Monthly Archives: January 2017

Information Dreaming’s Story Starts With 2 Brooklyn Boys’ Trips At Horse Racing

Viola’s father was among the regulars who folded their newspapers and placed them in the seams of their seats to claim the seats as their own, a custom that is still part of the horseplayer’s code.

One job for the young Viola was to stand in front of the track’s tote board and watch for sudden shifts in wagering. It would help him understand numbers, and it was also “magical being next to your dad, as he was really committed to a sport he loved,” Viola said.

Through the years, Viola and Bonomo’s friendship continued, as Vinnie went to West Point and Anthony to Queens to pitch baseball for St. John’s.

“I just loved seeing him in that West Point uniform,” Bonomo said. “He actually represented everything I wasn’t — orderly, disciplined.”

They continued to dream, too.

“Growing up as kids, we’ve won a lot of Kentucky Derbys, but never in reality,” Bonomo said.

Both men built successful business careers.

Viola, an Army Reserve major, became a billionaire Wall Street trader and the owner of the Florida Panthers in the N.H.L. He was President Trump’s first nominee to be the secretary of the Army until he withdrew his name in February, citing an inability to extricate himself from business ties to meet ethics requirements. Bonomo made it big in the insurance industry and is the chief executive of Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers.

When Viola decided to get into the horse business, he called his childhood friend Bonomo.

“I think we just knew, when we got together, something special was going to happen,” Bonomo said.

The horse that became Always Dreaming fell into the hands of the partners when Bonomo’s son, Anthony Jr., busted his father’s prescribed budget and bought the colt, the son of Bodemeister, for $350,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

The elder Bonomo’s wife, Mary Ellen, fell for the colt and decided on a name that encompassed her husband, his friend Vinnie and their old neighborhood. Her father, too, was a horseplayer who would rather have spent a day at Aqueduct or Belmont Park than anywhere else.

“I just always daydreamed,” she said. “I probably daydream a little too much. Why don’t we just name it Dreaming? Everybody dreams of something, whether it’s a big event or special day, the birth of their child, winning the Kentucky Derby. So I just said, ‘Always Dreaming.’ It just took off.”

So did the colt on Saturday, jetting on a wet track to a largely uncontested two-and-three-quarters-lengths victory. They had their Kentucky Derby — this time for real.

Now, Viola and Bonomo say they intend to take Always Dreaming to the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, at Pimlico in Baltimore.

“My initial impression is he finished the race great,” said Todd Pletcher, the colt’s trainer. “He came back to the winner’s enclosure and seemed like he caught his breath pretty quickly. So, you know, I think, if he’s doing well, we’re going to go to Baltimore. I don’t think I’ll have to twist anybody’s arm on the other side of the table here to do that.”

No, he won’t. Viola and Bonomo want to go. Whom will their colt face? No one knows yet. Baltimore racing officials will hustle up some horses to fill the gate for the Preakness.

Can Always Dreaming win again? His owners know speculation is worthless and predictions foolish. A potential Triple Crown? They stiff-arm that notion — ask after Baltimore.

Mary Ellen Bonomo, however, can’t help looking ahead. Dreaming, even.

“When this horse has its first baby,” she said, “we will name it Keep on Dreaming.”

Why not? It worked once.

The Cleveland Cavaliers Finish Another Playoff Sweep In Basketball

“It’s good for us, and it’s important we stay crisp on the floor,” forward Kevin Love said. “But we’ve been able to find a pretty good blueprint.”

By dismantling their first two opponents, the Cavaliers are conditioning themselves to be even more fearsome as the postseason marches on. They treated the Raptors and the Indiana Pacers, whom they defeated in the first round, like piñatas. Back at their training compound in the Cleveland suburbs, the restorative powers of the massage table and the cold tub await them.

