Sunday, January 21, 2018
Sports

Sports in brief

horses

exaggerator tops nyquist in haskell

OCEANPORT, N.J. — Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist wasn't on his game for the $1 million Haskell Invitational. Preakness winner Exaggerator was.

Charging into the lead over a sloppy track, Exaggerator pulled off another victory over Nyquist and staked his claim as the leading 3-year-old colt in the country.

"We're just so proud of him," said trainer Keith Desormeaux's assistant Julie Clark. "There was such anxiety as they came around the turn. To see him accelerate and pull away was awesome."

Ten weeks ago in the slop at the Preakness, Exaggerator handed Nyquist his first loss and ended any chance of a Triple Crown repeat. Now Nyquist has lost two in a row after winning his first eight races, and Exaggerator atoned for an 11th-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

"The race was great, perfect, but we were a little off (Sunday)," Nyquist's jockey, Mario Gutierrez, said.

On a rainy, muggy day at Monmouth Park, Exaggerator made his usual late run after starting way behind the rest of the six-horse field, so far back that jockey Kent Desormeaux figured he'd better get moving sooner than later.

"(Exaggerator) was effortlessly galloping and reeling them in," the Hall of Fame rider said. "He proved it down the lane. He just exploded."

Exaggerator won by 11/2 lengths for his sixth victory in 13 starts. American Freedom finished second, with Sunny Ridge third and Nyquist fourth.

The winning time for the 11/8 miles was 1:48.70.

Exaggerator could be headed next to the Travers at Saratoga on Aug, 27, with the goal of the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 5. The win earned Exaggerator an automatic berth to the Classic. Nyquist is headed back home to California to "regroup," trainer Doug O'Neill said.

tennis

Djokovic wins 7th title of year at Rogers Cup

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic won his fourth Rogers Cup title, beating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-5 after a short rain delay in Toronto.

"I had to realize my level," Djokovic said. "I was not feeling that comfortable at the start of the week. But I made progress and gained in confidence at the right time."

Djokovic also won the hardcourt event in 2007, 2011 and 2012. Ivan Lendl holds the tournament record with six titles.

Djokovic, who has seven tournament wins this year, has won his past nine matches against Nishikori and leads the series 10-2. In April in their previous match, Djokovic won the Key Biscayne final.

"It was a shame to lose the (Rogers Cup) final, but it was still a great week for me," said Nishikori, who was seeded third. "I'm going to the Olympics next week (to represent Japan), and I hope to carry this momentum with me."

Djokovic credited his serve for seeing him through.

"I'm glad I had that weapon (Sunday). Kei is one of the best returners on the circuit and a very fast guy. I had to serve well to win," Djokovic said.

He now heads to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to represent Serbia. The Games open Friday.

"It's going to be a great honor and pleasure to be part of such a renowned and recognized sporting event," he said. "The Olympics are really special. I will give my best to fight for a medal."

Halep wins women's title: The many red- and yellow-clad Romanian fans at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal got what they came for when Simona Halep beat American Madison Keys in the Rogers Cup final.

A roar went up and flags waved when Halep finished off the error-prone Keys 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 to claim the title on her second try, one year after heat stroke forced her to retire from the final.

"I like being here in Montreal at lot," said Halep, seeded fifth and set to jump to No. 3 in the world. "With all the Romanians, I felt like at home. Many people were coming every day. It was an amazing atmosphere down there."

Halep has three victories this year and 14 overall.

Halep outlasted the 10th-seeded Keys in a messy first set and dominated the second in a 1-hour, 16-minute hardcourt match in warm, sunny weather.

"I don't think I was serving as well," Keys said. "I think it was just a matter of close points here or there.

Keys will climb to ninth in the world, matching her career best. She is set to play in the Olympics.

Halep opted not to go to Games.

ET CETERA

college football: The son of LSU coach Les Miles said he will play at Nebraska beginning next year. Ben Miles, one of the top-rated fullbacks in the nation, announced his pledge on Twitter. Miles, a senior this year at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, La., picked Nebraska over offers from LSU, Michigan State and Boston College, among others.

Times wires

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