Friday, April 30, 2010

Intersting boxing note

In the June 10 issue of the Ring boxing magazine, El Paso boxer Antonio Escalante is ranked No. 10 on the list of most exciting boxers in the world.

- Felix

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Baseball/Softball Rankings, April 28

Class 5A
1. La Cueva
2. Rio Rancho
3. Eldorado
4. Carlsbad
5. Onate
6. Cibola
7. Las Cruces High
8. Hobbs
9. Sandia
10. Mayfield

Class 5A
1. La Cueva
2. Rio Rancho
3. Cibola
4. Las Cruces High
5. Carlsbad
6. Sandia
7. Onate
8. Valley
9. Mayfield
10. Eldorado

Mine That Bird look back

One year later, Mine That Bird brings back great memories
By Felix Chavez
El Paso Times
EL PASO — Last year at this time, Mine That Bird was an afterthought for many horse racing insiders.
The now 4-year-old gelding was discarded by many at 50-1 odds at post time of the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby.
But by the end of the race, Mine That Bird had earned instant fame. Getting a brilliant rail-hugging ride by jockey Calvin Borel on his way to one of the greatest upsets in Kentucky Derby History. Mine That Bird won at odds of 50-1 and returned $103.20 for his loyal backers. Only Donerail’s win at odds of 91-1 in 1913 was a bigger upset.
So a year later, what are the connections of Mine That Bird up to? Owners Mark Allen and Leonard Blach and trainer Chip Woolley are in Louisville, Ky., this week and will be there for the 136th running of the Run for the Roses.
“It’s been a great time so far,” Woolley said. “Being back in Louisville has given me a chance to see some great horses, meet with some friends and just take a step back and remember last year’s race. It was a wonderful race, a very nice reward for all the hard work. Mine That Bird is a good horse, he ran an incredible race. I’m also grateful I’m healthy this year. Last year I was hobbling around on a broken leg and couldn’t do as much. This year is different.”
Mine That Bird joined a select group of horses last year to win the Derby. He is a gelding and other than Funny Cide in 2003, no gelding had won the race since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.
"If someone had given me 100 opportunities to bet on that
race, I would not have picked Mine That Bird with any of those picks,” local racing fan Greg Berry said. “He wasn't on anyone's pre-race radar. But when he began to move, I never saw a horse running faster in the last quarter than he was."
After a brilliant two-year-old campaign in Canada, in which he earned the Sovereign Award as the top 2-year in that country, Blach and Allen purchased the horse for $400,000 and raced the horse twice at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
Mine That Bird ran second and fourth in the Borderland and Sunland Derbies before embarking on his Triple Crown run. After the Kentucky Derby, Mine That Bird ran second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont. He hasn’t run since finishing out of the money in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“Being back at Churchill this week has brought back so many great memories and feelings,” Blach said. “Obviously, this week there is no pressure and not nearly as many media commitments. The Kentucky Derby is great race, the atmosphere here is unbelievable. To be a part of it even this year is unique. There is so much history and to think about what Mine That Bird did brings a smile to my face.”
Mine That Bird’s win in the Derby and subsequent success in the Triple Crown races was good news for the Sunland Derby. This past March, the Sunland Derby was a graded stakes event, meaning more top-notch horses ran in the race and were Kentucky Derby caliber.
Endorsement and Conveyance both ran in the Sunland Derby and qualified for the Kentucky Derby, although Endorsement suffered an ankle injury and was pulled out of the race.
“The Sunland Derby was already a good race before it got graded,” Woolley said. “To see that race get graded in part because of what Mine That Bird did was a good deal for the track and New Mexico racing.”
The win for Woolley in the Derby was by far his signature win and just how hard is it for a trainer or a jockey to get a win in the world’s most famous race?
One of the country’s top trainers, Todd Pletcher is 0-for-24. D.Wayne Lukas, who is a well-known trainer, was 0-for-12 before his first win and several top jockeys are still don’t own a win.
Mine That Bird is currently in Roswell, where Blach and Allen make their home base. But he will be back in training at Churchill Downs later this month and could run in next month’s Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.
There have been many great upsets in the Kentucky Derby and several close finishes. But there are some who are pushing for the Kentucky Derby to be downsized from 20 horses to perhaps 14. There is also some sentiment that more stock be put in how a horse does as a three-year-old and not as much as a two-year-old. Mine That Bird’s graded earnings and much of his success came as a two-year-old before the Kentucky.
Horses are entered into the race depending on their earnings in graded races.
“Things have gone pretty smoothly over the years in determining who gets in the Derby,” Woolley said. “Sure, there are a few horses that don’t get any, but it’s minimal. Most of the Kentucky Derby winners go on to do well. Mine That Bird proved he was worthy by doing well in Triple Crown.”
Added Blach: “I like how things are now. If they were to change how they determine how you get in the Derby, owners and trainers would really have to work their three-year-olds very hard to get in that race.”
Mine That Bird helped the Kentucky Derby draw 16.3 million viewers for last year’s race, the highest since 1992. He also aided Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino in other ways besides helping its signature race become graded.
“Our business for the Triple Crown races were very good, better than in previous years,” said Dustin Dix, the director of racing operations at Sunland Park. “People really got into the Triple Crown and wanted to learn a great deal more about racing. It was a special day last year when Mine That Bird won. It was a great run.
Mine That Bird’s success in last year’s Derby meant different things to many different people. But the victory also reminded sports fans that upsets are part of the sports fabric, particularly in horse racing’s biggest and most-anticipated race of the year.

