, this bonny horse who loves to race progressed so well that he wound up an unlikely favorite for the most famous race in the world.

And then he won it.

Going back to the colors worn by his Mexican jockey Victor Espinoza, the DAP stands for Dumb Ass Partnerships - so named by Coburn and Martin when those around them said only a "dumb ass" would buy California Chrome's mother Love The Chase.

While it's probably not the classiest name around, it does prove that for all the money and time spent on trying to breed the perfect racehorse, sometimes it's just down to luck.