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Arrest in Stabbings of NYC Kids

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Police have arrested a 27-year-old man on parole for assault for allegedly stabbing two children in a Brooklyn elevator, killing one of them and critically injuring the other, a law enforcement official says. 

Daniel St. Hubert was arrested in the Ozone Park section of Queens shortly after police identified him as a suspect in the Brooklyn stabbings at a news conference Wednesday evening, according to the official.

Investigators had received a tip about a cell phone St. Hubert had that enabled them to track the phone's pings, the official said. That in part led police to start staking out a home of a known associate of St. Hubert.

He was carrying another kitchen knife with him when he was found, the official said.

It wasn't immediately known whether he had an attorney. 

St. Hubert was paroled on May 23 for domestic assault, and has a violent past that includes attacks on a corrections officer and a police officer, authorities said at a news conference Wednesday evening. Police say he's been arrested nine times in the past.

Law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York earlier Wednesday that police made a preliminary DNA match on the knife used in the attack on 6-year-old Prince Joshua Avitto and his 7-year-old playmate Mikayla Capers. The boy was killed in the brutal stabbing and the girl was critically injured. 

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton would only say that police had forensic evidence linking St. Hubert to the crime.

Investigators have said the attack appeared to be random, and may be linked to the deadly stabbing of a teen blocks away two days earlier.

The suspect attacked the children with a steak knife in the building on Schenck Avenue in East New York, police said. They were both stabbed in the torso, and were believed to be on their way to get frozen treats.

The little girl has a collapsed lung and is fighting for her life, her family said.

Dozens of officers have been assigned to the corner of Schenck and Stanley avenues in one of New York's most violent neighborhoods as part of the investigation. 

It does not appear St. Hubert is homeless, as Avitto's father originally believed

-- Andrew Siff, Marc Santia and Gus Rosendale contributed to this report. 

Military Plane Crashes In SoCal

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Military officials are investigating what caused a military plane to crash into homes in an Imperial Valley neighborhood about two hours southeast of San Diego County Wednesday.

The pilot safely ejected from the plane before it crashed, officials said, and no civilians on the ground were injured. Three homes were destroyed in the crash.

The American Red Cross told NBC News that 5 families have been displaced (a total of 22 people). The emergency organization also said chemicals at the site are being handled by military haz mat crews, who also put in a request with American Red Cross to talk to the affected families.

According to California Highway Patrol El Centro, the plane crashed in a residential area at Cross Road and Fonzie Avenue in Imperial, Calif., near the U.S.-Mexico border, about 115 miles from San Diego. One house caught fire as a result of the crash, and two additional homes were also impacted, CHP officials said.

Immediately after the incident, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar also confirmed via Twitter that the Harrier jet crash impacted civilian structures.

Eight homes were evacuated, according to Imperial County officials, MCAS Miramar confirmed. Again, none of those residents were harmed.

MCAS Miramar officials said the Third Marine Aircraft Wing AV-8B Harrier was stationed at MCAS Yuma and crashed around 4:20 p.m. The pilot was transported to a local hospital for evaluation. He sustained minor injuries but is expected to make a full recovery. Early Thursday, MCAS Miramar updated his condition via Twitter saying he had been released from the hospital and was "doing well."

MCAS Miramar 1st Lt. Jose Negrete said authorities were on scene collecting evidence and assessing the damage. An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the crash.

Patricia and Nestr Roblas live a few house down from the crash site and said the impact of the plane striking the area caused an explosion.

“I heard a large explosion, and it felt like an earthquake. My dad thought a car hit our house. It was just a loud explosion and I felt a jolt,” Patricia told NBC 7 San Diego. “It smelled really bad, like toxic fumes.”

Patricia said authorities came to their front door after the crash and told them to turn off their air conditioning unit so as not to let the fumes in.

Patricia said the ordeal was extremely frightening, to say the least.

“It was really scary. After they put the fires out, a few minutes later, we saw another huge fire so we didn’t know if there was an explosion because of gas or what,” she explained. “I was scared there would be more explosions and the fires would reach our house.”

Nestr said he was watching television when he heard an explosion. As he walked outside, he saw a "big, black wall of smoke" stemming from the crash site.

He said it felt as if he was watching a movie up close.