Felix Chavez can be reached at; (915) 546-6374

Endorsement out of Derby

Sunland Derby winner Endorsement will miss Saturday's Kentucky Derby due to an ankle injury. Endorsement won the March 28 Sunland Derby, beating favorite Conveyance. Conveyance is slated to run in the Kentucky Derby.

- Felix

More on Mine That Bird

Looks like 2009 Kentucky Derby champion Mine That Bird could run in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Chuchill Downs on June 12. Mine That Bird hasn't run since the Breeders' Cup Classic last November.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mayweather vs. Mosley

For you boxing fans out there, don't forget about Saturday night's welterweight clash between Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather. The two veterans are two of the best in the world and Saturday's fight promises to be a classic battle.

I still believe Floyd is the better fighter overall and his defensive exploits will be too much. He wins by decision.

Also, keep an eye for Mexican welterweight Saul Alvarez on the undercard. Alvarez is an up and coming fighter, he's just 19, but many consider him to be the next great Mexican icon in the boxing ring.

Any thoughts on Saturday's card?


Monday, April 26, 2010

NMSU football story

I'm going out of the box on my blog here by posting a football story. But here is one on a couple of El Paso kids trying to find playing time for the Aggies at New Mexico State.


Former El Paso high school players trying to make mark at NMSU
By Felix Chavez
El Paso Times
LAS CRUCES — A pair of former El Paso high school football players are making a push for playing time next fall for the New Mexico State football team.
junior Ruben Escarcega and freshman Jake Swenson are both competing for the Aggies under second-year head coach DeWayne Walker. Both players redshirted last fall.
Escarcega is playing at right tackle, while Swenson is a right guard. Both have seen extensive time on the field during spring practice, which ends May 1 for the Aggies.
Swenson was one of the first players to commit to Walker after the former UCLA defensive coordinator was hired in December of 2008. Swenson attended Montwood High School during his prep career.
Swenson, a 6-foot-6, 314-pounder, said last year’s redshirt campaign it was a learning experience for him and one that he has used to his benefit.
“I got to practice against the first team and I learned a lot about what it will take to be successful at the college level,” said Swenson, who was one of the top linemen in El Paso during his high school career. “It’s been a learning process, but I feel like I’m doing some good things. I just want to get on the field and help the team in whatever situation I can.”
Swenson did suffer a left knee injury and will miss the final week of spring practice.
Escarcega, the former Del Valle standout, spent two seasons at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell before signing with the Aggies.
“There is a transition from JC to Division I,” Escarcega said. “But I feel like I have made enough progress and I’m in a spot where I feel I can contribute. I picked up a lot of things last year while sitting out.”
New Mexico State offensive line coach Jason Lenzmeier said both players have a chance to contribute in the fall.
“Ruben has made a bunch of progress,” Lenzmeier said. “Right now, he’s the No. 1 at right guard. We did sign a guard who will come in the fall and challenge for a spot, but Ruben is doing some good things. Jake is a big kid, who is young and maturing. I’ve been able to work with him more this spring and he’s picking things up every day. We feel like our depth is good on the line and both of them add to it.”
Last year, the Aggies struggled on offense in every aspect. The team scored just 126 points during a 3-10 season. The Aggies got a new offensive coordinator in Mike Dunbar and both offensive linemen believe the offense will be good.
“We’re doing a variety of things on offense and that will make us more effective,” Escarcega said. “We’re still learning, but making progress.”
The Aggies will attempt to qualify for bowl game for the first time since 1960 under Walker, who was considered an up and coming assistant when at UCLA.
“Coach Walker is a good coach and we believe in what he is doing,” Swenson said. “We are working hard every day and he wants us to be a winner in every aspect.

