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POLE-VAULTER DIES AFTER BAD LANDING

Track

LA JOLLA, Calif. - A college pole-vaulter died after missing the landing pad at the University of California-San Diego's La Jolla campus.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office says Leon Roach, 19, struck his head on concrete during a practice session Thursday. An ambulance tended to the sophomore, and he was taken to a nearby hospital in an unresponsive state.

After several days of no improvements, staff declared him brain dead Saturday night.

A memorial service will be held this week in Huntington Beach, Calif., where Roach grew up.

Horses

U.S. deaths decrease only slightly in 2008

The rush to improve safety since Eight Belles was euthanized at last year's Kentucky Derby did little to curb the number of horses dying at U.S. tracks in 2008, the Associated Press reported. In 2008, 1,217 horses were put down, only 30 fewer than in 2007. "If it were that easy to change, we would have flipped that switch a long time ago," said Mary Scollay, Kentucky's equine medical director who is assembling a database on horse breakdowns. "We've learned injuries are very complex in their causes."

Pacific Classic:Richard's Kid, at 24-1, came from next-to-last and passed Einstein in the final strides to win the $1 million race in San Diego. It was his third race since Bob Baffert took over as trainer this summer.

Spinaway Stakes:Hot Dixie Chick won the $300,000 race for 2-year-old fillies at Saratoga by 1-3/4 lengths. She is owned by Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke, whose Rachel Alexandra won Saturday's Woodward.

Soccer

Ghana clinches berth for 2010 World Cup

Ghana became the first African nation to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, getting goals from Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien in a 2-0 home victory over Sudan. It is the eighth nation overall to qualify, including host South Africa, Brazil, Netherlands, Japan, Australia, North Korea and South Korea.

ET CETERA

Boxing:Brahim Asloum, 30, the first Frenchman to win Olympic and pro titles, retired. He cited a dispute with cable channel Canal Plus, the longtime promoter of his fights. Asloum won gold in 2000 and the WBA light flyweight title in December 2007.

wnba:Reserves Kara Braxton and Shavonte Zellous scored 17 and 16, respectively, to lift host Detroit past Chicago 84-75. ... Katie Douglas returned from an ankle injury to score 12 as host Indiana beat Washington 72-61.

Times wires

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