National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

How and where to watch the 2014 Belmont Stakes on NBC

NBC Sports Group Presents 16 Hours of Belmont Stakes Programming; Coverage from Belmont Park Begins Friday, June 6, at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN

TODAY, CNBC, MSNBC and The Weather Channel Live On-Site Friday; Access Hollywood and E! News to Provide Coverage

Special Documentary California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion Debuts Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

NBC Sports Live Extra to Live Stream Belmont Stakes on NBC with Exclusive Camera Angles and Analysis

Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome runs for history, aiming to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, as NBC Sports Group presents 16 hours of programming surrounding the 146th Belmont Stakes – more than double the number of hours initially scheduled.

Coverage from Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., begins Friday, June 6, at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, and culminates with the running of the 146th Belmont Stakes Saturday, June 7, at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Highlights of NBC Sports Groups’ Belmont coverage include:

  • Live coverage of every Saturday race in NBC/NBCSN telecast windows - including the first two events of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win & You’re In,” the Metropolitan Handicap and the Ogden Phipps Stakes, as well as the Manhattan Handicap
  • California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion, a special 30-minute documentary narrated by Bob Costas
  • Three hours of Belmont Classics highlighting past Belmont Stakes winners
  • A feature on California Chrome’s journey to the Triple Crown
  • Josh Elliott takes a look at Triple Crown spoilers of years past, including three consecutive Triple Crown upsets: 2002 winner Sarava (beat Triple Crown hopeful War Emblem), 2003 winner Empire Maker ridden by NBC analyst and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey (topped Triple Crown contender Funny Cide), and 2004 winner Birdstone (beat Triple Crown hopeful Smarty Jones)
  • A feature on the unlikely team of co-owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin coming together with trainer Art Sherman and jockey Victor Espinoza to take their horse to the brink of the Triple Crown
  • Bob Costas’ essay on the elusive Triple Crown

NBCUNIVERSAL SURROUNDS BELMONT WEEK: TODAY, CNBC and The Weather Channel will provide live reports on-site at Belmont Park Friday, MSNBC will air live updates Friday and Saturday, and SportsDash with Yahoo! Sports will be on-site Wednesday through Friday. Correspondents and hosts on-site include Dylan Dreyer reporting live for TODAY, Stephanie Abrams for The Weather Channel’s Wake Up with AlSam Champion for The Weather Channel’s AMHQ with Sam Champion, CNBC’s Morgan Brennan, and SportsDash with Yahoo! Sports and NBC Sports’ Carolyn Manno. NBC Sports Regional Networks will provide interviews and other Belmont-related content featuring NBC Sports Group’s on-air team throughout the week. On Friday, TODAY’s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb toast to the Belmont Stakes with Belmont Jewel cocktails instead of their signature glasses of wine, The Dan Patrick Show features an interview with Belmont Stakes host Bob CostasE! News takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Belmont with Josh Elliott, and Access Hollywood provides a special Belmont feature. In addition, NBC Sports Radio will feature interviews with NBC Sports Group’s commentators during Belmont week.

COMMENTATORS: NBC Sports Group coverage of the Belmont Stakes features Bob Costas, a 26-time Emmy Award-winner, and veteran NBC Sports commentator Tom Hammond; analysts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey; analysts/handicappers Mike Battaglia and Bob Neumeier; NBCSN host/NBC reporter Laffit Pincay, III; reporters Kenny RiceDonna Brothers and Jay Privman, and race caller Larry Collmus. In addition, Josh Elliott and Carolyn Manno will provide a mix of features and interviews at Belmont Park.

NBC Sports Group’s programming around the Belmont Stakes begins Wednesday, June 4 at 6:30 p.m. ET with California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion and continues throughout the week.

Following is a full schedule of NBC Sports Group’s Belmont Stakes programming:

THE BELMONT STAKES

Date Time Event Network Wed., June 4 6:30 p.m. California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion NBCSN Wed., June 4 10:30 p.m. California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion (Encore) NBCSN Thurs., June 5 5:30 p.m. Belmont Classics (2002 Winner Sarava, 2003 Winner Empire Maker, 2004 Winner Birdstone) NBCSN, Live Extra Thurs., June 5 6:30 p.m. Belmont Classics (2011 Winner Ruler on Ice, 2012 Winner Union Rags, 2013 Winner Palace Malice) NBCSN, Live Extra Thurs., June 5 7:30 p.m. California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion  NBCSN Fri., June 6 3:30 p.m. California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion  NBCSN Fri., June 6 4 p.m. Belmont Classics (2002 Winner Sarava, 2003 Winner Empire Maker, 2004 Winner Birdstone) NBCSN Fri., June 6 5 p.m. Belmont Stakes Access NBCSN, Live Extra Fri., June 6 8 p.m. California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion  NBCSN Fri., June 6 8:30 p.m. 140th Kentucky Derby NBCSN Fri., June 6 9:30 p.m. 139th Preakness Stakes NBCSN Fri., June 6 10:30 p.m. Belmont Stakes Access (Encore) NBCSN Fri., June 6 12 a.m. California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion  NBCSN Sat., June 7 2:30 p.m. Belmont Prep NBCSN, Live Extra Sat., June 7 4:30 p.m. The 146th Belmont Stakes NBC, Live Extra Sat., June 7 7:15 p.m. Stanley Cup Final - Game 2: N.Y. Rangers at Los Angeles NBC, Live Extra Sat., June 7 7:30 p.m. Belmont Post-Race Show NBCSN, Live Extra

 

NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA BELMONT STAKES COVERAGE

NBC Sports Live Extra — the NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices and tablets — will stream NBC and NBCSN’s Belmont Stakes coverage. The vast majority of the content will be streamed live via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play and on Windows 8 and Windows mobile devices.

