OPINION | WALLY HALL: Mage put on solid performance at Derby

There were some really smart bettors Saturday for the Kentucky Derby.

Mage, No. 8 in the program, qualified for non-winners of two races. His only win was when he broke his maiden in January. He had never raced anywhere but Gulfstream Park.

After a Wednesday gallop in which he took went each quarter faster than the one before and came back to breathing normal, he was made the 15-1 fifth favorite in the official morning line.

And that was the price the smart gamblers got on him as he took advantage of really fast early fractions -- something he had seen in two of his three previous races -- and had plenty of kick down the stretch.

By all accounts, he was fine, hungry and ready to run Sunday morning.

There were no guarantees he will run in the Preakness, but there will be pressure to keep the Triple Crown in the spotlight, although trainers seem to think less of that title each year and relish playing the spoiler role.

Out of 17 starters for the Derby, a handful are expected to try the Preakness with several opting out to give their mounts more time to rest for the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes.

Probably the biggest question in racing today is when will Forte be ready to run.

Forte was the pre-race favorite before being scratched Saturday morning because of bruised hoof.

Forte was the 2-year-old champion and had beaten Mage twice already, but the last time was in the Florida Derby and Mage almost got away with the win before Forte made a late charge to win by a length.

Mage does appear to be an improving horse and if anyone was curious about his bloodline he was sired by Good Magic, who had a short but illustrious career hitting the board in seven of his nine starts and winning three and his daddy was the great Curlin.


Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia wasted no time in going to social media to say he did not think Nikola Jokic should be fined or suspended for what happened between them during Sunday night's game.

Jokic knocked Ishbia down with a well-placed elbow over a squabble for the ball that had gone out of bounds.

A fan was ejected for touching Jokic.

Jokic was assessed a technical foul.

The biggest question might be what was Ishbia doing sitting on the baseline and not on the sideline or in his private suite.

The billionaire was on the front row, but it was in the corner on the baseline.

Ishbia, CEO and chairman of the board, bought the Suns last year for $4 billion.

After the incident Ishbia was seen smiling and assuring everyone he was okay.

One can only wonder how Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would have reacted.


This is the season for guessing for those who cover college football and basketball, and one of the favorite subjects is who is the best returning quarterback in college football.

No one ever mentions KJ Jefferson, Arkansas' quarterback, and while he may not be the best going into the season, it is going to be interesting to see how much he has developed under Dan Enos, who helped Tua Tagolovailoa win the Heisman Trophy at Alabama.

The last two seasons for the Razorbacks, Jefferson has started unless he was injured.

In that time he has completed 402 of 594 passes for 5,324 yards. He's thrown 45 touchdown passes with only nine picks.

The 6-3, 245 Jefferson has also rushed 304 times for 1,304 yards and 15 touchdowns.

That may not get you in debate for best returning quarterback, but it is one of the positions that Sam Pittman is not worried about.