“If you’re watching a movie, [something like this] doesn’t look that scary but in real life you get freaked out," he said.

Imperial resident Cathie Blackburn lives about one mile from the site of the crash and told NBC 7 she heard a "loud boom" when the aircraft went down. The impact was so strong, Blackburn thought it may have been an earthquake.

Blackburn said some friends who live in the neighborhood saw the pilot eject.

She said the fire was put out quickly. As of 6:45 p.m., Blackburn said authorities were telling residents that streets in the surrounding area would be closed for the rest of the night as officials continue their investigation.

According to NBC News, this is the second crash in less than one month involving a Harrier jet from the MCAS Yuma base. On May 9, another crashed in a remote desert area near the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona during a routine training exercise.

In that case, the jet was destroyed and the pilot ejected safely as well. No one else was injured.

NBC 7 Coverage:

 



Photo Credit: KYMA 11 Facebook

Police Return Signs Stolen From Sandy Hook Playgrounds

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Two signs stolen from playgrounds dedicated to 7-year-old victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre are returning to the children’s families just days after the arrest of the man who allegedly took them.

Officers from the Herndon Police Department, the agency that arrested 28-year-old Andrew Truelove in Virginia on Friday, made the seven-hour drive to Stonington from just outside Washington, D.C. Wednesday afternoon.

They had the stolen signs in tow.

The signs, taken from Grace McDonnell’s memorial playground in Mystic and Chase Kowalski’s playground in New Jersey, were replaced shortly after they were stolen in May. The recovered signs will go to the McDonnell and Kowalski families.

“It was quite evident that the public here in Stonington, and I’m sure throughout the state, felt an emotional connection to this investigation,” said Stonington police Capt. Jerry Desmond.

Police tracked down Truelove after he emailed photos of the signs in his living room to Chez Pazienza, a reporter and blogger for The Daily Banter.

“I was really angry and I wanted to see this person go down for this,” Pazienza told NBC Connecticut on Friday. “I wasn’t just going to let it go.”

Police say Truelove denies that the deadly shootings ever took place. He’s behind bars in Virginia, charged with possession of stolen property.

Authorities are hopeful that returning these signs will help bring the focus back to the children to whom these playgrounds are dedicated.

“This is about Grace and Chase,” said Herndon police Lt. Jim Moore.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Rangers Lose to Kings in Stanley Cup Final

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The New York Rangers face the Los Angeles Kings for the Stanley Cup championship, the National Hockey League's most coveted prize.

Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images

Tilting Span of Delaware Highway Taken Off Google Maps

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One of the East Coast’s major interstate connectors has disappeared from the map -- literally.

Internet giant Google eliminated a portion of Interstate 495 in Delaware from its iPhone and Android map apps and online maps after a bridge along the highway was closed because it was tilting. The road which snakes along the Delaware River in Wilmington is used as a fast bypass of Interstate 95, the major East Coast artery.

Looking at the map Wednesday morning, I-495 ends at Exit 2 (Terminal Avenue) going northbound and Exit 3 (E 12th Street) going southbound leaving about a 1.5-mile gap on the map. (Google's satellite image continued to show the roadway.)

The highway nightmare was described by officials as a "Defcon 5" situation as crews warned motorists the tilting road will be closed indefinitely.

Officials closed the span, which carries an average of 90,000 vehicles around downtown Wilmington and to the Port of Wilmington, on Monday night after officials discovered the leaning. The worst of the four piers, support 12, is tilted 2 feet to the side, engineers found.

It’s not clear why Google decided to eliminate the highway on its map despite the roadway still standing. NBC10 contacted Google for comment.



Photo Credit: Google Maps

Couple Killed in Crash Route 6 at Windham-Chaplin Line

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Two Willimantic residents were killed in a crash on Route 6 on the Windham-Chaplin line on Thursday morning.

Married couple Norman Holland, 48, and Holly Holland, 44, were killed when their 1999 Ford Escort and a 1995 Ford Ranger collided at 6:46 a.m., according to state police.

Norman Holland was driving the Escort and tried to cross Route 6 when the crash happened in the area of 688 Boston Post Road, near Station Road.

The Hollands were pronounced dead at the scene, according to state police. 