Belmont Stakes coverage airing on NBCSN and NBC, including the running of the 146th Belmont Stakes, will be streamed to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra.

NBC Sports Live Extra’s Belmont Stakes coverage includes:

  • An online-only isolation camera on Triple Crown contender California Chrome during the race
  • Exclusive analysis by NBC Sports commentators in the days leading up to the race plus post-race, online commentary by NBC commentators
  • Replays and highlights from the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes

Belmont Stakes coverage will also air on the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, and telco services, via “TV Everywhere,” which is available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of participating MVPDs

BELMONT STAKES ALL-ACCESS

NBC Sports Group will implement its All-Access social media strategy for Belmont week, where horse racing fans can access content from the Belmont at a “social center” housed on NBCSports.com/Belmont. Fans can access and sort social media content from Instagram, Twitter and Vine through various streams including horse racing experts, horses (including the horses themselves, jockeys and trainers), a photos-only section and Vine videos. Belmont All-Access aggregates what’s trending around the race and what’s hot in the social world. In addition, fans can plug in their first and last names and will be given their ‘Horse Name’ to be shared on Twitter.

Twitter: Viewers and Tweeters alike will be encouraged to join the conversation by using the hashtag #TripleCrown. Reminders will appear on screen throughout all of NBC’s Belmont coverage.

  • On-air integration of live tweets from celebrities, horse racing experts and @NBCSN will be featured on screen throughout the broadcasts to keep viewers up to date with what’s happening on Twitter;

Facebook: Fans will have the chance to join in on the Belmont broadcast:

  • Everyone at home can pick their winner with the “Choose the Winning Horse” Facebook poll on www.facebook.com/NBCSports. The nation’s votes will be tallied and shown on-air during the Belmont broadcast.

For Listings and the NBCSN Channel Finder, visit http://www.nbcsports.com/tv-listings.

Sharapova moves to French Open semifinals

PARIS-- Maria Sharapova advanced to the semifinals of the French Open for the fourth straight year, beating Garbine Muguruza of Spain 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Russian made a slow start on Court Philippe Chatrier, falling behind 4-0 before finally winning a game. She then started to land her shots, and her serves, with more consistency and won nine of the last 10 games.

Muguruza, who was playing in a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time in her career, eliminated defending champion Serena Williams in the second round.

Sharapova lost in the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2011, then won the title a year later to complete a career Grand Slam. She lost in last year's final to Williams.v

10 things to watch in Stanley Cup finals

The Stanley Cup finals will be a coast-to-coast matchup featuring teams within the nation's largest TV markets: New York and Los Angeles.

It looks like a win-win deal for the NHL.

The Rangers will draw a lot of viewers tuning in to see if they can win a championship for the first time in two decades. The Kings, meanwhile, have a shot to win it all for the second time in three seasons in what would be an impressive feat because of the league's salary cap.

Here are 10 things to watch when the puck drops Wednesday night in Los Angeles:

MOTIVATED MARIAN: The Rangers traded Marian Gaborik 14 months ago to Columbus and now, they've got to face him as he's peaking. Gaborik has an NHL-high 12 goals this postseason and he ranks fourth with 19 points. He had the tying goal midway through the third period of Game 7 at Chicago, where the Kings won in overtime.

THANKS CBJ PART II: Gaborik is not the only former Blue Jackets player in the series. Columbus traded Jeff Carter to the Kings two years ago. The Blue Jackets sent Rick Nash to New York in the summer of 2012. And they dealt Derick Brassard, John Moore and Derek Dorsett to the Rangers last year.

QUICK TURNAROUND: Even though the Rangers have to hit the road to begin the series, they should be the fresher team. New York eliminated Montreal last Thursday, giving it almost a full week off before Game 1. The Kings, meanwhile, played late Sunday night in Chicago for their third Game 7 this postseason, traveled home and may not have much time to rest before the puck drops.

CALL IT A COMEBACK: The Kings might be the toughest team to knock out in sports. They're the only NHL team to win three Game 7s on the road in one postseason; the second to be 7-0 when facing elimination in one postseason; the fourth to rally from a 3-0 deficit in a seven-game series; and they didn't have the lead against Chicago in their latest decisive game until winning in overtime.

LATE LEAD USUALLY SAFE: The Rangers are 10-0 in the postseason when leading after two periods.