Felix Chavez can be reached at; 546-6374

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mine That Bird Update

I talked to 2009 Kentucky Derby winning trainer Chip Woolley on Sunday. He said Mine That Bird, which won the race, is still based in Roswell and a decision on which race he'll race in later this year will be made at a later date. Woolley is back at Churchill Downs this week to watch the race and catchup with some friends he met at last year's Derby.
Saturday's running of the race will be No. 136.

- Felix

Abie Han update

El Paso junior middleweight Abie Han, who trains in Las Cruces with trainer Louie Burke, will fight May 6 in Dallas, Texas, against 13-7 Jose Gonzalez. Gonzalez is no pushover, he has fought Joaquin Zamora, Derel Ennis and Ronald Hearns.

- Felix

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Antonio Escalante fight off

The May 7 Antonio Escalante vs. Carlos Rodriguez fight at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso has been postponed. Escalanted suffered an elbow injury in training. A date has not been set for fight.

- Felix

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sunland Park Racetrack column, season ending

By Felix Chavez
El Paso Times
The 51st season of racing at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino had its share of ups and downs, upsets and plenty of wins by the favorites.
But a pair of jockeys and a big effort by a Kentucky-bound horse helped make the season one of the best since I started covering the meet 10 years ago.
Thoroughbred jockey Luis Contreras finally put an end to the reign of Ken Tohill as the top jockey at the track. Tohill had won six straight riding titles entering the 2009-10 campaign, but Contreras won a meet-high 51 races this year, despite missing the last three weeks because he had a commitment to ride in Canada for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Contreras is a solid, young rider and has the potential to win many more titles at the Southern New Mexico track if he stays in the area. The Mexico City native certainly has the potential to move up a notch to a bigger track down the road when he gains more experience.
Contreras is a competent rider, who is patient and takes what is given him on the track.
The other jockey who made covering the races interesting this year was Alejandro Medellin.
The native of Mexico City took New Mexico by storm in 2008 and has established himself as arguably the best overall jockey in the state. He tied for first in the quarter horse standings with 31 wins and was third in the thoroughbred standings with 41 wins, just one out of second place.
Medellin is a tough rider, he will take chances and he is confident in what he doing out there on the track. He is always a danger on a horse, regardless of odds and regardless of the type of race he is riding in.
There have been many great jockeys to grace the oval at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, but right now it’s Contreras and Medellin battling it out for the top spot at the state’s best track. It’ll be interesting to see the two go head to head next year.
Back on March 28, Sunland Derby had its best field ever in its short history and it was an 11-1 shot, which won that race and left many believing he could fare well in the Kentucky Derby.
Endorsement, trained by Shannon Ritter, was very impressive in winning by three lengths and earning a very nice 101 speed figure in the process.
Endorsement’s win was very respectable in the sense that he beat the likes of Conveyance and Tempted to Tapit, two very good horses.
Ritter did a commendable job of getting her horse ready to run and Endorsement should be sharp for the May 1 Derby.
In all, it was a solid season for Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. There were many big-time performances by very good horses such as First Moonflash and Queen Greeley and racing fans saw the return of veteran jockey Pat Valenzuela for the final few weeks of the season.
But the meet belonged to Contreras, Medellin and Endorsement and that trifecta made it a winning campaign for the track.
Felix Chavez can be reached at; (915) 546-6374