The other driver has been identified as Michael Snow, 53, of Ellington.

The Hollands worked at UConn for more than a decade, according to an email UConn President Susan Herbst sent to employees and students notifying them of the the news on Thursday afternoon.

"They were regarded by their colleagues in Facilities Operations and Building Services as wonderful people and outstanding employees who always went above and beyond for our students, and our university," Herbst said in her letter. "It is always painful when we lose a member of the UConn family. To lose Norman and Holly together is beyond heartbreaking for their colleagues, and the university as a whole. All our hearts go out to their family, especially their three children."

UConn counselors and mental health services staff plan to be available as support for facility operations employees. Herbst said that the university plans to honor the Hollands on campus "when the time is right" and that information about a funeral or memorial service will be shared with students and faculty when it becomes available.

Police are investigating and ask anyone with information to call Troop K at 860-465-5400, extension 4094.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Special Ed Teacher Accused of Having Sex With Her Student

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A Northeast Philadelphia middle school teacher turned herself in on Wednesday after she allegedly had "consensual" sex with one of her special education students several times.

Stephanie Amato, an eighth grade special education teacher at Ethan Allen Elementary School, was arrested and charged after prosecutors accused her of carrying on a "consensual" sexual relationship with her student.

Investigators say one of Amato's 14-year-old male students told the school counselor that he had sex with Amato several times at her home and in her car between March and April of this year. School officials then contacted police.

Amato, 30, was immediately removed from the school pending the investigation and was not allowed to have contact with students. She has been suspended with pay.

Amato surrendered to Special Victims Unit detectives on Wednesday and was later arraigned on eight counts including unlawful sexual contact with a minor, child endangerment and indecent exposure. She left custody after posting 10 percent of $125,000 bail, according to court records.

Photos posted Tuesday on Amato's Facebook page show her smiling with a group of teenage boys in her car. NBC10 spoke with two of the teens in that photo who told us they believe she is innocent. 

A letter was also sent home to parents of students at the school alerting them of the situation.

Man Threatens Former Boss With Gun: Police

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A New Haven man was arrested yesterday after police said he threatened his former boss with a stolen gun at an auto shop in West Haven.

West Haven Police responded to Budget Transmission Auto Repair Shop at 950 Boston Post Road around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday to investigate a dispute between a former employee and the current manager, police said.

Police said the former employee, Jose Rodriguez, 32, of New Haven, was in the parking lot and returning to his vehicle when police arrived, and investigators learned that he might have pulled out a handgun during the argument. 

Officers detained Rodriguez, but he refused to surrender his gun, according to police.

Officers did find a handgun under the seat and said it was similar to the one witnesses described, police said.

The gun had been stolen during a burglary in Milford.

Rodriquez was charged with breach of peace, criminal possess of a pistol/revolver, illegal possession of a weapon in motor vehicle and illegal carry of a pistol without a permit.

He was held on $100,000 bond and is due in court in Milford on June 17.
 



Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Propane Leak at Platt Technical High

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A propane tank is leaking at Platt Technical High School in Milford and students have been moved to the section of the school away from the tank, according to the Milford fire and police departments.

Officials said there are no readings of propane in the school, which is located at 600 Orange Avenue.

The fire department is letting the gas empty from the tank.

Students will remain at the far section of the school until the propane issue is resolved.



Photo Credit: Monica Garske

Child Hospitalized After Falling from Window in Harwinton

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A 15-month-old girl was taken to Waterbury Hospital on Thursday morning after falling from a second-floor floor window of a Wake Robbin Lane home in Harwinton, police said.

Emergency crews responded to the home at 8:20 a.m. and the child was alert and crying in her mother's arms, according to officials from Harwinton Ambulance.

Lifestar was called because of the height the child fell from, but it was unable because of the rainy weather.

No information was available on the child's condition. 

Officials said the address is 104 Wake Robin Lane, which assessor's records say it is a two-story single-family home.




 



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Men Assaulted Victim While Trying to Steal His Guns: Cops

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Old Saybrook police have arrested two men accused of seriously injuring another man while trying to steal his guns.

When police responded to a report of an assault and robbery at 1:40 a.m. on Thursday, they learned that a 50-year-old man had been assaulted when he would not give up his firearms to people who were trying to steal them, police said.