LUCKY NUMBER 7S: The Kings trio of Gaborik, Mike Richards and Justin Williams is 7-0 in Game 7s and goalie Jonathan Quick is 4-0 in decisive games. Williams has seven goals and seven assists in Game 7s, passing Doug Gilmour's NHL record for points and tying Glen Anderson for the most goals in league history in Game 7s. Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter has surged past Scotty Bowman and Pat Burns for the most Game 7 victories - seven, naturally - in his career. If Sutter steers Los Angeles into another Game 7, it will be his 11th behind a bench to break a record shared by Mike Keenan and Claude Julien.

UP THE MIDDLE: The Kings appear to have a clear advantage at center. They've won 53 percent of faceoffs in the playoffs, trailing only Boston statistically, while the Rangers rank 12th out of the 16 playoff teams. Los Angeles has a pair of great centers, Anze Kopitar, and Carter, and two solid ones, Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards. The Rangers, meanwhile, don't appear to match up quite as well at the pivotal position with Derek Stepan, Brad Richards, Derick Brassard and Dominic Moore.

TWO-WAY BLUE LINERS: Los Angeles and New York each have a playmaking defenseman. Drew Doughty has four goals, 12 assists and as many points (16) as he had in the 2012 playoffs when he helped the Kings hoist the Cup. Ryan McDonagh leads the Rangers with 10 assists and he's tied for the team lead with 13 points.

IN THE NET: Quick and Henrik Lundqvist are not among the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, but Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs in 2012 when Los Angeles won its first Stanley Cup and Lundqvist was voted the league's best goaltender that same year. Quick is giving up 2.86 goals a game this postseason and that's at least one more goal than he gave up on average in the previous two postseasons. Lundqvist is allowing just two goals a game and he blanked Montreal in Game 6 for his ninth career shutout in the playoffs.

LAST, NOT LEAST: Both teams roll four lines of forwards and when their final trio is on the ice it is not necessarily a break for the other team. Sutter does not label his lines, but Richards appears to his fourth-line center and Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford are usually on his wings. Richards ranked fourth on the team in points during the regular season and has chipped in with eight points in the playoffs. Moore centers New York's fourth line with Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett. Moore scored the only goal in Game 6 to eliminate the Canadiens and has three goals in the playoffs after scoring just six times in the regular season.

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AP Sports Writers Greg Beacham and Ira Podell contributed to this report.

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage

Police: Bills' Dareus involved in traffic accident

HAMBURG, N.Y. (AP) Police in upstate New York say Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Marcell Dareus was involved in a traffic accident last week.

Hamburg Police Lt. Bob Krone said the accident happened Friday afternoon and is still under investigation. He didn't provide any other details. The accident occurred after the Bills' final practice of a three-day minicamp.

Dareus is already facing charges in Alabama where he was arrested last month for possession of synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He called it a youthful mistake.

His agent, Todd France, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Dareus was selected third overall in the 2011 draft and is in his fourth season with the Bills. The 24-year-old played for Alabama.

The Buffalo News first reported the accident on its website Monday evening.

Seager has 4 extra-base hits as Mariners beat Yanks

NEW YORK (AP) Kyle Seager homered, tripled twice and doubled, leading Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners past the New York Yankees 10-2 Monday night.

Hernandez (8-1) won his fifth straight start to match a career high. The Mariners broke open a game of odd bounces with a four-run seventh inning, and Seager hit a three-run homer in the ninth.

Robinson Cano was again relentlessly booed by Yankees fans, this time in a makeup of a game washed out April 30. In the lineup after sitting four straight with a bruised left hand, he went 1 for 3 with two walks. The former New York star drew a mocking cheer when he was caught too far off first by David Phelps (1-3).

Seattle, which won games at Yankee Stadium on April 29 and May 1, took all three games in New York for the first time since sweeping three in 2002.

Police: Stiviano reports attack outside NY hotel

NEW YORK (AP) The woman Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was talking to when he made racist remarks says she was assaulted by two men outside a New York City hotel.

Police say V. Stiviano spoke to detectives on Monday and told them the assault happened outside the Gansevoort Hotel in Manhattan's Meatpacking District on Sunday night.

Police say Stiviano said there was an exchange of words and she was punched in the side of the face. Police say they're investigating the possibility the unidentified men used racial slurs during the attack. Stiviano is of black and Mexican descent.

Messages seeking comment from Stiviano's lawyer haven't been returned.

Stiviano's audio recording of the Clippers owner led to his being banned from the NBA. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed to buy the Clippers for $2 billion.

Pele's son sentenced to 33 years in prison

SAO PAULO (AP) A Brazilian judge sentenced the son of soccer legend Pele to 33 years in prison after finding him guilty of laundering money for a drug gang.

Judge Suzana Pereira said Monday that Edson Cholbi do Nascimento must surrender his passport to the court this week. She said the 43-year-old can remain free as he appeals, which can take years in Brazil.

"The process is still open. He can still appeal and have another court review the case," Pereira said.

Pereira said she couldn't reveal many details about last week's ruling because both parties agreed to handle the case privately. But she said she found enough proof to convict Do Nascimento.