Prep Baseball/Softball Polls, April 21

Class 5A
1. Eldorado
2. La Cueva
3. Rio Rancho
4. Carlsbad
5. Onate
6. Cibola
7. Las Cruces
8. Hobbs
9. Mayfield
10. Sandia
Class 4A
1. Piedra Vista
2. Artesia
3. Farmington
4. Moriarty
5. Academy
6. Volcano Vista
7. Belen
8. Roswell
9. St. Pius
10. Goddard
Class 3A
1. Sandia Prep
2. Bloomfield
3. Cobre, Lovington
5. St. Mike's
6. Hope Christian
7. Portales
8. Raton
9. Robertson
10. Miyamura
Class 1A/2A
1. Eunice
2. Texico
3. Estancia
4. Tularosa
5. Santa Rosa
6. Tucumcari
7. Loving, East Mountain
9. Lordsburg
10. Floyd

Class 1A/2A
1. Capitan
2. Loving
3. East Mountain
4. Jemez Valley
5. Eunice
6. Estancia
7. Rehoboth
8. McCurdy
9. Lordsburgh
10. Jal
Class 3A
1. Bloomfield
2. Cobre
3. Portales
4. Raton
5. Miyamura
6. Santa Fe Indian
7. Lovington
8. Laguna Acoma
9. Pojoaque, St. Mike's
Class 4A
1. Piedra Vista
2. Volcano Vista
3. Silver
4. Artesia
5. Kirtland Central
6. Farmington
7. Aztec
8. St. Pius
9. Moarity
10. Roswell
Class 5A
1. La Cueva
2. Rio Rancho
3. Cibola
4. Las Cruces High
5. Onate
6. Carlsbad
7. Sandia
8. Valley
9. Mayfield
10. Eldorado

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

All-State Basketball Teams, New Mexico

Class 5A
First Team
Christian Sacoman, Eldorado
Ronnie Daniels, La Cueva
Michael Maya, Valley
Christopher Strong, Eldorado
Dylan Fritsch, Las Cueva
Second Team
Lucas Archuleta, Rio Rancho
Shelby Reeves, Hobbs
Ryan Becenti, Gallup
Marcus Slocum, Clovis
Josh Trujillo, Mayfield

Class 4A
First Team
Keydrick Allen, Roswell
Rodney Coles, Espanola Valley
Mario Molina, Volcano Vista
AJ Peralta, Roswell
Alex Kirk, Los Alamos
Second Team
Aaron Aragon, Espanola Valley
Joshua Mattox, Belen
Luis Rodriguez, Santa Teresa
Luis Alvarado, Espanola Valley
Marek Olesinski, Roswell

Class 3A
First Team
Matt Murphy, Hope Christian
Kyle Elliott, Hope Christian
Patrick Griswold, St. Mike's
Kody Salcido, Sandia Prep
Christian Schlenker, Hope Christian
Second Team
Jake Tenorio, Sandia Prep
Jamaal Anderson, Santa Fe Indian
Shawn Carrasco, Portales
Jared Marquez, Socorro
Arren Wells, Hope Christian
Jody Atencio, Santa Fe Indian

Class 2A
First Team
Cody Correa, Mesilla Valley Christian
Emery Coleman, Tularosa
Jonathan Allison, Bosque
Scott Adler, Mesilla Valley Christian
Seth Bailey, Texico
Second Team
Isaac Bejarano, Hagerman
Jim Coleman, Tularosa
Carson Carrillo, Tularosa
James Vigil, Tularosa
Aaron Gjullin, Bosque

Class 1A
First Team
Logan Medlin, Tatum
Isaiah DeHerrera, Springer
Karl Esquibel, Wagon Mound
Brandon Rafool, Logan
Ethan Shelley, Cliff
Eric Caldwell, Springer
Second Team
Tabor Martinez, Des Moines
Clint Barnard, Melrose
Ryan Glenn, Tatum
Cody Runyan, Cliff
Chet Chenault, Floyd
Dax Moyer, Fort Sumner

Class 5A
First Team
Ebony Walker, Sandia
Korina Chapman, Cibola
Kya De Garmo, Eldorado
Antiesha Brown, Clovis
Andrea Aragon, Las Cruces High
Second Team
Jade Brown, Las Cruces High
Camille Boal, Sandia High
Amber Battle, Cibola
Angel Reyes, Valley
Elena Martinez-Velasquez, Sandia

Class 4A
First Team
Taylor Ealey, Los Alamos
Shanice Steenholdt, Roswell
Nisa Duran, Espanola Valley
Elisha Levingston, St. Pius
Amanda Kerr, Kirtland Central
Second Team
Schylar Malone, Volcano Vista
Meghan Yazzie, Kirtland Central
Olivia Harris, Kirtland Central
Candace Pollard, Artesia
Kalen Henderson, Shiprock

