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Sing praises of Aria

TORONTO -- Jockey Jesse Campbell took Midnight Aria to the lead to start the $1-million Queen's Plate on Sunday and Mother Nature made sure he stayed there.

The 16-1 long shot went wire-to-wire to capture the first jewel of Canadian thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, holding off determined favourite Up With the Birds for a soggy half-length victory at Woodbine Racetrack. The race was run in light rain following a lengthy downpour that Campbell and winning trainer Nick Gonzalez agreed helped their cause.

"I would say so because the track does tend to get a little tighter," Campbell said following his first career Plate win. "I thought I was going a tick or two slower than what the fractions showed but that was because of the track.

"My horse was so comfortable out there."


Seguin claims innocence

DALLAS -- Recently acquired Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin says an anti-gay comment that showed up on his Twitter account came from "hackers."

The Stars said in a statement Sunday that they had "addressed the issue directly" with Seguin. The tweet showed up on his account Saturday and was quickly removed.

Seguin posted an apology on Twitter and said he was temporarily shutting down his account because of "repeated attempts by 'hackers' to try to damage my reputation."

The 21-year-old Seguin was traded to Dallas by Boston on Thursday, just days after Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli criticized the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft as needing to be a "better pro."

Dallas made the seven-player deal because it needs centres, and Seguin figures to be on the Stars' first line.


Sabres bolster defence

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres continued to revamp their defence by reacquiring Henrik Tallinder from the New Jersey Devils for prospect Riley Boychuk.

Tallinder spent the last three years with the Devils after spending parts of eight seasons with the Sabres. He entered the NHL as a second-round draft pick of the Sabres in 1997.

Tallinder, 34, played in just 25 games last year, posting one goal and three assists. He was a stalwart on the back end during Buffalo's playoff runs in 2006 and 2007 and became an on-ice mentor to Tyler Myers in 2009. Myers, 23, has struggled without Tallinder as a defensive partner.

"We are excited to have Henrik back in the mix on our blue line," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said in a statement. "His experience will be invaluable not only in adding more stability to our back end, but also in the development of some of our younger defencemen."

Boychuk was a seventh-round pick of Buffalo in 2010.

The Sabres have focused on defence in recent days, re-signing Alexander Sulzer to a one-year contract and signing Drew Bagnall to a two-way contract Saturday. Buffalo also selected two defencemen in the first round of the draft, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, and acquired former Carolina defenceman Jamie McBain in a trade during the draft for defenceman Andrej Sekera.


Ducks sign Beleskey

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks have signed left wing Matt Beleskey to a two-year contract extension through 2014-15.

He had eight goals, five assists and 56 penalty minutes in 42 games with Anaheim last season. The 25-year-old winger led the club in hits with 103 and was tied for seventh in goals.

He was selected in the fourth round of the 2006 NHL entry draft by the Ducks, and has 26 goals, 30 assists and 199 penalty minutes in 209 career games with them.


Pelletier joins Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks have signed left wing Pascal Pelletier, the club announced Sunday.

The 30-year-old played in 46 games last season with Langnau of the Swiss League where he had 19 goals and 35 points with 76 penalty minutes.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound forward has played in 13 career NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins.

He's played in 357 career AHL games, collected 283 points and 277 penalty minutes.

Pelletier was a member of Canada's 2012 Spengler Cup winning team.


Soccer squad humiliated

PASADENA, Calif. -- Fabrice Reuperne scored an injury time winner Sunday as tiny Martinique sent Canada to a shocking 1-0 defeat at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Canada, which had largely been outplayed for most of the game but was seconds away from escaping with a point, couldn't clear a Martinique corner kick in the dying seconds of the match. The ball fell to Reuperne, who unleashed a screaming shot past Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan in the first game of the tournament for both countries.

The crushing loss to a country with a population of just 400,000 that isn't even a FIFA member is the latest setback for a Canadian program that also failed to advance to final stage of World Cup qualifying for Brazil 2014.

After getting a few early chances on Sunday in front of the Martinique goal, Canada suddenly found itself on the back foot and looked completely out of sorts as the tiny island nation applied the pressure.


Canada makes FIVB finals

OSAKA, Japan -- Canada has advanced to the FIVB World League men's volleyball finals for the first time after a dramatic five set victory over Japan (25-23, 23-25, 25-27, 25-18, 15-7) in their last preliminary-round match.

It was a sixth consecutive win for the Canadians (8-2) and they will be one of six countries in Mar del Plata, Argentina, for the finals July 17-21.

"We reached our big goal for this season," said Canada's head coach Glenn Hoag. "It's easy to say but a lot harder to do. This is a big step for us. The guys worked hard and improved through the process. They never flinched under the pressure today. I was really impressed."

Dallas Soonias of Red Deer, Alta., led the Canadian attack with 24 points while Rudy Verhoeff of Calgary and Gord Perrin of Creston, B.C., added 18 each.

"The stress level was pretty high," said Canadian team captain Fred Winters. "When we fell behind 1-2 in sets we were aware that we could potentially squander our chance to be in the final. But we knew Japan couldn't keep that pace and in the end we got them."

The 24th FIVB World League, which offers $5.7 million in prize money, features 18 teams split into three pools of six that compete in a five-round, 10-match format.

The top two teams from Group A and B also advance to the six-team finals, along with host Argentina.


Kiwis sail to victory

SAN FRANCISCO -- The America's Cup challenger series got underway on San Francisco Bay on Sunday and Emirates Team New Zealand was clearly in control. Of course, it helped that there was no opponent.

The Kiwi catamaran sailed alone around the course to collect the first point of the regatta. The scheduled opponent, Italy's Luna Rossa, boycotted, saying it will not race until an international jury hears protests regarding rules changes made after Andrew "Bart" Simpson of Artemis Racing was killed in a capsize May 9.

Did it feel like a victory?

"No," skipper Dean Barker said, "For us, it's just another day of practice in terms of getting better for the knockout stages in August."


-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 8, 2013 C5

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