The defendant's lawyer could not be reached for comment. Do Nascimento previously denied the charges, although he said he had used drugs out of curiosity after he quit professional soccer. He spent six months in a maximum-security prison in 2005 after being arrested with 50 others in a sweep aimed at a gang in the port city of Santos. Prosecutors said he was associated with the criminal group.

Pele is considered the best soccer player ever and in Brazil he is hailed as a national hero. He is currently in the spotlight as the country makes final preparations to host the World Cup in 10 days.

His personal adviser, Jose Fornos Rodrigues, said the sports star was traveling in China and had no comment on the case.

Known as Edinho, Pele's son played as a goalkeeper and is now a coach for the Santos professional soccer team, where his father rose to fame in the 1950s. The club said it would not comment, calling the case a personal matter for Edinho.

It wasn't his first run-in with the law. He was charged in early 1990s with taking part in a high-speed race where the other car hit and killed a motorcyclist. He was sentenced for manslaughter years later and then acquitted in 2005.

Trainer, co-owner reunite with California Chrome

NEW YORK (AP) The trainer and co-owner of California Chrome have reunited with their horse at Belmont Park days before he attempts to win racing's first Triple Crown in 36 years.

Trainer Art Sherman and co-owners Steve and Carolyn Coburn arrived at the track on Monday to see the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. Sherman had not seen the chestnut colt since his Preakness victory on May 17. He returned to his Southern California base after that race, leaving California Chrome in the care of his son and assistant Alan Sherman.

Sherman says he knows the colt is all right because he tried to bite the trainer, thinking Sherman had his favorite cookies in his hand. He didn't, but a groom produced the treats for California Chrome.

Dan Marino files concussion lawsuit against NFL

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino is among the latest group of football players to file a concussion-related lawsuit against the National Football League.

The 52-year-old former Miami Dolphins quarterback is one of 15 former players who filed a lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia last week.

Marino and the other 14 plaintiffs join more than 4,800 others who have alleged the NFL misled players about the long-term dangers of concussions. The NFL has denied those claims.

The lawsuit doesn't specify any medical problems suffered by the plaintiffs including Marino, who retired in 1999. It seeks unspecified damages and medical monitoring.

The NFL and the original group of players agreed on a $765 million settlement last August. But the settlement was rejected by a federal judge in January.

Astros prospect Singleton to make debut Tuesday

HOUSTON (AP) Highly touted Houston Astros prospect Jon Singleton has agreed to a five-year contract and will make his major league debut on Tuesday.

The Astros announced the deal and his promotion Monday during an off-day. Houston hosts the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

Singleton is rated by many as baseball's top first baseman of the future. His new deal runs through the 2018 season with club options for the following three seasons. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

The 22-year-old was hitting .267 with 14 homers and 43 RBIs for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Singleton was acquired from Philadelphia in the 2011 trade for Hunter Pence. He was suspended 50 games last season for a second failed drug test.

Singleton told The Associated Press in spring training that he has an addiction to marijuana and had spent a month in a rehabilitation center last year.

First baseman Marc Krauss was sent to Triple-A to make room for Singleton.

Heat locking in on Finals, not what summer brings

MIAMI (AP) For the Miami Heat, it's all about June.

July can wait.

Four years ago, when LeBron James uttered that now-infamous phrase - "not two, not three, not four, not five ..." - about how many championships he hoped to win with the Heat, it was almost immediately turned into a punch line. It rings prophetic in some ways now, with the Heat back in the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season.

How the Heat fare against in their NBA Finals rematch with the San Antonio Spurs might dictate what happens in July, when James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade can become free agents if they choose. A looming offseason of decisions has been a taboo subject for the Heat "Big 3" this season, and Wade insisted Monday that Miami's stars have not said a word to each other about what may or may not happen.

"I'm not lying," Wade said.

Still, as long as Miami keeps winning, it seems logical the "Big 3" will stay together.

"I want to come back. That's OK to say, I think," Bosh said Monday after the Heat finished their first workout in preparation for the NBA Finals, which begin Thursday in San Antonio. "I can't speak for anything else and I don't want to take away from the subject at hand, but I like it here. It's Miami. Enough said. People are dying to get here."

Regardless of the outcome of this Heat-Spurs series, there will be changes to the Heat, which is an annual rite for just about every team. James, Wade and Bosh can all opt out of their current deals. Shane Battier is retiring, Ray Allen may think about doing the same, while Mario Chalmers, James Jones and Rashard Lewis are notable free-agents-in-waiting.

It's not just the "Big 3" who aren't thinking too far ahead, yet.

Allen said no one in the room is looking past anything but this series - especially with the Spurs' Tim Duncan saying San Antonio will get it done this year after falling short against the Heat last season. But as James noted, both teams have their own motivation.

"That's the great thing about having veterans," Allen said. "Nobody worries about what's not here yet."

Winning a third straight title could make some of those stay-or-go decisions pretty simple. And Wade believes Miami's legacy has been secured.

"Whenever it's all said and done, the legacy of this team, it's going to be a great team," Wade said. "It's going to go down in history as an unbelievable team not only in South Florida but in NBA history."

Given that, it's easy to see why so much attention gets paid to how long this team can stay together.