Class 3A
First Team
Mystica Perez Lovington
Jenine Coriz, Santa Fe Indian
Linda Esquibel, W. Las Vegas
Roxanne Silva, Socorro
Miranda Medina, Santa Fe Indian
Second Team
Miranda Medina, W. Las Vegas
Tamra Quintana, St. Mike's
Tana Boyd, Miyamura
Danessa Grover, Hope Christian
Macy Mitchell, Portales

Class 2A
First Team
Victoria Richards, Texico
Jaylyn Cooper, Texico
Jordyn Cooper, Texico
Kaitlin Luscombe, Texico
Renae Roybal, Santa Rosa
Second Team
Sara Tapia, Santa Rosa
Demetria Clichee, Navajo Pine
Shannon Van Matre, Texico
Samantha Romero, Santa Rosa
Samantha Dunnahoo, Hagerman

Class 1A
First Team
Tori Tucker, Floyd
Mariah Peralta, Cliff
Cassidy Doherty, Des Moines
Nicole Hardy, Magdalena
Kelli Merrick, Dora
Second Team
Tanna Whitecotton, Floyd
Reavis Best, Elida
Keanda Chavez, Magdalena
Jenna Jenkins, Cliff
Mandy Rush, Grady

Monday, April 19, 2010

Boxer Edwin Valero dies

In the ring, Venezuela's Edwin Valero was a heavy-handed, hard-working fighter who was exciting to watch. The 28-year-old was a hero in his native country, a fighter with a brilliant past and a bright future.

Sadly, outside the ring, his life was apparently on the way down. It has been a sad few months in boxing. The sport lost the likes of Arturo Gatti, Alexis Arguello and Vernon Forrest.

Sadly, we will never know what Valero would have done against some of the lightweight's top fighters. I'll remember him as a great fighter in the ring and one who could have beaten elite fighters.

What were your thoughts on Edwin Valero?

- Felix

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Las Cruces High's Andrea Aragon

Las Cruces High's Andrea Aragon signed last week to continue her basketball career at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, N.M.

It's good to see Aragon sign and get a chance to play at the next level, I'm surprised she didn't sign with a four-year school. Aragon is a very good all-around player, a fierce competitor and a big reason the Bulldawgs were a Final Four team in Class 5A in two of her final three years in high school.

Aragon is a good shooter, has a good feel for the game and can pass the ball well. I wouldn't be shocked if she started or played major minutes at NMJC next year. And don't be surprised if she lands a scholarship to a four-year school down the road.

Aragon came a long way during her time at LCHS and is a fun player to watch. As with all players, she'll need to continue to work on her game in all facets and must step things up a notch at the college level.

It's always good to see a player with talent and a good work ethic be rewarded and Aragon has certainly been rewarded.

- Felix

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Baseball/Softball Rankings, April 14

New Mexico High School Coaches Association Rankings
Class 3A
1. Sandia Prep
2. Bloomfield
3. Cobre
4. Lovington
5. St. Mike's
6. Hope Christian
7. Portales
8 (tie). Raton, Robertson
10. Ruidoso
Class 4A
1. Piedra Vista
2. Artesia
3. Farmington
4. Belen
5. Moriarty
6. Academy
7. Volcano Vista
8. Roswell
9. Goddard
10. St. Pius
Class 5A
1. Eldorado
2. La Cueva
3. Rio Rancho
4. Carlsbad
5. Onate
6. Las Cruces
7. Cibola
8. Hobbs
9. Mayfield
10. Sandia
Class A-AA
1. Loving
2. Capitan
3. East Mountain
4. Eunice
5. Jemez Valley
6. McCurdy
7. Estancia
8. Gallup Catholic
9. Navajo Prep
10. Tucumcari
Class 3A
1. Bloomfield
2. Cobre
3. Portales
4. Miyamura
5 (tie). Santa Fe Indian, Raton
7. Pojoaque
8. Lovington
9. Laguna Acoma
10. St. Mike's
Class 4A
1. Piedra Vista
2. Volcano Vista
3. Silver
4 (tie). Farmington, Artesia
6. Aztec
7. Kirtland Central
8. St. Pius
9. Moriarty
10. Roswell
Class 5A
1. La Cueva
2. Cibola
3. Las Cruces
4. Rio Rancho
5 (tie). Valley, Carlsbad
7 (tie) Sandia, Mayfield
9. Onate
10. Eldorado

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Final weekend of racing shaping up

The final weekend of racing is shaping up to be a solid one at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.