Rest and recovery are James’s two best friends at this stage. On Sunday, he cluttered the box score of the 207th playoff game of his career with 35 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. In four games against Toronto, James averaged 36 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 57.3 percent from the field. He is 32. Neither the Pacers nor the Raptors were capable of stopping him, or even slowing him. Up next for the Cavaliers: the Boston Celtics or the Washington Wizards, who are still slugging it out in the conference semifinals.

“I guarantee you, every team’s thought process is: Let’s figure out a way to get past LeBron, and we can play for a title,” said the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan, who compared the challenge to the Sisyphean task facing opponents of the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls. “As competitors, you want to be in these moments and measure yourself and be able to compete and see. It’s tough. It’s extremely tough. But I wouldn’t want to go against nobody else to make it easy.”

Several teams out west can commiserate with the Raptors. As the N.B.A. edges toward its conference finals, the playoffs are again shaping up as a glorified stage for the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, who have combined for 15 wins (and counting) without a loss. Everybody else has been background noise.

Nobody would be surprised to see the Cavaliers and the Warriors back in the N.B.A. finals for the third straight year. Both are doing what they can to eliminate wear and tear through the opening rounds.

Last season, the Warriors endured every challenge that the playoffs could deliver. Stephen Curry injured his knee in the first round. His team needed seven games to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference finals. Facing the Cavaliers in the N.B.A. finals, the Warriors built a three-games-to-one series lead before collapsing. They looked spent by the end.

Golden State has experienced no such issues this time around. Even without the sideline presence of Coach Steve Kerr, who continues to receive treatment for the side effects of spinal surgery in 2015, the Warriors are one victory from sweeping the Jazz in their conference semifinal series. The Jazz outlasted the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round, and perhaps that seven-game series took a toll. Or maybe the Warriors are just too good. Their average margin of victory in the first two rounds has been 15.1 points.

More surprising, though, is the way the Cavaliers have coasted. Yes, the Cavaliers are the defending champions. Yes, the Cavaliers employ his eminence, LeBron Raymone James. But there were stretches of the regular season — long stretches, in fact — when they looked mortal. They lost 13 of their final 22 games — and the conference’s top seed, to the Celtics.

“We’re healthy,” James said. “We got more practice time during the playoffs than we did the whole month of March because of injuries and because we were on the road so much.”

At the same time, their struggles turned out to be irrelevant. At practice, Coach Tyronn Lue was developing defensive schemes that he would not reveal until the playoffs. He was also working to incorporate midseason acquisitions like Kyle Korver, who wound up demoralizing the Raptors from 3-point range. On Sunday, he scored 18 points off the bench.

“Guys got bored with the process because we never really used it a lot,” Lue said before Sunday’s game. “But now, you can see that we’re doing it: We’re on the right page; we’re clicking defensively. And that’s because of the work we put in throughout the regular season.”

James toyed with the Raptors. In the second half of Game 3, for example, he lofted a series of runners with his left hand — his off hand. It appeared as if he were doing it just to challenge and amuse himself, to make a lopsided series interesting. He was a big cat pawing at a mouse.

“He seems a lot faster and quicker this year from last year,” DeRozan said, adding, “It’s incredible for someone with that amount of mileage to be able to come back seeming faster and quicker.”

James has long been known as one of the game’s most durable players. Now, in the playoffs, he has made himself as dangerous as ever by playing as few games as possible. Just the way he wants it.

News Celtics’ Stretch of Futility Gives Wizards Reason to Believe

When Amir Johnson sank a 3-pointer early in the third quarter, the Celtics were looking fairly good in their playoff game against the Washington Wizards on Sunday night. Boston was up by 5 and appeared to be on the way to stealing a road win to take a three-games-to-one lead in the N.B.A. playoff series.

Then it started to go wrong. The Wizards used an eye-opening 26-0 run to take a 74-53 lead and went on to win, 121-102, evening the series at two games each.

While the Wizards sank an awful lot of shots in that stretch, getting 8 points from Bradley Beal and 7 from John Wall, what happened on the Celtics’ possessions was just as important.