Bosh, Wade and James all made it very clear in September that they were not going to let the summer of 2014 turn into the circus that the summer of 2010 was, when all three became free agents and decided to bring their talents together.

Entering the season, James said that his teammates "understand where I stand" regarding the future. And on Monday, James said he wasn't going to let himself be distracted by thinking about what impact the result of these NBA Finals will have on the legacy the Heat have created over the last four seasons.

"No, because I live in the moment," James said. "It's almost the same with my individual accomplishments. I never really understand them. The only time I'll be able to appreciate it is when I'm done playing the game. I'm in the moment. I don't even think about it."

Bosh was the last player off the practice floor Monday. And when the conversation turned to what happens after these finals, he was reluctant, he said, to think about anything beyond Game 1 on Thursday night.

"It's difficult enough concentrating on trying to get back to this point, let alone trying to win it," Bosh said. "We've done that before. All of us made a lot of mistakes in 2010, which is going to happen because that was our first time being in it. But now, not only are we vets in the league, with playoff experience, we know what to expect."

What decisions to expect this summer, that's another story.

"We still don't know," Battier said. "It's hard to explain with our group. We have a bunch of guys that sort of go with the flow. I think when the Big 3 signed here there was talk of legacy and there was talk of history. That's all academic at that point. Once you put the uniform on it's about competing your tail off and putting yourself in position to win, which we have."

Francona on Manny: "Sometimes we bumped heads"

CLEVELAND (AP) Indians manager Terry Francona isn't waiting for an apology from Manny Ramirez.

Francona guided Boston to two World Series titles during eight seasons, and the Red Sox played in Cleveland on Monday night. He was asked about comments Ramirez made last week during an event honoring the 2004 Red Sox, who won the franchise's first title since 1918.

Ramirez apologized for his sometimes bizarre behavior in Boston, but came short of saying he was sorry for pulling himself from the lineup before a game in 2008.

Francona didn't want to get drawn into a controversy and said he was happy Ramirez "is in a good place."

Francona said Ramirez "for the most part, was a really lovable guy." Francona added that "sometimes we bumped heads."

Ramirez attended last week's event in Boston. Francona he was invited, but was busy managing.

Ramirez is now a player-coach in the minors for the Chicago Cubs.

Hansen says Seattle NBA hopes will continue

SEATTLE (AP) Steve Ballmer's departure from the group looking to bring the NBA back to Seattle isn't derailing lead investor Chris Hansen's hopes of getting a team back in the region.

Hansen told The Associated Press on Monday that he is confident he'll be able to find investors to take Ballmer's place in his group that is trying to build a new arena and last year nearly bought and moved the Sacramento Kings to Seattle. Hansen is the majority investor in the project, but said it would likely take more than one person to replace Ballmer's investment.

Other than Hansen, the only other known partners in the investment group are members of the Nordstrom department store family.

Hansen said he won't put a limit on the number of investors at this time.

"I think we want to have a reasonable group of partners," Hansen said. "That will be the thing that is probably most missed from Steve's involvement. One, he's a great guy and very successful in his career and would have added a lot of insights and value in operating the team. That's probably the first thing that will be missed from having him as a partner and the second thing, given his net worth, (he) had the ability to be really the only other partner that we needed. In all likelihood there are not a lot of Steve Ballmers in the world with his financial well-being, so in all likelihood I think it's reasonable to assume we have a few more partners rather than just one."

Seattle's hopes seemed to take a blow last week when Ballmer agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. Among other things, it raised questions about whether Ballmer's decision should be taken as a sign that Seattle's hopes of getting a franchise are dwindling.

Hansen tried to calm those concerns, noting the environmental reviews on the proposed arena site are ongoing and that he remains committed to continuing the process both with the arena and a team. Hansen's memorandum of understanding with the city of Seattle and King County on the arena goes through November 2017.

"Everybody is very interested in what that means for right now. In six to nine months this will pass and we'll still be here trying to get our arena built and still be here trying to pursue a franchise and I think that is what is most important," Hansen said. "There is nothing we have to do. We own the land outright. There is no immediate time pressure that we have to do something and that's been very well received by the NBA as well - the fact we're willing to be patient and endure through this."

Because of a lack of buzz about the NBA prior to Ballmer agreeing to purchase the Clippers, questions about whether the NHL could be first to land in Seattle have increased. It peaked recently when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman flew to Seattle during the NHL playoffs to meet with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County executive Dow Constantine.

Hansen reiterated he does not have an interest in being the majority owner of an NHL franchise. But he's willing to partner with another investor who has that passion for the NHL. That would require a restructuring of the memorandum of understanding and Hansen said any re-writing of the deal would have to be initiated by the city and county.

"We would like to be accommodative to get the NHL here. There should be no question about that. We're building this arena as a two-sport building. It has the larger footprint for hockey. We've worked hard to do that. We would like to do everything in our power to allow hockey to come here in a way that makes sense for the NHL and for a prospective partner," Hansen said.

California Chrome's story may never repeat

AURORA, Colo. (AP) A message to horse lovers and dreamers out there: This will not happen to you.