The victim suffered serious injuries and was transported to the Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center.

Police started looking for the assailants and arrested them on Thursday morning.

Joshua Griswold, 18, of Old Saybrook, and Michael Lawhorn, 23, whose address is listed as a motel in Old Saybrook, were arrested and charged with robbery in the first degree, assault in the second degree, criminal attempt to steal a firearm, strangulation in the second degree, larceny in the sixth degree and conspiracy.

Police released mug shots of the men and Lawhorn has a quote scrawled across his chest that says, “Dream like you live forever.”

They are being held on $100,000 bond and are due in Middlesex Superior Court on June 6.



Photo Credit: Old Saybrook Police

Free Entrance to Connecticut Parks on Open House Day

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Some of Connecticut's parks are opening for free in a week for Connecticut Open House Day.

The Connecticut Office of Tourism's annual event highlights "arts, history and tourism offerings in the state," according to a news release from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which is spearheading the state parks' participation in Open House Day.

"Connecticut Open House Day is a great time to explore new places or visit your favorite spots in Connecticut with family and friends. Come and discover the many fun and educational opportunities at our state parks and state park museums,” DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen said in a statement. “As we continue celebrating the Centennial of our state parks system, we are encouraging residents and visitors alike to experience Connecticut’s 107 state parks and 32 state forests."

The following parks will offer free admission and activities on Connecticut Open House Day on June 14.

  • Dinosaur State Park, 400 West St., Rocky Hill: There will be free admission from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The park is offering crafts film showings, animal programs and, weather permitting, nature walks. Dinosaur Park has 2.5 miles of hiking trails, a picnic area, gardens  and a garden featuring plants dating back to the Mesozoic era. Radio Disney will be there from noon to 2 p.m. and there will also be "Dino-themed dances," a dinosaur trivia contest and "flying Pterodactyl relay races," according to the release. Families can also "strike a pose" to win a prize, the release stated. More information is available on www.ctdinotrail.com.
  • Fort Trumbull State Park, 90 Walbach St., New London: Admission is free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can walk along the fishing pier to look at the boats and see what types of fish people are catching, tour the visitor's center to learn about local history, visit the fort and "climb to the ramparts for a spectacular view of the Thames River," according to the news release.
  • Gillette Castle State Park, 67 River Rd., East Haddam: Admission is free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. William Gillette built the estate, which sits on 184 acres. The estate includes a 24-room mansion styled after a medieval castle and overlooking the Connecticut River.
  • Osborne Homestead Museum/Kellogg Environmental Center, 500 Hawthorne Ave., Derby: Admission to Frances Osborne Kellogg's home will be free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kellogg "was known for her contributions to conservation, agriculture and business," according to a news release. Beekeeper Michael Creighton is scheduled to do a presentation called "All About Bees: Our Great Pollinators" at the Kellogg Environmental Center at 10:30 a.m., also free of charge. There will be a honey tasting afterward.

More information on Connecticut state parks is available on DEEP's page on the state website at www.ct.gov/deep/recreation.



Photo Credit: Friends of Gillette Castle

Student's Fundraiser Saves Meatball the Dog

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A special fundraiser that a Clintonville Elementary School student in North Haven started helped save the life of a dog named Meatball.

"It makes me feel really good,” the student, Taya Stanley said.

Meatball was one of the many dogs waiting to be adopted at the Animal Haven Shelter in North Haven. In the meantime, Meatball also sat in need of surgery to both of his ears.

"He had a very bad infection that was from neglect, due to his previous owners," Animal Haven Coordinator, Michelle DeRosa said. "He needed the surgery because it would have gotten infected in his lower ear and he could have eventually ended up dying."

The shelter couldn’t afford the surgeries, so Stanley stepped in.

"First we did a sports day spirit day to help raise money, then we did a cutest pet contest and then a Meatball for Meatball fundraiser," said Stanley.

Stanley, along with her classmates raised $2,000 dollars for Meatball's surgery, saving the dog's life.

The money raised will help pay for Meatball's medications and help the other animals at Animal Haven.

"Such as a cat had come to us, who was severely abused so she has seizures due to abuse, so we will use that money for animals who are in need,” DeRosa said.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Woman Dies in New Britain Crash

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A 36-year-old woman died in a crash on Slater Road in New Britain Thursday and a male occupant is in critical condition.

