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Digest: Irish War Cry, El Areeb come up short in Triple Crown preps

Two Maryland-based horses considered prime contenders for success in Triple Crown races this year had disappointing Saturdays.

Graham Motion-trained Irish War Cry, sent off as the even-money favorite in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., finished seventh.

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"He broke very sharp like he did last time," jockey Joel Rosario said. "I was trying to stay away from the horse on the lead for a little bit. [Irish War Cry] looked very relaxed, but when I went to get [Three Rules], he came up empty."

The boys of South Florida summer racing put the racing world on notice Saturday that they will be tough to beat in this year's spring classics. Gunnevera,

Motion said he wanted to avoid making excuses but that his instincts are that he ran Irish War Cry back too quickly after his wire-to-wire victory last month in the Holy Bull Stakes.

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Gunnevera, who came out of the same race, won the Fountain of Youth by 53/4 lengths.

March is a time for dreamers in thoroughbred racing. The newest crop of 3-year-olds have shown just enough talent that their connections begin to think in earnest about clutching a garland of roses on the first Saturday in May.

Meanwhile, El Areeb, the 2-5 favorite who is trained at Laurel Park by Cal Lynch, finished third in the $300,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in New York after getting caught up in a speed duel. J Boys Echo won the race by 31/2 lengths.

Laurel Park: Apprentice jockey Carlos Carrasco began his professional riding career by winning with each of his first two mounts. They were the only mounts of the nine-race program for Carrasco, 18, the younger brother of 2013 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice Victor Carrasco, a three-time meet champion at Laurel and Pimlico Race Course. Carrasco's guided Jose Corrales-owned and trained Wilko's Last Dance to a front-running 15-1 upset of Laurel's third race, an $18,000 6-furlong sprint for 3-year-old maidens, and won the fourth race on Three M's Racing's 6-year-old gelding Speightshill in the $27,000 sprint for older maidens.

While the New England Patriots were slowly and inevitably killing off the Houston Texans’ season in another boring NFL playoff game Saturday night, boxer

Boxing: International Boxing Federation junior lightweight champion Gervonta Davis of Baltimore will make his first title defense in the United Kingdom in late May or June against undefeated British fighter Liam Walsh, ESPN reported.

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Major League Soccer: Bill Hamid made five saves, including one late against Dom Dwyer, to help host D.C. United tie Sporting Kansas City, 0-0, in the team's last MLS home opener at RFK Stadium. Dwyer spun a defender in the midfield and fired a shot that Hamid knocked away in the 78th minute. Dwyer returned from ankle surgery in November, and has 50 in goals in three seasons. In the first half, Hamid jumped to punch away Benny Feihaber's free kick over the crossbar in the 14th minute, and Dwyer's header shot from close range sailed over the crossbar in the ninth. Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia dove to his right to block Marcelo Sarvas's penalty kick in the 17th, and then got up to save a shot by Patrick Mullins (Maryland) off the rebound. Melia also made five saves. The United have played at RFK since their debut in 1996; D.C. will play at Audi Field next season.

NBA: The Washington Wizards assigned forward Chris McCullough to the Northern Arizona Suns of the NBA Development League.

Center Brionna Jones was her regular steady presence for fourth-ranked Maryland during the Big Ten tourname

Women's college basketball: Maryland seniors Brionna Jones (Aberdeen) and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough are two of 15 players named to the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award, which goes to the nation's best player. ... Maryland's Brenda Frese was named one of 10 semifinalists Friday for the Werner Ladder Naismith Women's College Coach of the Year.

Men's college basketball: No. 16 Salisbury (20-8) lost, 71-68, to Endicott (23-6) in Aston, Pa., in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament. Senior Wyatt Smith (John Carroll) led the Sea Gulls with 15 points. Kamahl Walker scored a game-high 32 for the Gulls.

College baseball: Senior outfielder Madison Nickens homered and had three RBIs to help Maryland (3-5) to a 9-2 win over No. 6 North Carolina State (5-5) at the USA Baseball-Irish Classic on Saturday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Junior right-hander Taylor Bloom of Crofton pitched seven innings of two-run ball to pick up the win. Sophomore right fielder Marty Costes (Archbishop Curley) homered, and sophomore second baseman Nick Dunn scored three runs. The win was Maryland's first over a top-10 opponent since its NCAA regional-clinching win against No. 1 UCLA on June 1, 2015. ... On Friday, Maryland rallied with two runs in the ninth inning for a 4-3 victory over Notre Dame (1-7) in the first game of the tournament. Terps junior right-hander Brian Shaffer (North Harford) tied a career-high with eight strikeouts and gave up just one earned run. Junior right-hander Ryan Hill earned the first win of his career with 11/3 innings of scoreless relief, and redshirt junior Ryan Selmer earned his first save of his season.

Women's college hockey: Fourth-seeded Stevenson (14-11-1) lost, 4-2, to top-seeded and 10th-ranked Endicott (24-3-1) in the Colonial Hockey Conference semifinals in Beverly, Mass.

Men's college swimming: Frostburg State junior Christian March (Westminster) was named Capital Athletic Conference Swimming Athlete of the Year.

Women's college swimming: Frostburg State junior Macey Nitchie (Bel Air) was named CAC Swimming Athlete of the Year.

Women's college bowling: UMES graduate student Thashaina Seraus was named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Bowler of the Week.

College softball: Washington College sophomore Maddie Bennett (Mount Hebron) was named Centennial Conference Player of the Week. McDaniel senior Jamie Weisser was Pitcher of the Week.

Men's college tennis: Johns Hopkins junior David Perez was named Centennial Player of the Week.

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