The big race is Sunday's Sunland Park Handicap, which will contested at one and 1/8th miles for a purse of $140,000. The eight-horse field looks to be a dandy. Entered are Dumar, Going Ballistic, Jacobino, Ketchikan, Quiet Again, read Lead, Lemon Custard, Tie Rod. This race is filled with horses who have run at different tracks around the country and who are serious threats.

Tie Rod has won 9 of 31, Read Lead has hit the board in 11 of 13, Dumar won two races back at Fairgrounds in New Orleans and is trained by Steve Asmussen and Going Ballistic won a stakes races ar Remington Park in Oklahoma. It's a very good field with plenty of betting options.

Also on Sunday is the 300-yard West Texas Futurity, which features the very good First Class Lacy B, He's Too Icy for me and Decadencia.

Saturday also features a pair of races for New Mexico-bred 2-year-olds in the Copper Top Futurity for fillies and the Copper Top Futurity for colts and geldings.

In the fillies division, the clear cut favorite is Shamrock Girl, who is 2-for-2 in her career for trainer and owner David Wolochuk. Shamrock Girl will get Pat Valenzuela aboard. Another horse in that race to watch out for is Tin Can Kitty, who won her trial back on March 30 by four lengths for trainer Carlos Sedillo.

In the colts and geldings race, it's a bit more wide open. Todd Fincher trained Dodson is a serious threat, as is Red Rock Springs, Ting and Verny.

Post time both days is 12:55 p.m. The actual last day of the Sunland meet is Tuesday, April 20.

- Felix

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tim Meek

Area boxer Tim Meek will represent New Mexico at the National Golden Gloves in Little Rock, Ark., next month. Meek fights for the Las Cruces PAL and will fight at 165 pounds. He hails from Sunland Park.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Boxing column, April 10, 2010

By Felix Chavez
El Paso Times
EL PASO — While undefeated junior middleweight Austin Trout waits for his chance to fight the elite at 154 pounds, he is gaining some valuable experience in Youngstown, Ohio, training with middleweight king Kelly Pavlik.
Pavlik meets Sergio Martinez on April 17 in Atlantic City, N.J., in what is expected to be a hotly contested battle.
Trout has waited and waited for Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida to defend his World Boxing Association interim title against the No. 1 ranked Trout.
So instead of waiting for Ishida, Trout has gotten in some valuable work with Pavlik. Trout is a valuable resource for Pavlik because of his quickness, solid boxing skills and craftiness in the ring. If Pavlik is able to hold off Martinez, then part of the credit should go to Trout.
Spending time as a sparring partner with Pavlik is better for Trout in the long run. Instead of facing an opponent, who won’t offer much in terms of experience, Trout gets to go against a champion who has fought some of the world’s best middleweights.
Trout can use that experience in his first big fight whenever it might come.
On May 7 in El Paso, featherweight Antonio Escalante returns to the ring to put his 23-2 record on the against rugged Carlos Ricardo Rodriguez of Argentina and his 22-3 record.
Escalante is now in the top five of two of the governing bodies in the featherweight division and he hopes to land a title shot later this year.
You can’t say Escalante doesn’t fight the top guys. In his career at 122 and 126, he’s battled the likes of Cornelius Lock, Miguel Roman, Mike Oliver, David Martinez, Gary Stark Jr. and Mauricio Pastrana.
Escalante still has plenty to prove after his last fight with Roman, which turned out to be one of the top fights on ESPN2 this year and one of the better fights on any television for that matter.
Roman came with his best effort against Escalante back in February and gave Escalante all he wanted. Escalante responded with a solid effort, but he’s going to have to step it up a notch at featherweight.
Escalante deserves a title shot and hopefully gets one by the end of the year. With that being said, Escalante can build on his positives and improve on a few things.
The positives are his work ethic, punch output and solid overall offensive game. Escalante must continue to improve his defense and become less of target for the bigger and stronger featherweights. That means more head movement and taking better angles when he gets in the ring.
Escalante has come a long way in his young career and is certainly a fan favorite in the borderland and probably is a fan favorite of those watching his fights on TV. If Escalante can make some key improvements in the coming months, he’s got more than a fair chance of winning a world title.