Boston’s six and a half minutes of futility:

4-0: Jae Crowder tried an open baseline 3-pointer that missed. Al Horford followed on the next possession with an airballed 17-foot jumper; because it did not hit the rim, the Celtics were hit with a shot clock violation.

7-0: Another shot clock violation.

9-0: A lunging, off-balance 7-footer by Thomas is missed.

11-0: A timeout by Boston fails to right the ship. Crowder misses a 25-foot 3-pointer short.

14-0: Thomas, continuing to be hounded by the Wizards defense near the top of the key, makes another soft pass. It is stolen by Otto Porter Jr., who breaks away for a dunk.

16-0: Avery Bradley misses a 27-foot 3-pointer. On the next possession, he turns it over when Wall tips the ball from behind. This also leads to an easy Wizards bucket.

19-0: Marcus Smart loses the handle on the ball under pressure from Markieff Morris.

22-0: Thomas commits an offensive foul.

24-0: Thomas tries to drive and falls down for another turnover caused by Morris.

26-0: The Celtics try another timeout, and this time it works. Horford finally scores to end the drought.

Thomas, the Celtics’ star, finished with 19 points and 6 turnovers. After the game, he pointed to what he saw as lax refereeing.

“They were very physical; they were very physical,” he said. “The refs were allowing them to hold and grab and do all those things. I think, especially in that third quarter, I might have hit the ground five or six straight times, and I’m not one that likes hitting the ground. So I think it’s got to be called differently.”

Free throws were fairly even for the game: The Wizards had 27 and the Celtics 24. But Thomas did not shoot one.

“I’m not saying that’s the reason we lost,” Thomas said. “They went on a 26-0 run, and we can’t have that on the road.”

The Celtics are the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but they have been struggling compared with the No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston lost its first two games at home to the eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls, before winning that series, 4-2, and is now locked at two apiece with the Wizards. In contrast, the Cavs swept the Indiana Pacers in four close games, then looked even better in sweeping the Toronto Raptors.

As for the Wizards, the 26-0 run and victory raise their hopes of an upset in the series.

“We’re capable of those type of runs every game,” Morris told The Associated Press after the game.

If he’s right, the Celtics are in trouble.

Eugenie Bouchard a Critic of Sharapova’s and Defeats Her in Madrid Tennis

It was Bouchard’s first victory in five meetings with Sharapova, who had 49 unforced errors and nine double faults. Bouchard, ranked 60th, had 21 break opportunities, converting five.

The Madrid Open was only the second tournament for Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, since her 15-month suspension. She received a wild card for Stuttgart last month before reaching the semifinals there, and she received a wild card for Madrid, a tournament she won in 2014. Many players did not like that she received entry without having to qualify.

Bouchard had not backed off her comments, in which she asserted that Sharapova should not be allowed back on the tour.

“I don’t think that’s right,” Bouchard told the Turkish broadcaster TRT World last month. “She is a cheater and so, to me, I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again. It’s so unfair to all the other players who do it the right way.”

This week, she got her chance to let her tennis speak for itself.

“It definitely helps when you can back it up,” Bouchard said. “Obviously, there was a lot going on besides tennis in this match. As soon as I stepped on the court, I really just wanted to make it about tennis. We both did that. We just battled our hearts out.”

There were a few long stares and loud cheers by the players after some points. But Sharapova said she did not need extra motivation to play against anybody.

“I’m just one of the two players out on the court,” Sharapova said. “Everything that surrounds myself, I don’t pay attention to much of it. I’ve been part of this game for many years. I know what the drill is.”

Sharapova won the first game with a powerful shot at the net that forced Bouchard to protect her body. She deflected the ball with her racket and lost the point.

In a tense game near the end of the first set, Sharapova was frustrated after Bouchard won a point when the ball changed directions after striking a net cord. Bouchard turned around without directly acknowledging her fortune.