Well, almost certainly not.

For all the buzz California Chrome's feel-good run at the Triple Crown is generating for horse racing, his too-good-to-be-true story has virtually no chance of repeating itself, according to the numbers.

The horse that will line up at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday is the product of an unspectacular mare and an equally unheralded stallion, bred in a state not known for producing winners and owned by a couple of racing outsiders who were labeled "dumb asses" for even pondering such a thing.

Byron Rogers, whose business is scientifically analyzing genetic makeup of racehorses, puts the odds at 50,000-to-1 against a horse with the strength and the stamina of a California Chrome ever showing up again among the 21,000 or so thoroughbred foals born each year. It's the sort of horse that shows up maybe once every three years, but even then doesn't always find his way into the spotlight because success requires a magic mix of the right owner, trainer and opportunity.

California Chrome was born at well-respected Harris Farms in Coalinga, California, and trained by longtime horseman Art Sherman, the 77-year-old who returned to the big-time nearly six decades after going to the Kentucky Derby as an exercise rider for Swaps, who won the 1955 Derby.

"This horse had everything go his way," Rogers said. "He had just about perfect genetics. Art Sherman is a very good trainer. Harris Farms is a good farm. You couldn't predict any of this at the start with this horse."

In fact, Rogers says, if California Chrome's parents were paired again, odds are only about one out of 10 their offspring would make it to a stakes race.

It's a reality that horsemen on the lower end of the sport, which is where California Chrome's owners once lived, are in touch with every day. Most aren't in it to reach the big time, only to break even with their expenses.

"It's all about luck and timing," says Shannon Rushton, executive director of the Colorado horse racing association, speaking recently at Arapahoe Park outside of Denver, where the Kentucky Derby is a distant dream for almost every man and horse. "Every year, you kind of hope that, at some point and time, you might be the one to lead a horse into the paddock on Breeder's Cup day or Kentucky Derby day."

The odds, even when the bloodlines are much more refined than California Chrome's, are very much against it.

Rogers says between only about 3.5 percent of thoroughbreds born each year are good enough to run in a stakes race. Only 20 can make it to the starting line at the Kentucky Derby. And yet, those odds have actually improved over the last decade, since the economic turndown also brought a slowdown in breeding. In 2005, the registered foal crop in the United States totaled more than 35,000. Last year, it was estimated at 21,275, continuing a steady decline that began in 2006.

Still, when owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin decided to buy an undistinguished filly, Love the Chase, for $8,000 a few years ago and breed her to an equally ordinary stallion named Lucky Pulpit, they knew they were buying into a fairy tale, the likes of which almost never end like this.

"There's always the dream. I think dreams are great," said Scott Powell, who owns and trains horses at Arapahoe Park. "But you have to deal with reality, too. It's not Kentucky Derby or bust."

While horsemen like Powell appreciate what California Chrome could do for their sport, they recognize the one-in-a-million nature of the whole thing.

"The goal is that they make money to maintain themselves," said Gilberto Dorantes, running his 3-year-old horse at Arapahoe Park on Memorial Day for the first time after growing up listening to his grandfather's stories about being a horseman in Mexico. "That's the goal. To enjoy the horses and have them do what they were bred for. That's the best thing I can do for those horses."

Dorantes spent around $500 on Dobes Bee - a far cry from the millions a select handful of very rich owners spend as they look from stable to stable, often turning to science, to find their magic horse.

Rogers said his business of merging data and genetics has burgeoned over the past few years, as big-money investors uncover as much information as possible in the quest to find the right horse to take big.

He doesn't expect thousands of copycat attempts in the next year, though Ian Tapp, a longtime horseman who keeps tabs on the breeding market, says California Chrome's success could produce an uptick in breeders in the colt's home state, much the way the success of Pennsylvania-bred Smarty Jones 10 years ago fueled the horse business in his home state.

"It gives some people at the bottom end of the commercial market some hope that there is an ability for them to have a good racehorse," Rogers said. "It tells them it doesn't have to go to (trainer) Todd Pletcher and be raised in Kentucky and have all these other things that trend in favor of other horses."

Rogers estimates about 40 percent of a thoroughbred's potential can be predicted by genetics. After that, it's up environment and then a roll of the dice.

"I know people who are obsessed with (winning the Kentucky Derby)," Powell said. "What a miserable life if that's all your goal is - to live to try to obtain something that is really not attainable for the average person. They better be doing it for other reasons or it will eat their lunch."

Records: Elway's son dragged woman from car

DENVER (AP) Jack Elway, the son of Denver Broncos general manager John Elway, was arrested on assault charges after his girlfriend told police he pulled her out of a car by her hair.

Court documents obtained Monday show the woman told Denver police that 24-year-old John Albert Elway also pushed her to the ground when she tried to get back in the car, causing scrapes.

The documents say the incident happened early Saturday near a college campus in downtown Denver. Elway initially fled the scene.

Elway was released from jail on $550 bond and was scheduled to appear in court Thursday. He faces charges of assault and disturbing the peace.

Court records do not list an attorney. A Broncos spokesman says the case is a personal family matter.