Felix Chavez can be reached at; 546-6374

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Baseball/Softball Rankings, April 7

5A Baseball
1. Eldorado
2. La Cueva
3. Rio Rancho
4. Carlsbad
5. Onate
6. Mayfield
7. Hobbs
8. Cibola
9. Las Cruces
10. Sandia

5A Softball
1. Cibola
2. Las Cruces
3. La Cueva
4. Rio Rancho
5. Valley
6. Carlsbad
7. Mayfield
8. Sandia
9. Onate
10. Albuquerque, Eldorado

4A Softball
1. Piedra Vista
2. Volcano Vista
3. Silver
4. Artesia
5. Farmington

3A Baseball
1. Sandia Prep
2. Bloomfield
3. Cobre
4. Hope Christian
5. Robertson

Escalante returns to ring May 7

El Paso 122/126 pounder Antonio Escalante returns to the ring on May 7 at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso.
Escalante, who is 22-2 with four knockouts will face Argentina's Carlos Ricardo Rodriguez of Argentina. Rodriguez is 22-3. The fight will be aired live on ESPN2. There will be seven fights on the card.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pat Valenzuela column

Valenzuela still has hopes for big future
By Felix Chavez
El Paso Times
SUNLAND PARK — At 47, jockey Pat Valenzuela still looks fit and ready to ride even after multiple knee surgeries and other injuries in his long and glorious career.
In 1978, Valenzuela rode his first winner at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino and the rest was history. He went on to win many graded stakes races, including Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races.
Valenzuela has had his battles with substance abuse problems and is currently not allowed to ride in California, where he’d like to return once again to compete.
So instead of California, Valenzuela has taken refuge in Louisiana, and at least for a few days, here in New Mexico at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. He had a decent meet at the recently completed Fairgrounds meet in New Orleans, winning 30 races on just 199 mounts, far less mounts than other riders. Valenzuela also rode 32 horses to second-place showings and 25 to third-place finishes.
Since his arrival here in Southern New Mexico last week, he’s ridden a handful of winners including a talented 2-year-old named Shamrock Girl and been on the board a few other times. Valenzuela, who I met with early Saturday morning after a workout on a local horse for trainer Ben Torres, appears content in life and ready to ride like the professional he is.
Valenzuela is a terrific rider and perhaps most importantly he’s fearless and competitive, which might be the most important traits a successful jockey needs.
Confidence is synonymous with Valenzuela’s riding exploits. He carries himself well on the track, he looks prepared every time he is in a race and his horse at least has a fighting chance to hit the board.
It’s often a delicate balance for jockeys to stay both healthy and successful. Valenzuela is still competitive out there on the track and he still harbors dreams of winning a Kentucky Derby and returning to California to race full-time.
Valenzuela comes from a distinguished background of riding. He learned the sport from the likes of his father A.C. and uncle Milo. There is no denying that Valenzuela is one of horse racing’s top athletes in the sport referred to as the Sport of Kings and if given another chance to ride big time horses, he may still have another Triple Crown win left in him.
Valenzuela, who is engaging and well spoken off the track, is certainly worth the trip to the track even to watch for one race because he goes all out and he’s an elite athlete. He’s comparable to going to an NBA, NFL or MLB contest and watching the top athletes in those sports compete.
For now, Valenzuela has to stay busy in Louisiana and New Mexico and he seems ready to do that and do it well. He will ride some at Sunland Park until the meet ends April 20 and there is a chance he could ride at some point in Farmington, N.M.
Valenzuela said if he can stay healthy, he’d like to ride 10 more years.
For all that he’s accomplished, don’t be surprised to see him do just that and still fare well at a high level.