Police responded to the crash site near the Candlewood Road intersection at 10:59 a.m. on Thursday. The Red Acura carrying the woman and a 25-year-old man was headed southbound when it crashed into a utility pole and then into a parked mail truck. It's not clear at this time which person was driving.

The woman was critically injured and later died. The man sustained severe injuries and is recovering at area hospital. Both parties are from New Britain, police said.

Slater Road in New Britain was closed for several hours between the DiLoreto Magnet Elementary School and Candlewood Lane.

Bus routes were impacted, according to police.

Police are not releasing the identities of the people in the car until the family is notified.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation and police have not made any arrests at this time.

Police ask anyone with information on the crash to call the New Britain Police Traffic Safety Bureau at 860-826-3070.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Power Outages Down from 13,000 to 2,100

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There were more than 13,000 power outages in the state on Thursday morning, but that number has been cut  to 2,100.

Officials from Connecticut Light & Power said the problem was a couple of lines coming down at two substations.

The outages started around 8:15 a.m. and crews are working as quickly as possible to restore power.

At the height of the outage, there were almost 7,100 power outages in East Lyme, which was more than 19 percent of the town, but that number is down to around 300 customers.

There are also more than 1,000 outages in Essex.

CL&P does not have an estimated time for when power will be completely restored.



Photo Credit: Matt Rascon

Police Respond to School Bomb Threat in Bristol

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Police are responding to Greene-Hills School in Bristol for a bomb threat.

The school is located at 718 Pine Street.

This is the eighth bomb threat at a school in Bristol. Connecticut in a week and half. 

More information will be posted once it is available.  



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Investigate Bridgeport Shooting

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Bridgeport Police Detectives are investigating a serious shooting near the corner of Beechwood Avenue and Norman Street around 11:30 a.m.

Police said they have a tentative identification on the victim, who is believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s.

Detectives are working to confirm who he is, so they have not released his name.

The victim appears to have been shot multiple times in the head and chest, but is expected to survive.

Connecticut Burgers Make Best 101 List

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You don't have to leave the state of Connecticut to have some of the best burgers in the United States of America.

We knew that, but so do the people at the Daily Meal.  The list of the 101 Best Burgers in America came out today and Louis' Lunch in New Haven made the list. The birthplace of the American hamburger came in at number 9.

The steamed cheeseburger at Ted's in Meriden came in at number 20. Daily Meal called Ted's cheeseburger an unusual and "unusually good burger."

The top burger on the Daily Meal list is the Luger Burger, at Peter Luger in Brooklyn, New York, while the cheeseburger with fried onions at White Hut, just over the border in West Springfield, Massachusetts, made number 98.

Burger connoisseur's know there are many good burger places in Connecticut. Here are some of them:

Harry's Place in Colchester, a viewer favorite, has been featured in Roadfood for the incredibly juicy burgers. They also call a Harry’s cheeseburger “fast food perfection.”

Harry’s is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and holds the distinct honor of being on the National Register of Historic places.  

Max Burger in West Hartford serves up everything from a classic burger, to a gourmet chicken burger or a veggie burger. Trust us, your taste buds will be very, very happy with this food outing. The Inside Out burger is delicious, but check out the full menu, including the specials. 

Max Burger
124 LaSalle Road, West Hartford
860-232-3300

Plan B Burger Bar is one of those places that you’ll keep going back to, time and time again. They pride themselves on the fresh beef burgers, but you can get just about any kind of burger you can imagine. The New Englander is made with lobster, smoked gouda, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato and corn spread.

There are several locations in the state:

Plan B Burger Bar

120 Hebron Ave., Glastonbury
860-430-9737

1638 Boston Post Road, Milford
203-713-8700

4 Railroad St., Simsbury
860-658-4474

230 Tresser Boulevard, Stamford
203-964-8353

138 Park Road, West Hartford
860-231-1199

Prime 16 in New Haven and Orange. In the past, viewers have lauded these burgers. Build your own or pick one of the specialties. You won't find a honey truffle burger on too many menus.

