El Paso Very Much In Evidence at Kentucky Derby


SUPER SAVER, winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby, never ran at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino but El Paso and the Sunland track were very much in evidence at Churchill Downs again last weekend. Super Saver’s trainer, Todd Pletcher, was raised in El Paso and got his start at Sunland Park. Super Saver’s jockey, Calvin Borel, rode Sunland’s Mine That Bird to victory in last year’s Run for the Roses. And, Super Saver is owned by WinStar Farm, which is headed by Bill Casner who was born and raised in El Paso. As you know, WinStar also won this year’s Sunland Derby with Endorsement. Does all that make us look good, or what?


TOM DAWSON, another El Pasoan, also helped keep us in the spotlight. He’s another of El Paso’s contributions to big time sports media (along with Fred Albers who does radio for the PGA Tour). Dawson does some work for ESPN and he kept many folks informed about the Derby this year via the Internet while working for a magazine, SureBet Racing News. In one of his pre-race comments he signaled out Super Saver as a strong contender and boy, was he right.


TRIVIA question: Muhammad Ali won the heavyweight championship three times. Can you name the three men he beat on those three occasions? Answer at end. 


AMY STELL, who has coached Coronado High cheerleaders to great success, writes: “What a wonderful year. We traveled to Las Cruces and Albuquerque to compete in both the National Cheerleaders Association and the Universal Cheerleaders Association.  We won many awards … On April 11 we were in California at the American Championships American Showcase National Championship. In our division, we took second.  We won an even more prestigious award. Out of 400 teams, Coronado High School was the only one to win the Sportsmanship Hall of Fame Award.” Four of her cheerleaders will be attending the Cheerhawaii USA Summer Invitational in Honolulu this summer. Also, next fall the T-Birds’ Melissa Munoz will be cheering on the sidelines for UTEP, Kelly Kay Moore for TCU and Amanda Mitchell for Vanderbilt.


KEVIN LOVELL, president of the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame, deserves much praise. Not only was this year’s induction banquet at UTEP sold out but the overflow was so big more tables had to be put into use. Lovell’s all-out effort, his handling of the meetings and his position as general manager of KVIA-TV helped greatly. And here’s another plus: I don’t’ have to tell you what the inductees look like, what the inductees did and what the inductees said. You can watch it all on KVIA.com.


TIM FLOYD was a surprise visitor to the banquet and I was encouraged about his staying at UTEP for the long haul when he said he was losing nine players next year but was already recruiting young players with whom he could start building for the future after next year.


BOB STULL, athletic director at UTEP, was gracious about the defeat of a tuition increase to help athletics but he isn’t giving up. In case you missed his official statement, here it is: “While we are disappointed with the result of the voting, we understand the challenges students face with increasing tuition costs and the current economic state.  We’d like to thank the Student Government Association for supporting the initiative, and perhaps there will be a more appropriate time to revisit the issue in the future.”


ANSWER to trivia question: Sonny Liston, George Foreman and Leon Spinks.


Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at rayf358@yahoo.com or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com