Horse Racing

Digest: 26-1 longshot Connemara Coast wins, Ghost Hunter sets record at Laurel Park

Dumbarton Farm's Connemara Coast, making his first start in nearly seven months, led from start to finish to upset stakes winners Mr Palmer and Noteworthy Peach in Sunday's eighth race at Laurel Park. The longest shot in a field of seven at 26-1, Connemara Coast ($54.60) had not raced since he ended his 6-year-old season by finishing sixth behind Noteworthy Peach in the Jennings Handicap Dec. 26 at Laurel.

Connemara Coast was in front by 1 1/2-lengths after straightening for home and turned back a late final challenge from Old Upstart to sprint clear in the final 50 yards and win by 2-1/4 lengths in 1 minute, 36.92 seconds for a one-turn mile in the $47,000 optional claiming allowance event.


More Laurel Park: Jagger Inc.'s Ghost Hunter earned his first grass victory in record-setting fashion, catching pacesetter Souperfast in deep stretch and edging clear to win the seventh race. Ridden by Daniel Centeno for trainer Jamie Ness, Ghost Hunter ($18) ran 11/16-miles over firm ground in 1:39.00, breaking the All Along Turf Course record of 1:39.4 set by Warning Glance on June 18, 1995. Souperfast was second, 2 lengths in front of Syntax. Grade 1 winner Chiropractor, the 9-5 favorite, finished last of nine.

— Apprentice jockey Kevin Gomez, who missed his final two mounts after being thrown during Saturday's third race, returned to ride. Gomez, 22, won with one of his four mounts, Golden Mila ($11.40) in the fifth race. One of his scheduled mounts, American Progress, was scratched from Race 6 as a main track only entrant.


— Centeno and Yomar Ortiz each posted riding doubles Sunday. Centeno was first with Gursky ($4.20) in the second race and Ghost Hunter, while Ortiz won aboard Delightful Erin ($16.40) in the fourth and Available ($25.20) in the sixth following the disqualification of first-place finisher Thirteenth Avenue.

— There will be carryovers in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 ($1,228.57), 50-cent Late Pick 5 ($5,071.08) and $1 Super Hi-5 ($1,389.94) when live racing returns for Friday's nine-race twilight program. First race post time is 3:40 p.m.

— Jockey Sheldon Russell's comeback is getting closer, more than seven months after since he tore tearing his labrum and fractured fracturing his shoulder in two places in a training accident last fall. Agent Marty Leonard said the 28-year-old Russell, Maryland's leading rider in 2011 and a six-time meet champion at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, began exercising horses in late April primarily for trainers Tim Keefe and Cal Lynch.

Winner of Laurel's 2015 winter meet, Russell missed time last spring with broken ribs and punctured lungs from an April spill, returning in July. Following his November accident, he had surgery in December and began therapy in early January.

"We went to the doctor last month and they said give it a little more time. We're just giving it a little more time right now and waiting to see what happens," Leonard said. "According to the doctors, they're just going to take it month by month. He's not going to come back until he's 100 percent to make sure everything's right in the shoulder so there's no future problems down the road."

Leonard said Russell has another appointment scheduled for later this month, when he could get clearance to resume competitive riding. "He seems like he's ready to go," he said.

Et cetera

Mount Saint Joseph guard Morsell receives offer from Maryland


Since Maryland coach Mark Turgeon inherited Sean Mosley (St. Frances) and Nick Faust (City) when he succeeded Gary Williams in 2011, as well as Jon Graham (Calvert Hall) later after he transferred from Penn State, the Terps haven't had much of a Baltimore presence on their roster. That could change in the next couple of years. On Saturday, Mount Saint Joseph guard Darryl Morsell became the second local player to announce that he has received a scholarship offer from Maryland, joining rising junior point guard Emmanuel Quickley of John Carroll. Morsell, a 6-foot-4 guard, announced his offer on Twitter. Rising junior forward Jalen Smith, a teammate of Morsell with the Gaels and one of the top-ranked players nationally in the Class of 2018 (No. 18 by, received an offer from the Terps several months ago. Morsell and Smith led Mount Saint Joseph to the BCL championship game last season. "I want to go to a school where I know I'm comfortable, regardless if it's close to my actual home or if it's far," Morsell told the website City of Basketball Love in Philadelphia, where he was playing for Team Melo in an Amateur Athletic Union tournament. "It just has to feel like home. I want to have a good relationship with the coaching staff and have a good chance of getting good minutes as a freshman." A first-team all-Metro selection as a junior, Morsell has offers from mid-majors, as well as one from Southern California.

Don Markus

WNBA: Candace Parker hit four 3-pointers and finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to help the Los Angeles Sparks (18-1) beat the Washington Mystics, 93-82. Los Angeles has won seven straight and needs two wins to tie the 1998 Houston Comets for the best start in WNBA history. Emma Meesseman had 24 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals and Kahleah Copper added a career-high 13 points for the Mystics (9-11), who have lost three straight.

Angel McCoughtry (St. Frances) tied her career high with four 3-pointers and finished with 26 points to help the Atlanta Dream (11-9) hold off the Connecticut Sun (5-14), 67-63.

National Women's Soccer League: Estefania Banini scored in the 20th minute and substitute Katie Stengel converted a header in the 74th off a corner kick from Christine Nairn (Archbishop Spalding) Saturday night to lift the host Washington Spirit (7-2-2) to a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Red Stars (5-4-3).

— A match between the Western New York Flash and Seattle Reign was played Saturday on an unusually narrow field, drawing criticism from some players on the U.S. national team. With the Flash's regular field hosting a music festival, the match was moved to Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y., the home of a minor league baseball team. The Flash said the field measured 100 yards by 58 yards, which meets International Football Association Board minimum standards. But NWSL standards call for a width of 70 yards. National team midfielder Carli Lloyd called the field "shocking and embarrassing" on Twitter. Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe also weighed in, calling it unacceptable. NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said in a statement that the league signed off on the move, but acknowledged it was the wrong decision.