Shady Glen, in Manchester, is another viewer favorite. It's not uncommon for people who've had a Shady Glen cheeseburger to say it's the best -- ever. 

Corner Pug, West Hartford. If you’re heading out on national burger day with someone who, for some reason, does not share your burger love, head to the Corner Pug in West Hartford. You can indulge on a blackened Cajun burger or knife and fork Irish nacho burger while your dining partner has salad, steak, mac and cheese or chicken.

These are just some of the best places to go for burgers. There is no way to name them all. Let us know your picks by commenting below.

Louis’ Lunch
261-263 Crown Street in New Haven
(203) 562-5507

Ted's Restaurant
1046 Broad Street, Meriden
203-237-6660

43 Berlin Road, or Route 372, Cromwell

860-635-8337


 

Seven Ways to Fake Being a Racing Expert

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You're not a horse racing expert, but you can act like one for Saturday's historic Belmont Stakes.

All eyes, including many untrained ones, will be on California Chrome on Saturday as he tries to clinch the first Triple Crown victory in 36 years.

Don't know the first thing about horse racing? It doesn't matter. These seven tricks will help you get in on the spectacle as though you do.

1. Learn the lingo, and use it liberally.

You'll actually get to know something about racing later. For now, just pepper your comments with some jargon.

Before the race, check out race handicappers' predictions, check the tote board for the odds and watch the horses head from the paddock to their posts. Once the race begins, listen to the call, or the horses' running positions — but don't expect to have the foggiest idea what the caller is saying. (Don't worry, the race will only take a few minutes.)

A horse that's a closer runs his best later in a race, a stayer or router is good at running distances and a front-runner runs best at the head of the field. A horse is pinched back if it's held in close quarters, and if it's boxed in it's shut off or pocketed.

Horses' distances from each other in the stretch, or the last straight section of track, are measured by a head, e.g., the length of a horse's head. At the finish line, a photo finish is so close the finish-line camera has to figure out who won, and a dead heat is an exact tie. A horse finishes on the board if he's one of the first four to finish.

2. Know what's at stake, and tell everybody else.

You probably already know that only 11 horses have ever pulled off the feat of winning all three legs of the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

You might also know that since 1978, 11 have won the the first two legs only to flame out at Belmont. Two years ago, I'll Have Another won the first two legs only to scratch before making it onto track there.

There's a good reason the Belmont Stakes is called the "Test of the Champion." It's tough — very tough. Few competing horses have ever run its 1.5-mile length before, which can make the race hard to handicap, and yield some upsets.

So can rallies by great horses who got pocketed or pinched back in the Derby's more crowded field.

So can rallies by horses that ran in Louisville, then skipped out on the Preakness, giving them a crucial few weeks of rest before the Belmont. Any horse hoping for Triple Crown history must face some better-rested rivals, a fact with which California Chrome's co-owner Steve Coburn is none too pleased.

And plenty of would-be Triple Crown winners have had their hopes dashed by jockey error at Belmont, where jockeys' tactics play a bigger role. California Chrome's 42-year-old jockey Victor Espinoza and thousands of eager fans will hope he avoids the common mistake of moving too soon, or accelerating too early in the race.

3. Handicap the race yourself. (Remember that term?)

You can't feign some authority on horse racing without concocting a fervently held opinion on who will win at Belmont.

California Chrome is the Belmont-bound favorite. But among the handful of horses that could prove his top contenders for Belmont victory, experts say, are Wicked Strong, Commanding Curve, Ride on Curlin and Tonalist.

Wicked Strong was one of the favorites in the Kentucky Derby and finished fourth. As a New York-based horse, he has a home-track advantage — plus, as the Washington Post's Andrew Beyer notes, his lineage is filled with strong distance runners, which could boost his Belmont chances. He's also got the benefit of having skipped the Preakness.

Same goes for Commanding Curve, who will head to Belmont similarly refreshed. He finished second in the Derby after an incredible rally, something analyst and retired jockey Richard Migliore says could boost his Belmont chances.

Ride on Curlin also turned in strong finishes at the Derby as well as at the Preakness, where he came in second. Tonalist hasn’t competed in any of the Triple Crown races, but Migliore says his distance-oriented breeding has made him "the horse that everyone should fear."

