Archives for June 25, 2019

To Churchill via Afghanistan, horse trainer Mark Simms followed his dream

For Simms, the path to the Winner’s Circle at Churchill Downs had gone through various states and countries, through countless predawn drives chasing a dream in his spare time and through, of all places, Afghanistan.

“I really do thank the Lord every morning,” Simms said. “I’m training racehorses. I’m living the dream.”

His alarm clock goes off at 3:30 a.m., with long days facing even longer odds in trying to break into a tough business.

Simms, who recently turned 30, went out on his own in 2017 as a trainer. That move was after a stint assisting Churchill-based trainer Dale Romans that began when Simms was enlisted in the U.S. Army.

He was a soldier, part of a military family, joining ROTC in high school in Virginia and the Army out of college, being stationed all over the place. But even then, it was always about horses. His grandfather, a horse trainer himself, would always tell a story of how Simms learned to walk in a horse barn. Simms grew up on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indian Reservation in North Dakota, which had a racetrack, Chippewa Downs.

“As long as I can remember,” Simms said, “all I’ve really wanted to do was train racehorses. … They get in your blood, and it’s really hard to shake them.”

While stationed in Korea at one point, Simms would go to a racetrack on the weekends with a Korean soldier who could translate the program, and they’d figure out horses on which to bet…

Wimbledon 2019: A Look at the Men’s Singles Favourites

The pinnacle of the tennis season, not least the grass court season, is almost upon us – Wimbledon. The penultimate Grand Slam begins next month at the world-famous All England Lawn Club in SW19 and in readiness for the tournament beginning, we take a look at the favourites to win the men’s singles title. But in the meantime, check out all the latest Wimbledon men’s odds online.

Novak Djokovic

Reigning champion and world number 1, Novak Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite for the men’s singles title again this year. The Serbian has four Wimbledon titles to his name and overcame South African Kevin Anderson in last year’s final, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(7-3). He previously enjoyed back-to-back wins in Wimbledon finals against Roger Federer in 2014 and 2015.

This season, Djokovic has won the Australian Open, which in turn, saw him win his fifteenth Grand Slam title; and he was also successful at the Madrid Open, beating eighth-seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4.

Rodger FedererRoger Federer

He holds both the records for the most Grand Slam titles (20) and the all-time record of eight Wimbledon titles, so there’s little doubting Roger Federer’s ability to go all the way again.

In the Open Era, he shares the record with Björn Borg for winning five consecutive Wimbledon titles. His first came in 2003, while more recently, Federer won his eighth Wimbledon title in 2017, when he defeated Marin Čilić in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.

The former world number 1 is currently number 3 in the ATP rankings, having retired in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open and lost out at the same stage of the Madrid Open in his return to clay after three years out.

Rafael Nadal

He may sit behind Roger Federer with 18 Grand Slam titles to his name, but the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, has only won Wimbledon twice. The world number 2 first won the tournament in 2008, defeating the Swiss ace in five sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5-7), 6-7(8-10), 9-7; before winning for the second time in 2010, beating the Czech Republic’s Tomáš Berdych, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

This year, Nadal came runner-up in the Australian Open (a Grand Slam he’s only one once, in 2009); while a string of semi-final defeats in a number of ATP 1000 masters finally culminated in victory, when he won the Rome masters last month. More recently he added to his Grand Slam tally, by winning the French Open for the twelfth time.

Alexander Zverev

He’s the second-youngest player in the ATP top 10 and is certainly one to watch for the future, with 10 career titles to his name already. However, 22-year-old Alexander Zverev, has yet to make a lasting impression on the big stage. At Wimbledon, his best finish to date has been making the fourth round (2017).

Last year he made the quarter-finals of the French Open, losing to eventual runner-up Dominic Thiem in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1. However, the German has previously overcome the odds and tough opposition. Only last year, he beat Djokovic in the ATP finals, while he previously beat the Serb in 2017’s Italian Open and in the same year, beat his idol, Federer in the Canadian Open.