BALTIMORE The buzz at Pimlico is all about Big Brown and what he can do for you today as the 1-2 favorite in the $1 million Preakness Stakes.
Can he position himself for a possible Triple Crown by adding the Preakness to the Kentucky Derby that he won two weeks ago by 4 3/4 lengths?
It might all come down to the start when 12 horses (Behindatthebar has scratched) break from the gate for this 1 3/16-mile race.
That's the opinion of his trainer, Rick Dutrow, and of others whose horses will try to beat the undefeated and seemingly invincible Big Brown.
"It's all about the break," said Dutrow at Pimlico on Friday. He cited the best example from recent history: War Emblem, a horse used to running only on the lead, losing the 2002 Belmont Stakes after breaking nearly last.
"When you come out of the gate and the horse stumbles pretty bad, right away horses are in front of them ... and you've got a lot of things that you have to deal with," Dutrow said.
"If it happens ... if he stumbles bad ... the break in my opinion is the only issue we have to worry about," Dutrow said.
Byrd is flying high in AT&T Classic
DULUTH, Ga. (AP) Jonathan Byrd took advantage of soft fairways and receptive greens at TPC Sugarloaf on Friday, shooting his second straight 6-under 66 to take a three-stroke lead in the AT&T Classic.
Byrd, seeking his fourth PGA Tour victory, shared the lead with Kenny Perry, Ryan Palmer and two others when the second round began.
The course was drenched with over an inch of rain Thursday and, though no precipitation fell in the second round, overcast conditions kept the sun from drying off the fairways and greens and making the course play faster.
Kenny Perry and Ryan Palmer shot 69s to drop into a tie for second. Parker McLachlin, another first-round leader, shot a 70 to drop into a three-way tie for fourth with Charles Howell III (69) and David Toms (69) at 8 under.
Defending champion Zach Johnson (70) and Sugarloaf resident Stewart Cink (71) were seven strokes back at 5 under.
Bean, Goodes share lead in Champions event
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) Andy Bean and Monday qualifier Mike Goodes shot 7-under 65s to share the first-round lead in the Champions Tour's Regions Charity Classic.
Leading money winner Bernhard Langer was two strokes back on the 7,503-yard Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge course. A two-time winner this year on the 50-and-over tour, Langer tied for 15th Sunday in The Players Championship on the PGA Tour.
Two-time defending champion Brad Bryant opened with a 72.
Canada reaches final in world hockey event
QUEBEC CITY (AP) Rick Nash scored the go-ahead goal to put Canada in the title game of the world hockey championships with a 5-4 win over Sweden on Friday night.
On Sunday, Canada will face Russia, which advanced to the final with a 4-0 shutout of Finland. It's the first time the two hockey powers have met for the world title.
Nash's goal broke a 3-all tie in the second period, and Mike Green added a needed goal on the power play with 7 seconds left in the period.
Dany Heatley, Ryan Getzlaf and Jamal Meyers also scored for Canada.
Williams sisters both out of Italian Open
ROME (AP) Serena Williams withdrew from her quarterfinal match at the Italian Open on Friday due to a back problem, and older sister Venus Williams was beaten by defending champion Jelena Jankovic.
Jankovic will next play second-seeded Maria Sharapova, who rallied past 2005 runner-up Patty Schnyder 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2 for her 300th career win. Sharapova will become No. 1 in the rankings Monday, courtesy of Justine Henin's retirement.
Serena Williams' back froze suddenly while she was warming up on a practice court for her match with French qualifier Alize Cornet.