Sports in brief

Swimming

Romano aids Franklin's quest for 8 at Worlds

BARCELONA, Spain — St. Petersburg's Megan Romano chased down the Australians in the final strokes of the women's 400-meter freestyle relay Sunday to ensure teammate Missy Franklin of her first gold at the swimming world championships.

Franklin is on a quest to win an unprecedented eight gold medals at one worlds.

"Oh, my gosh, it was amazing!" said Franklin, who clutched hands with Natalie Coughlin as they cheered on Romano. "We knew Megan could do it."

Romano edged Alicia Coutts by 0.12 seconds to post a winning time of 3:32.43.

"That relay swim tonight was beyond fun, couldn't of asked for better girls to set me up," Romano wrote on Twitter.

Overall, it was good start for the Americans. Katie Ledecky, 16, won the women's 400 free in 3:59.82, just 0.67 seconds off the world record set in 2009 when the now-banned rubberized suits were allowed. Connor Jaeger took bronze in the men's 400 free, which was won by almost three body lengths by China's Olympic champion Sun Yang. In diving, American David Boudia was second on the 10-meter platform.

But the U.S. men's 400 free relay, which included former Gator Ryan Lochte, had the gold snatched away by the French, just like at the London Olympics. Jeremy Stravius chased down Jimmy Feigen to finish 0.24 seconds ahead in 3:11.18. "I didn't even see them until the last 5 meters," Feigen said.

Former Gator Melanie Costa-Schmid took silver in the 400 free, becoming the first woman born in Spain to win a medal at a long-course world championship.

Horses

Verrazano coasts to Haskell win

Trainer Todd Pletcher believes Verrazano is the best 3-year-old thoroughbred right now.

"He made a big statement," Pletcher said after Verrazano posted a 9¾-length victory in the $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. "He's as impressive as there is with the 3-year-olds right now."

The margin was the largest in Haskell history, topping Bluegrass Cat's seven-length win in 2006. The Tampa Bay Derby winner, Verrazano pulled away from Preakness winner Oxbow with 200 yards to go. Power Broker finished second, Micromanage third and Oxbow faded to fourth.

Verrazano has won six times in seven starts, the lone loss a 14th at the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher may enter Verrazano in the Aug. 24 Travers Stake, where Derby winner Orb, Belmont winner Palace Malice and Oxbow may run.

Tennis

Isner hits two heights in one win

Top-seeded John Isner, a Tampa resident, won the Atlanta Open, beating second-seeded Kevin Anderson 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-2) in the tallest final in ATP history.

The 6-foot-10 Isner won his seventh career title against the 6-foot-8 Anderson. Isner will move up from No. 22 and likely pass Sam Querry (20) as the top U.S. male player on tour.

Et cetera

Sailing: Emirates Team New Zealand beat Italy's Luna Rossa in their final round-robin race at the America's Cup challenger trials on San Francisco Bay. As the points leader, the Kiwis chose to advance straight to the Louis Vuitton Cup final rather than picking a semifinal foe. So Luna Rossa will face Sweden's Artemis Racing starting Aug. 6.

Times wires

Sports in brief 07/28/13 [Last modified: Sunday, July 28, 2013 10:52pm]

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