Felix Chavez can be reached at; (915) 546-6374

Saturday, April 3, 2010

NM All-Star Basketball Teams

Class A/2A Boys
Ryan Bustos McCurdy
Eric Caldwell Springer
Richard Chavez Cimarron
Tim Chee Navajo Pine
Pat Cordova Coronado
Jacob Flores Escalante
Leo Paul Pacheco Mora
Reggie Peralto Magdalena
Albert Roybal Penasco
Pedro Valdez Coronado
Jordan Easley Evangel Christian
Jared Herrera Questa

Scott Adler Mesilla Valley Christian
Jonathan Allison Bosque
Clint Barnard Melrose
Carson Carrillo Tularosa
Chet Chenault Floyd
Cody Correa Mesilla Valley Christian
Ryan Glenn Tatum
Logan Medlin Tatum
Ethan Shelley Cliff
Nolen Snyder Reserve
James Vigil Tularosa
Seth Bailey Texico

Class A/2A Girls
Carmen Gomez Dulce
Robbie Loretto Gallup Catholic
Myra Newkirk Des Moines
Kristin Neztsosie Navajo Pine
Julia Roberts Clovis Christian
Molly Rush Grady
Maria Sam Penasco
Jocelyn Swann Clovis Christian
Stephanie Velasquez Coronado
Crystal Martinez Mesa Vista
Nicole Hardy Magdalena
Jessica Burton Springer

Dellyn Chinana Jemez Valley
Jordan Dalton Capitan
Denika Flores Santa Rosa
Mariah Peralta Cliff
Renae Roybal Santa Rosa
Ashley Trujillo Clayton
Tori Varnell Dora
Tanna Whitecotton Floyd
Victoria Richards Texico
Sarah Tapia Santa Rosa
Kaitlin Luscombe Texico
Samantha Dunnahoo Hagermann

Class 4A/5A Boys
Luis Alvarado Espanola Valley
Lucas Archuleta Rio Rancho
Kevin Clauss Academy
Dylan Fritsch La Cueva
Dylan Houlihan Highland
Alex Kirk Los Alamos
Kyle Lantz Manzano
Michael Maya Valley
Michael Ortega Rio Grande
Gabriel Rodriguez Espanola Valley
Christian Sacoman Eldorado
Dillon Troncoso Gallup

Keydrick Allen Roswell
Jordan Lee Hobbs
Brandon Marinovich Hobbs
Mario Medradno Gadsden
Mark Olesinski Roswell
AJ Peralta Roswell
Shelby Reeves Hobbs
Luis Rodriguez Santa Teresa
Marcus Slocum Clovis
Josh Trujillo Mayfield
Logan Turnbow Clovis
Jeremiah Willis Mayfield

Class 4A/5A Girls
Korina Chapman Cibola
Paulette Coffey Gallup
Kya De Garmo Eldorado
Nisa Duran Espanola Valley
Olivia Harris Kirtland Central
Tyahnna Higgs La Cueva
Amanda Kerr Kirtland Central
Elisha Levingston St. Pius
Angel Reyes Valley
Ebony Walker Sandia
Taylor Ealey Los Alamos
Bernadette Sanchez Rio Grande

Lucinda Aguilar Silver
Shawntai Aguirre Silver
Justina Apodaca Mayfield
Andrea Aragon Las Cruces
Jade Brown Las Cruces
Jayde Burnell Hobbs
Shane Hillard Alamogordo
Candace Pollard Artesia
Andrea Reiff Onate
Devon Mulheron Las Cruces High
Antesha Brown Clovis
Katherine Cordova Clovis

West Texas Futurity qualifiers

Race finals to be run Sunday, April 18 at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino
Trials were held April 2
Hes Too Icy for Me 14.851
First Class Lacy B 14.868
Dash Back Queen 14.926
Finding Identity 14.966
Deacdencia 14.972
The Mentalist 14.976
Fast Moving Vic 14.980
No Dice Special 14.993
Jb Takeittothelimit 14.999
Rhinestonecowboy 15.000

Erik Morales

I finally got to watch the tape of former three-time world champion Erik Morales and his return bout last weekend in Mexico.
Morales, who is 33 and had been out of the ring for more than two years, won a hard-fought 12-round decision against Jose Alfaro of Nicaragua.

Morales was stepping up in weight and looked sharp at times. His defense was pretty good at times and he managed a fair offensive attack. He is not a natural welterweight and won't have much power at 147. And he's going to have to be in better shape if he stays at the weight.

But i was a bit surprised at how sharp Morales was considering the layoff, but again he is one of the best of our generation having beaten the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Marco Antonio Barrera and Junior Jones.

If any of you out there saw his fight I'd like to know what you thought.

- Felix