Horse racing

California Chrome is ‘fine’

Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome has a small blister in his throat but is reported to be “fine” as he prepares to run in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore.

California Chrome reportedly coughed “about four times” Thursday after galloping, according to Alexis Garske, spokeswoman for Sherman Racing. Trainer Art Sherman and his son and assistant, Alan, had a veterinarian check California Chrome and draw blood, and the blood work came back “100 percent clear,” with no infection present, Garske said.

The small blister is being treated with glycerin throat wash and is not expected to affect his preparation or performance in the Preakness, where he is the 3-5 morning-line favorite.

Heavy rain is predicted for the Baltimore area Friday, which could play havoc with the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Tennis

Nadal to face Murray

Rafael Nadal of Spain was pushed to three sets for the second consecutive match before ultimately prevailing to set up an Italian Open quarterfinal against Andy Murray of Britain.

The top-ranked Nadal dropped behind a set and a break against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, then took 11 of the final 12 games to win 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1 on another windy day in Rome.

Murray eliminated Jurgen Melzer of Austria 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 to celebrate his 27th birthday, and Novak Djokovic of Serbia fell behind 4-0 in the opening set before rallying for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

On the women’s side, Maria Sharapova’s 12-match winning streak — which included titles in Stuttgart and Madrid — ended with a 6-1, 6-4 loss to Ana Ivanovic of Serbia. Defending champion Serena Williams cruised past fellow American Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 6-2.

WNBA

GMs pick Lynx to win

WNBA general managers are predicting the Minnesota Lynx will repeat as champions and Los Angeles’ Candace Parker was the top choice to earn the MVP award for a second straight year.

The WNBA’s 18th season begins Friday with five games.

Auto racing

Hinchcliffe cleared

James Hinchcliffe was cleared to drive by IndyCar’s medical team after a concussion Saturday in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

He passed the post-concussion tests and should be all set to qualify this weekend for the Indianapolis 500. He couldn’t wait another day, hopping in the No. 27 Honda with two minutes left in practice to turn his first lap of the month on the oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Standing starts continue

IndyCar is standing pat with standing starts. President of competition Derrick Walker said there are no plans to ditch the much-maligned starts that have been problematic for the series since last season. However, he knows the series has troubles with the starts that need to be addressed before the next one in June.

The inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis got off to an inauspicious start Saturday when pole-sitter Sebastian Saavedra stalled, triggering a violent wreck.

An antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA took a new twist when former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and 19 other former athletes gave up their claim to individual monetary damages, just weeks before the case is scheduled to go to trial.

An attorney for the plaintiffs said the move was made so the focus would be on the NCAA in the trial, and not on money sought by the former players. Michael Hausfeld said it simplifies the case by avoiding having a jury try to figure out which players were harmed and whether they should be compensated for that harm.

NCAA lawyers objected.

If the case goes forward without individual damage claims, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken would issue a trial verdict on the antitrust issues without a jury.

ELSEWHERE

• American Taylor Phinney raced to a 12-second victory in 100-degree heat in the fifth stage of the Tour of California in Santa Barbara, and Britain’s Bradley Wiggins retained the overall lead.

• Overall leader Michael Matthews of Australia claimed his first individual victory on the sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia in Montecassino, but the race was marred by a crash which forced overall contender Joaquim Rodriguez and two Katusha teammates to withdraw.

• Retired tennis star James Blake said he didn’t know the family who died last week in the Florida home they were renting from him.

• Buffalo Sabres center Zenon Konopka accepted responsibility for testing positive for a banned substance that led to the NHL’s decision to suspend him for 20 games.

Cody Hodgson had a hat trick and Matt Read scored twice to lead Canada’s 6-1 rout of Denmark at the ice hockey world championship in Minsk, Belarus. Defending champ Sweden edged France 2-1, Finland downed Belarus 2-0 and the United States suffered a second straight loss, 6-5 to Latvia.

Seattle Times news services