Maryland-bred star Ben's Cat will look to avoid losing his fourth race in a row for the first time ever when he takes the gate in the $100,000 Laurel Dash as part of the 11-race Turf Festival program Saturday at Laurel Park. Ben's Cat is a two-time winner of the Laurel Dash, contested over 6 furlongs on the Fort Marcy Turf Course, having finished first in 2011 and 2013. "It's right here on our home ground, it's on the turf, it's $100,000, it's a perfect spot basically since all we have to do is walk over to the paddock," Hall of Fame trainer King Leatherbury said. "This is the spot to run him, no doubt about that." Ben's Cat opened 2016 with back-to-back wins — an open allowance May 1 at Laurel and his fourth straight Jim McKay Turf Sprint May 20 at Pimlico Race Course — but has followed with three consecutive third-place finishes, all in stakes. Ben's Cat has lost three straight races three times in his career, and each time he came back to win the next. Jockey Trevor McCarthy will ride him from Post 5 in the 13-horse field.
More on the fall meet: The track will begin its 51-day fall meet with a nine-race opening-day program Friday that includes six races over its turf course. A total of 102 horses were entered, an average of 11.3 per race, as Laurel looks to build on the momentum of its summer meet, during which the handle rose 20 percent over 2015 and average and in-state handles increased as well. First-race post time is 1:10 p.m. Friday's feature event comes in Race 8, a $45,000 optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and older going 6 furlongs on the main track. The field of seven includes 124-pound co-highweights Cursive, from summer meet co-training champion Hamilton Smith, and Scip's Sonata, as well as 2015 Maryland Million Lassie winner Lexington Street. Fall-meet racing will be Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 31, except Christmas Day.
Women's pro soccer
Spirit thwarts anthem protest by Rapinoe
The Washington Spirit prevented Seattle Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe from kneeling during the national anthem Wednesday night by altering its pregame ceremonies. The National Women's Soccer League team moved up the anthem, playing it while the teams were off the field at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds. "We decided to play the anthem in our stadium ahead of schedule rather than subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent," the Spirit said in a statement. "To willingly allow anyone to hijack this tradition that means so much to millions of Americans and so many of our own fans for any cause would effectively be just as disrespectful as doing it ourselves." After the match, Rapinoe said she was saddened by the Spirit's move. "It was incredibly distasteful, four days before [the anniversary of] one of the worst tragedies in our country, to say I tried to hijack this event," The Washington Post quoted Rapinoe as saying. During the match a group of supporters chanted "Let Her Kneel!" On Sunday before the Reign's game in Chicago, Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem "in a little nod" to Colin Kaepernick — the San Francisco 49ers quarterback whose refusal to stand for the anthem to protest racial injustice and minority oppression came to public notice when he remained seated on the bench before a preseason game. After kneeling Sunday, Rapinoe said: "I think it's actually pretty disgusting the way [Kaepernick] was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn't. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country. ... Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties." Rapinoe, 31, helped the United States win the World Cup last year and played in the Rio Olympics. The Spirit won, 2-1, Wednesday night, clinching home field for their first 2016 playoff match.
Mystics set club scoring mark in 118-81 win over Sky
Tayler Hill scored 21 points, Leilani Mitchell added 20 and the duo combined for nine of host Washington's season-high 16 3-pointers in the Mystics' 118-81 WNBA victory over the Chicago Sky on Wednesday night. It was the most points scored by Washington in franchise history — topping a 109-106, three-overtime victory over the Connecticut Sun this season. The Mystics shot 60.8 percent from the field, including 16-for-28 from distance. Chicago forward Elena Delle Donne, the top scorer in the WNBA at 22.1 points per game, played just eight minutes and sat out the second half because of a thumb injury. Emma Meesseman Stefanie Dolson Washington (12-17) trails the Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm, which beat the New York Liberty on Wednesday, by a half-game for the final playoff spot. Fifth-place Chicago fell to 15-14.
Major League Lacrosse: The Chesapeake Bayhawks acquired midfielder Ryan Tucker from the Atlanta Blaze on Tuesday. Tucker is a Baltimore native who prepped at Gilman, then became an All-American at Virginia. Tucker began his Major League Lacrosse career with the Boston Cannons, playing for his father. When John Tucker stepped down as Boston coach and became general manager and coach of the Blaze, he selected his son with the third pick of the expansion draft. Chesapeake traded midfielder Greg Coholan to Atlanta to obtain Tucker. Coholan, also a Virginia alumnus, totaled two goals and four assists in four games with the Bayhawks last season. The Bayhawks and Blaze also exchanged college draft picks as part of the deal.
NFL: Two days after practicing while wearing a noncontact jersey, Washington Redskins running back Matt Jones took a step forward in his recovery from a partially separated shoulder and took part in full-contact practice. Washington hasn't determined whether Jones will play Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Jones has said he intends to play. Meanwhile, rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson practiced only in a limited capacity after practicing without limitation Monday.
—Mike Jones, The Washington Post
More NFL: The Indianapolis Colts signed former Ravens cornerback Rashaan Melvin.
NHL: Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin was named the captain for Team Russia at the World Cup of Hockey. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin and forward Pavel Datsyuk, who recently retired from the NHL and now plays in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, were selected as alternate captains. Ovechkin, who will turn 31 on Sept. 17, the day the World Cup begins, is also the Capitals' captain, a post he's held since 2010. He has 525 goals and 966 points in 839 NHL games with Washington and won three gold medals with Russia at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.
—Isabelle Khurshudyan, The Washington Post
College football: Navy co-captains Daniel Gonzales and Toneo Gulley will switch their jersey numbers to No.2 for the rest of the season in honor of senior quarterback Tago Smith, who is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee. ... The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association named Bowie State senior Justin Nestor (River Hill) Offensive Lineman of the Week, Amir Hall Quarterback of the Week and Rookie of the Week, senior wideout Nyme Manns (Patterson) Receiver of the Week and sophomore Maurice Williams (St.Frances) Special Teams Player of the Week. … The New Jersey Athletic Conference named Salisbury sophomore Sean Rowland Special Teams Player of the Week.
Men's college soccer: Brian Saramago scored in the fourth minute and Brennan Goldsmith in the 83rd as host Loyola Maryland (1-3) won, 2-0, against George Washington (1-1-2). ... The Big Ten named Maryland sophomore forward Gordon Wild Offensive Player of the Week. … The Centennial Conference named Washington College sophomore goalkeeper Josh Samuels Defensive Player of the Week.
Women's college soccer: Clare MacAdam had two goals, helping host Navy (2-4-1) to a 5-3 victory over Maryland (2-4-1) for the first time in 11 tries. ... The Capital Athletic Conference named Salisbury junior defender Rachel Anderson Defensive Player of the Week. ... The Centennial Conference named Washington College sophomore midfielder Arianna Sabatino Offensive Player of the Week.
College field hockey: The CAC named Salisbury senior forward Becca Rinaca (North Harford) Offensive Player of the Week.
Women's college volleyball: The Centennial Conference named Washington College sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn Marino Player of the Week.
Women's college lacrosse: Georgetown seniors Maddy Fisher (Mount Hebron) and Kate Snouffer (Bryn Mawr) were two of the team's four captains named for this season.
College baseball: Washington College named Cooper Belyea an assistant coach.