4. Bet on it.

Nothing screams "I know what I'm doing!" like advising your friends on how to spend their money, right? Right — well, as long as your friends aren't big gamblers. In that case, pay close attention.

Use Colin Bertram's primer to get a handle on what horses' odds mean and what they don't. Remember, a horse's odds reflect not how likely it is to win but how heavily other people are betting or expected to bet on it to win.

Once you've picked your favorites from the field of Belmont contenders and decided what kind of bet you want to make, examine the morning-line odds, which predict what people will probably bet on each horse. (The odds will change once betting actually has begun.)

The first number tells you how much profit your bet will get you should you win, and the second tells you how much you must bet to get it. California Chrome's 3-5 odds at the time of writing mean you have to bet $5 in order to win $3 profit, so if you bet $10 and California Chrome won, you'd get back $16.

5. Trot down Memory Lane.

Recall those halcyon days of horse racing — you know, when the only other sports worth their salt were baseball and boxing, and when your parents hadn't even met yet.

The mechanics of horse racing have changed plenty over the decades. Wealthy dynastic families ruled breeding, not commercial breeders, and as a result, horses were bred for stamina. Today, they're bred for speed.

But most fundamentally, horse racing doesn't have nearly the fan base it did in its heyday, back before pro football, pro basketball, casinos and, well, the internet horned in on its popularity. At racing's zenith, the track was the automatic mecca for gamblers.

6. Honor the greats.

Now you get to the really fun part of exercising your newfound authority: Breathlessly regaling your friends with tales of great races of yore as though you were there.

Bloviate about Secretariat's astounding 1973 Triple Crown, which he won by an unheard-of margin of 31 lengths. As the victor crossed the finish, the runner-up couldn't even fit on the television screen.

Wonder what would have happened if Man o' War, ranked the 20th century's best by Blood-Horse magazine and The Associated Press, had ever run for the Triple Crown. It wasn't around yet when Man o' War raced in the early 20th century, though he did sire some Triple Crown horses.

Reminisce about Kelso, who ran in the early '60s until he was 9 years old. Now all the Belmont contenders are 3-year-olds, and most horses are retired soon after that age to stud duty, which is far more lucrative than racing. (That was impossible for Kelso, who was a gelding, or castrated horse.)

Wax poetic about legendary filly Ruffian — even Secretariat's trainer said she might be better than his most famous horse — whose career was cut tragically short by a broken leg at Belmont in 1975. (You can still pay your respects at her grave at Belmont.)

7. Get ambitious.

If you really want to boost your expert cred, do your homework, and stake out a controversial stance or two. Read up, and weigh in, on hot-button topics like horse breeding habits, nasal strips and the sport's undeniable decline in recent decades — and what could reverse it.

California Chrome's own co-owner Steve Coburn, for one, has grumbled that the growing numbers of Derby contenders that sit out the Preakness before returning for the Belmont have made Triple Crown wins all but impossible, and he wants the rules tweaked so that only colts that run the Preakness can compete at Belmont.

"I honestly believe that if the Triple Crown is not won this year by California Chrome, I will never see it in my lifetime, because there are people out there trying to upset the apple cart," he said. "They don't want a Triple Crown winner. They want a paycheck."

Indeed, the decades-long Triple Crown drought, and the sport's waning popularity, have encouraged talk of tinkering with the format and timing of the three key races, and not just among figures who have, quite literally, a horse in the race. Weigh in on what you think should be done, too.

But don't limit your expressions of your newfound expertise to such existential hand-wringing.

Try picking an underdog to root for Saturday, deeming California Chrome overrated. When you place your bet, try a superfecta, naming the top four horses in the order you expect them to place.

And whatever other stories you tell your friends, make sure to leave room for one still in the making: the first time you bluffed your way through Belmont.

Just wait until next year to tell it. By then, you might actually be an expert.

 

This story has been updated from an earlier version.



Photo Credit: AP

Crash Closes Route 302 in Bethel

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Bethel police have closed down a portion of Dodgingtown Road (Route 302) after a late afternoon crash that hospitalized a man on Thursday.

A car rolled over and hit a telephone pole, police said.

Route 302 is closed between Taylor Road and Wolfpits Road and will remain closed "for quite a while," police said, though the estimated closure time was no released.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

 

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