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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown could be missing 150th Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan and other co-stars, quashing hopes for a rematch after the thrilling three-way photo finish in the milestone race.

Trainer Kenny McPeek and the horse’s ownership wouldn’t commit to whether the colt would race in the 149th Preakness on May 18 in Baltimore, which requires a quick two-week turnaround. Mystik Dan will travel to Saratoga, New York, before they decide whether to enter him in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.

“We’re not committed to the Preakness, not yet,” McPeek said Sunday morning outside his barn on Churchill Downs’ back side. “I ran him back once in two weeks, and it completely backfired on me. … So we’ll just watch him over the next week. It’ll be one of those [situations] where we’ll probably take it up to the last minute.

“We’ll let him tell us.”

Saratoga Race Course, the picturesque track in upstate New York, will host the Triple Crown’s final jewel for the next three years while Belmont Park is being reconstructed. The Belmont has also been shortened to 1¼ miles, matching the distance in the Derby that Mystik Dan won by a nose over Sierra Leone and Japan-bred Forever Young in the closest three-way finish since 1947.

The five-week gap follows a more normal race schedule for many thoroughbreds, and some trainers might opt to head to Saratoga to acclimate horses sooner.

Trainer Chad Brown said Sierra Leone will skip the Preakness and leave Monday to train at Saratoga and run the Belmont. Considering how much it took for Sierra Leone to navigate other horses and chase down Mystik Dan before falling a nose short at the wire, rest sounds necessary.

“He’s a real laid-back horse but, when we brought him out, was a little more tired than he normally is after his races,” Brown said. “I think giving him the five weeks to the Belmont is definitely the right thing to do.”

Louisville-born trainer Brad Cox is watching Catching Freedom (fourth) and Just A Touch (20th) before deciding their next steps. Forever Young and fellow Japan-bred T O Password (fifth) will head home Tuesday.

That could leave the Preakness without some Derby star power at first glance, though it won’t lack for plotlines with a number of well-rested horses expected to compete at Pimlico Race Course.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert could have two entrants as he seeks to follow up National Treasure’s victory there last spring. He trains Santa Anita Derby runner-up Imagination and Arkansas Derby winner Muth, who missed the Derby after failed legal attempts by owner Amr Zedan to get him in despite Baffert’s suspension by Churchill Downs through the end of 2024.

As McPeek and Mystik Dan’s owners ponder a decision, he and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. basked in a wash of congratulations for a Derby victory that put them in exclusive company.

Saturday’s win helped both claim rare weekend sweeps of the Derby and the Kentucky Oaks for fillies. McPeek is just the third trainer to do that and the first since Ben Jones (who did it twice) in 1952, while Hernandez is the eighth rider to achieve the feat and the first since Hall of Famer and fellow Louisiana native Calvin Borel in 2009.

Mystik Dan stood unfazed as a cluster of onlookers took photos and selfies while workers bathed him outside the barn. He was then draped with the winner’s blanket before being led back to his stall with a WWE-style title belt lying on an outer wall. Oaks-winning filly Thorpedo Anna also made a brief appearance and soaked in the attention.

Hernandez is preparing for his own life-changing spotlight after claiming the sport’s marquee race. He dined with his family after the Derby but didn’t sleep much, a routine that figures to go on for the next few days amid a flood of interview requests. At some point he hopes to get his mind around all that has happened, but he already has a response ready.

“When somebody asks what my profession is, I’m able to tell them I’m a professional jockey,” he said. “And then the first question they normally ask is, ‘Have you ever won the Kentucky Derby?’ I can say that now.”

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Tigers blow 5-run lead, rally with 3-run HR in 9th




Tigers blow 5-run lead, rally with 3-run HR in 9th

DETROIT — Matt Vierling homered twice, including a tiebreaking, three-run drive off Jordan Romano in the ninth inning that gave Detroit a wild 14-11 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday after the Tigers wasted a five-run lead and recovered from a two-run deficit.

Vierling had four hits and tied career highs with two homers and four RBIs.

“My brother and I in the back yard, we’d always be doing situations like that,” Vierling said. “It’s kind of cool when it actually happens.”

Carson Kelly hit a three-run homer and Spencer Torkelson hit a solo shot for Detroit, which led 5-0 after three innings, 8-3 after five and 9-5 after six. The Tigers set a season high for runs and tied their high with 17 hits.

Torkelson had three hits and scored three runs.

“He’s really easy to root for,” Torkelson said of Vierling. “To see him come through, we had all the faith in the world and confidence he’d get the job done there. That’s exactly what he did.”

Toronto’s Isiah Kiner-Falefa homered in the seventh off Tyler Holton, and the Blue Jays took an 11-9 lead with a five-run eighth when Bo Bichette hit a two-run single off Jason Foley and Daulton Varsho hit a three-run homer.

Toronto manager John Schneider drew some consolation by the way his team kept fighting back.

“It’s easy to kind of quit after that and the guys did the exact opposite,” he said. “Chipped away and came back with huge hits from Bo and Varsh.”

Mark Canha tied the score with a two-run single against Yimi Garcia in the bottom half, his third hit.

Vierling, who hit a solo homer in the fifth off Zach Pop, drove a full-count slider from Romano (1-2) over the left-field wall for his first big league walk-off hit. A two-time All-Star, Romano has allowed three homers this year, half his total last season.

“I was ready for that pitch that he threw me 3-2,” Vierling said. “I was kind of looking for it 2-2, as well, but it was low and I was able to check my swing enough. The next pitch was the same pitch, just a little more up.”

Mason Englert (1-0) pitched a hitless ninth for the Tigers (26-27), who won the last three games of a four-game series against the last-place Blue Jays (23-29).

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had his second four-hit game of the season for the Blue Jays.

Detroit starter Casey Mize gave up three runs and eight hits in 4⅓ innings. Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi allowed five runs and eight hits in three innings. Mize and Kikuchi are 0-3 each in their six starts.

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Braves’ Acuna leaves game with knee soreness




Braves' Acuna leaves game with knee soreness

PITTSBURGH — Ronald Acuna Jr. left the Atlanta Braves8-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning Sunday with left knee soreness after his knee appeared to buckle.

The reigning National League MVP led off the game with a double to right-center field off Martin Perez. With Marcell Ozuna at the plate, Acuna started toward third on a stolen base attempt and his left knee appeared to buckle. He remained down for several minutes while being treated, pointing at his left leg before walking off under his own power.

Acuna, a 26-year-old outfielder, is batting .250 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 49 games. The four-time All-Star hit a career-best .337 last season with 41 homers and 106 RBIs.

Adam Duvall shifted from left to right in the bottom half, and Jarred Kelenic entered the game in place of Acuna and played left.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Royals’ Massey again on IL with low back injury




Royals' Massey again on IL with low back injury

The Kansas City Royals placed second baseman Michael Massey on the 10-day injured list Sunday because of a low back ligament sprain.

In a corresponding move, the Royals recalled shortstop Nick Loftin from Triple-A Omaha.

Massey homered in the fifth inning of the Royals’ 8-1 victory over the host Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. He exited the game in the next inning and did not play Saturday.

He also missed the start of the season with a lower back strain.

“It’s more of the same, what he has been dealing with since the spring, just some tightness,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “We’re going to have to take his lead on it and manage it. He’s feeling better, moving around and exercising, but we’re going to have to manage it day to day.”

Massey, 26, is hitting .294 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in 29 games. He has a .306 on-base percentage, .529 slugging percentage and .835 OPS.

Loftin hit .276 (8-for-29) in 13 games with Kansas City this season. He is batting .308 (28-for-91) in 32 career games.

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