Pacers eager to keep Stephenson, starters intact

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Larry Bird wants Lance Stephenson back with the Indiana Pacers at the right price.

After spending the last week hearing Stephenson roundly criticized for his over-the-top antics with LeBron James in the Eastern Conference finals, Bird said Monday he hopes Stephenson stays with the team, headaches and all.

"I think his ceiling is what he wants it to be," said Bird, the Pacers' president of basketball operations. "I always want him back. You just don't let talent like that walk away if you can help it."

Stephenson will soon be a free agent. He has had no bigger supporter or more important fan than Bird, who took him in the second round of the 2010 draft, but even Bird was unhappy with Stephenson's attempt to play mind games with James.

Before Game 4, Stephenson told reporters that James' trash-talking was a "sign of weakness." Stephenson later walked back those comments, acknowledging he never should have made those thoughts public. In Game 5, Stephenson attempted to listen into Miami's huddle near midcourt, then blew in the ear of James, drawing an annoyed shake of the head from the four-time MVP.

In the series-deciding Game 6, Stephenson tapped James on the chin right after James hit him in the face on a 3-pointer. No foul was called. Later, Stephenson whacked Norris Cole in the head as the two chased a loose ball, resulting in a flagrant foul.

Bird didn't like any of it.

"I was very disappointed that in Game 5, Paul George put on a spectacular display, hit every big shot and after the game, everyone was talking about all the nonsense," Bird said. "That's not what we're about, and it's not professional."

There were times even Stephenson's teammates got annoyed.

All-Star center Roy Hibbert complained in late March that there were some "selfish dudes" in the locker room, a jab believed to be directed primarily at Stephenson. Hibbert later apologized for airing his grievance publicly. During Indiana's first-round playoff series, Stephenson and teammate Evan Turner tangled during a practice. Stephenson, Turner and coach Frank Vogel all downplayed the significance of the scrap, saying that it sometimes happens in the heat of the moment.

And after Stephenson was ejected from a regular-season game against Miami, Pacers players made it clear he had to show more self-discipline.

Despite all those problems, the 23-year-old Stephenson could be one of the hottest commodities in free agency after posting a league-high six triple-doubles during the regular season and emerging as the Pacers' top penetrator and energizer. That's why the Pacers want him back.

"Clearly, he's a free agent, and I'm certainly hoping that he's back," Vogel said, later acknowledging he played the role of team psychologist more this year than any previous year.

Indiana is expected to start the offseason $8 million to $12 million under next season's projected luxury tax threshold and already has its four other starters under contract. Bird has made it clear the Pacers will not pay the luxury tax.

All of which leads to one question: What are the Pacers willing to pay to keep Stephenson?

"We've talked about it briefly, but I haven't sat down with the owner (Herb Simon) yet," Bird said. "There's going to be a price and we're not going to go over that."

Bird isn't planning a major overhaul, though. He believes that the Pacers can get more consistent production from the bench and more from the starters, resulting in and a team that routinely plays at a championship level.

Still, Bird acknowledged he would listen to trade offers and may contemplate making a deal to get back into the first round of this year's draft.

But the first indication that the offseason plan wouldn't include major changes came when Bird decided to keep Vogel for another season.

"His job was never in jeopardy," Bird said, fidgeting in his chair as he addressed the rumors about Vogel's job security. "The day it (the report) happened, I went down to Frank and all of his assistants and said, `I want you back next year,' and that was the end of it for us."

The bigger concern is trying to figure out how to deal with Stephenson - on and off the court.

"When it comes down to it, it's up to him," Bird said about Stephenson's decision. "(Once he matures) his game is unlimited."

Last American singles player at French Open loses

PARIS (AP) Hardly a good day to be an American in Paris.

The last of the 22 U.S. men and women who were in the French Open singles draws, 15th-seeded Sloane Stephens, lost 6-4, 6-3 Monday to No. 4 Simona Halep of Romania in the fourth round. That came a day after the last American man in singles, No. 10 John Isner, exited before the quarterfinals, too.

There was more Monday, though.

The No. 1-seeded men's doubles team, defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan, lost in the quarterfinals, beaten 6-4, 6-2 by the 12th-seeded duo of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez of Spain. That left no Americans in men's or women's doubles, either.

And the No. 1-seeded boy in the junior tournament, 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe of College Park, Maryland, lost in the second round to Jan Choinski of Germany 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Stephens has been to the second week at six consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, the longest active streak by a woman. But she has lost in the fourth round of the French Open each of the past three years.

Her match Monday was tied at 4-all in the first set when Halep took control by winning the next four games.

"It's always tough playing someone who is really consistent and has a lot of confidence and just plays a solid game," said Stephens, who is based in Florida.

"I didn't execute my game as well as I thought I could," Stephens said. "That's a little bit disappointing, but obviously that happens."

Stephens was broken in six of the nine games she served and made 35 unforced errors, 10 more than first-time French Open quarterfinalist Halep.

"I dominated the match, I think," Halep said. "I didn't serve very well, but I tried to return better - and I did."

The Bryan twins have now failed to reach the final at any of the last three Grand Slam tournaments - after winning four major titles in a row before that, starting at the 2012 U.S. Open.

