Horse racing

SILVER CHARM LOSES: Silver Charm returned to Churchill Downs, where he won the 1997 Kentucky Derby, and suffered his first loss of the year Saturday, finishing second to Awesome Again in the $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap in Louisville, Ky.


5,000-METER RECORD: Haile Gebr-se-las-sie of Ethiopia set his 14th world record Saturday night in Helsinki, Finland, clocking 12 minutes, 39.36 seconds for 5,000 meters after two sizzling final laps.

Daniel Komen of Kenya set the previous record of 12:39.74 last year.


DFS CLASSIC: At Birmingham, Eng-land, rain postponed both semifinal matches Saturday in the DFS Classic grass-court tournament, in which Steffi Graf is making her latest comeback bid.

After a five-hour delay, the weather broke and Graf and opponent Nathalie Tauziat tried briefly to warm up but decided after a few minutes that the court was too wet to play safely.

Organizers will try playing both the semifinals and finals on Sunday - Graf's 29th birthday.

Graf is to face Tauziat and Elena Likhovtseva of Russia plays Yayuk Basuki of Indonesia in the other.


VIKINGS SALE: Four months ago Glen Taylor stayed out of the bidding for the Minnesota Vikings because he was confident there was a would-be owner committed to keeping the team where it has been since 1961.

He doesn't sense that same commitment now that the Vikings are back on the market.

Taylor, the self-made billionaire from rural Minnesota who bought the NBA Timberwolves when a move seemed possible four years ago, now is considering making an offer to buy the state's NFL franchise.


A DEAD ISSUE? General manager Jim Bowden called it a "dead issue." Barry Larkin's delicately worded responses indicated it's far from over.

Larkin, the Cincinnati Reds captain, met with Bowden for two hours Friday before an 8-1 victory over Houston to discuss his request for a trade. He declined to say afterwards whether they've come to an understanding.

INJURY HAS BELINDA WORRIED: Stan Belinda is on the disabled list with inflammation in his spinal cord, a condition that has him worried it could be a serious problem.

The Cincinnati Reds reliever broke down Friday as he told reporters that there's a chance he could be in the earliest stages of multiple sclerosis, an incurable disease of the nervous system.

RODRIGUEZ SPRAINS ANKLE: Six-time Gold Glove catcher Ivan Rodriguez will be lost to the Texas Rangers for the next 3-5 because of a sprained left ankle.

Rodriguez, the major league's top hitter at .372, arrived at The Ballpark in Arlington on crutches prior to Saturday night's game against the Anaheim Angels.

JAYS SEND CRUZ TO MINORS: Jose Cruz Jr., struggling in his first full season with the Toronto Blue Jays, was sent down to the minors Saturday.

Cruz, 24, hit .248 with 26 homers and 68 RBIs in 104 games last season for Seattle and Toronto and finished second in the AL Rookie of the year voting.

But the outfielder played himself into a part-time role this year, hitting just .214 with three homers and 14 RBIs.

FORMER MAJOR LEAGUER DIES: "Big Jim" Hearn, who pitched for 13 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Giants, died Wednesday of Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 77.

Hearn, an Atlanta native, died at his winter home in Boca Grande, Fla. His body was cremated and a memorial Mass will be held Tuesday.

Auto racing

NHRA NATIONALS: At Kirkersville, Ohio, Joe Amato celebrated his 54th birthday on Saturday by pacing top fuel qualifying in the 34th NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals. Amato, of Exeter, Pa., went a quarter-mile in a track-record 4.572 seconds at 313.91 mph to edge 62-year-old Eddie Hill's career-best 4.595-second run.