Their bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men's doubles since 1951 ended with a semifinal loss at last year's U.S. Open. The Bryans then lost in the third round at the Australian Open in January.

The brothers own a record 15 major doubles championships, including at Roland Garros in 2003 and 2013.

"Obviously, we're disappointed," Mike said. "We thought we could have played a little better."

Hernandez's cousin pleads not guilty to contempt

BOSTON (AP) A cousin of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty Monday to a criminal contempt of court charge.

Tanya Singleton, 38, appeared at the Suffolk Superior Court in Massachusetts after refusing to testify before a grand jury, despite being granted immunity, in the investigation of Hernandez's alleged role in a 2012 double slaying in Boston's South End.

Singleton had "relative and material information" about the investigation, including the SUV that was allegedly used in the drive-by shooting of Daniel de Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28, prosecutor Pat Haggan said. Investigators found the SUV at her home in Bristol, Connecticut, covered in dust and cobwebs, authorities said.

The victims' families have filed wrongful-death lawsuits against the former tight end seeking $6 million each. The two men, who did not know Hernandez before that night, were gunned down in their car after leaving a nightclub. A third man was wounded in that attack.

Hernandez, 24, was charged last week in the double homicide, which happened shortly before he signed a five-year, $40 million contract and went on to catch 51 passes and score five touchdowns during the 2012 NFL season.

He also faces murder charges in the death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who was killed in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, in June 2013. Two of his associates, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, also have been indicted on murder charges in that case. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Singleton's lawyer, E. Peter Parker, would not comment Monday outside court. He previously called her prosecution "aggressive and unnecessary."

A judge ordered her confined to her home with GPS tracking and required her to make weekly phone calls to her probation officer. Singleton, who is being treated for breast cancer, is allowed to go to medical appointments.

She is due back in court on July 15 for a pretrial hearing.

Nadal wins again to reach French Open quarters

PARIS -- For the first time in his career, Rafael Nadal will make a fifth straight appearance in the French Open quarterfinals.

Nadal won a record 32nd straight match at Roland Garros on Monday, beating Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 to improve on his own record by one.

Nadal is an eight-time French Open champion with a 63-1 record on the red clay in Paris. His only loss came in the fourth round in 2009, when he was a four-time defending champion for the first time.

Another upset never seemed possible this time, despite complaints of pain in his back that slowed his serves in the previous round.

"I don't want to talk too much about this thing today," Nadal said of his injury. "I have important match to come. Today I won a match in good shape. We'll see what's going on in the future."

Playing on Court Philippe Chatrier, Nadal's favorite court in the world, the top-seeded Spaniard controlled the match from the start. He then won 17 straight points to open the second set, taking a 4-0 lead before finally sending a backhand wide to make it 15-15 in the fifth game.

Later in that set, Lajovic held three break points at 0-40, but Nadal saved them all and held. It wasn't until late in the third, with the match far out of reach, that Lajovic did manage a break — the only game he won in the final set.

"I played with no mistakes and having the control with the backhand, with the forehand from the baseline," Nadal said. "Sure, you never know what's better, but in theory, the theory says that it's better win like this than win longer matches."

Nadal has won 13 major titles, and is the only man to win eight at one of the four Grand Slam tournaments. With another championship at Roland Garros this year, he would become the first man to win five straight French Open titles.

And he's looking rather unbeatable.

The Spaniard, who turns 28 on Tuesday, has lost only 23 games through four rounds, only four more than he lost in reaching the quarterfinals in 2012.

Nadal will next face fifth-seeded David Ferrer, the man he beat in last year's French Open final. Ferrer defeated 19th-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1.

In April, Ferrer beat Nadal on clay in the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo.

"Always when you have a loss in the last confrontation, that can (have an) effect. Or not. I don't know," Nadal said. "I will tell you after tomorrow. But at the end, important thing for me is I am in quarterfinals here."

Also Monday, Andy Murray was on court a day after he completed a five-set win over Philipp Kohlschreiber. He was playing Fernando Verdasco of Spain.

In the women's tournament, fourth-seeded Simona Halep of Romania beat Sloane Stephens of the United States 6-4, 6-3, and 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy defeated sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Earlier, Andrea Petkovic overcame an inconsistent serve and unseeded Kiki Bertens to reach the quarterfinals with a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory.

The 28th-seeded German was broken three times in the first set, once in the second and three more times in the third. But she was able to earn seven breaks of her own — all in the final two sets — to advance to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the second time in her career.

Bertens, a Dutchwoman ranked No. 148, had been bidding to become the lowest ranked woman to reach the French Open quarterfinals since the field at the clay-court major was expanded to 128 players in 1983.

After splitting the first two sets, the players exchanged breaks quickly and often in the third. Each of the first five games went to the returning player, with Petkovic finally holding to lead 4-2.

Both players were broken once more, but Petkovic was able to hold in the last game with a forehand winner on match point.

"It was super tough, because I didn't know her at all," Petkovic said. "I just stalked her on YouTube yesterday the whole day, and I was already impressed yesterday."

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