Play It Forward: Aug. 20-26 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

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Benoit photo
Chantal Sutherland and Game On Dude, riding here to victory in the Californian at Hollywood Park on June 2, won the 2011 Santa Anita Derby together as well (above). She’s also in this Del Mar photo shoot earlier this summer (below) for the San Diego lifestyle magazine Ranch & Coach.

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

Horse racing: Del Mar Pacific Classic, Sunday at 4:30 p.m., TVG:

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Chantal Sutherland with a whip in her hand can be a) quite intimidating, b) quite interesting or c) cause for punishment. All three happened happen for the person who holds the current Google-based title of “hottest female jockey,” as she was ordered to serve a four-day suspension by the British Horseracing Authority between Aug. 25-28 for excessive use of her whip on a horse while riding in a competition at Ascot, England, last week. But that punishment goes away as she’s asked to climb back on Game On Dude for the running of this $1 million race, granted a stay in her suspension as it’s being appealed. The 5-foot-2, 113-pound Sutherland famously took Bob Baffert’s Game On Dude to the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap victory at a 14-1 shot, making her the first female jock to win that race. The pair was second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and reunite for this signature Del Mar event. Richard’s Kid, the winner of the 2009 and 2010 Pacific Classic, is entered here, too, after suddenly being sold late last week and moving from Baffert’s barn to Doug O’Neill’s — but then O’Neill’s assistant, Leandro Mora, will handle the 7-year-old this week because O’Neill began a 40-day suspension handed down from the California Horse Racing Board on Sunday. Lots of strange stuff going on. Meanwhile, Acclamation, the six-year-old Eclipse Award winner and victor in the 2011 Pacific Classic, won’t be defending his title after coming up with a swollen left front ankle last week. “I’m sorry for Del Mar,” said trainer Don Johnston said. “He’s a very popular horse and he would have brought interest to the race and some people to the grandstand.”

MONDAY

MLB: Dodgers vs. San Francisco, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime, ESPN2:

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So here’s the deal with Clayton Kershaw’s grizzly look:
Since the 24-year-old has been sprouting facial hair — and calling it a full-grown beard would be generous — he’s won his last four starts, starting with a 4-0 complete-game victory at San Francisco on July 29. He’s given up six earned runs and struck out 29 in that span over 30 1/3 innings, a 1.78 ERA in that stretch, walking just four, and holding opponents to a .163 average.
With an 11-6 record and 2.90 ERA, Kershaw may not find the Giants’ lineup as hairy as usual when he pitches the opener, as the suspended Melky Cabrera is no where to be found, and his teammates try to pick up the offense left behind for someone hitting .346.
Madison Bumgarner (13-7, 2.97) faces Kershaw with almost equal stats, and perhaps knowing that Matt Kemp has gone 0-for-14 in his last series in Atlanta.
That reminds us: We really do miss Giants over-bearded reliever Brian Wilson.
Show up Tuesday (7:10 p.m., Channel 9, Joe Blanton vs. Tim Lincecum) and there’s a “I See You” Fernando Valenzuela bobblehead waiting to be taken. The series ends Wednesday (7:10 p.m., Channel 9, Chris Capuano vs. Matt Cain).

TUESDAY

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(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Bruce Springsteen performs next to the Green Monster at Fenway Park in Boston, last Tuesday.

MLB: Angels at Boston, 4:10 p.m., FSW:

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While the Red Sox were away last week, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band knocked out a couple of concerts at Fenway on his “Wrecking Ball” Tour. That may be a better description of how the Red Sox under Bobby Valentine have been performing, while looking for their glory days. Valentine’s daily reality show includes the Angels this week, struggling themselves to pick up ground in the AL wildcard race and actually raising questions again about Mike Scioscia’s leadership. The series continues Wednesday (4:10 p.m., FSW, Jered Weaver against Clay Buchholz) and Thursday (4:10 p.m., FSW).

WNBA: Sparks vs. Indiana, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.:

Get to know your 16-6 Sparks, again. Here’s the first of three in a row at home this week — where they’re 9-1 thus far — that includes matchups against San Antonio, winners of 11 straight (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.) and New York (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.)

WEDNESDAY

MLB: N.Y. Yankees at Chicago White Sox, 5 p.m., ESPN2:

Leaders of the AL East and Central split four games already. White Sox ace Chris Sale (14-4, 2.72) comes off a loss to Kansas City.

THURSDAY

MLB: Atlanta at San Francisco, 7:10 p.m.:

The Braves finish a three-game series the night before in Washington before taking a red-eye to make it the West Coast for this one. The Giants have only to go home from L.A.

FRIDAY

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(AP Photo/John Amis)
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley threw seven shutout innings at Atlanta on Sunday.

MLB: Dodgers vs. Miami, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:

More beard talk: Since Chad Billingsley (10-9, 3.44) started sporting one, he’s won a career-best six in a row. Prior to it, he had lost five in a row and had an ERA of 6.21. He’s set to throw against Saturday night (6:10 p.m., Prime) against Mark Buehrle. The Dodgers took two of three in Miami last weekend, capped by Chris Capuano’s 5-0, 10K shutout in the finale. Hanley Ramirez also celebrated his return to Marlinland by going 6-for-13 in the series with 5 RBIs and 2 runs scored. The series ends Sunday (1:05 p.m., Prime)

MLB: Angels at Detroit, 4:05 p.m., FSW:

The Angels continue to flounder around in the AL wildcard, trailing, among others, these Tigers. They were just in Detroit last month, losing three of four. The only success came with rookie Garrett Richards’ 13-0 shutout victory where he went seven innings of three-hit ball, reaching 100 pitches. The series goes Saturday (4:05 p.m., FSW) and Sunday (10:05 a.m., FSW).

SATURDAY

NASCAR Sprint Cup: Irwin Tools 500, Bristol, Tenn., 4 p.m., Channel 7:

Back again under the lights on the so-called “world’s fastest half-mile.” Brad Keselowski ended Kyle Bush’s two-Bristol race win streak a year ago.

SUNDAY

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Beach volleyball: Manhattan Beach Open, Sunday’s finals: Women, 2:15 p.m.; men, 4 p.m.:

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The afterglow of the U.S. beach volleyball medals won at the London Games may lead to some sandy celebration on the mainland, as the No. 2 men’s team of Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibbs are registered to compete for what’s been known as the Wimbledon of Beach Volleyball over the last half century. The two were with No. 1 men’s team Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser in a FIBA even in Poland, each reaching the semifinals. No word if Rogers-Dalhausser will get back in time to compete here. The women’s gold-medal team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings have officially split up; Walsh Jennings played in Poland with new teammate Nichole Branagh, while women’s silver-medalists Jen Kessy and April Ross were there, too. This classic is only offering a purse of $100,000, half of what sponsors put up a year ago, so not as big a pay day for the defending men’s champion John Hyden (of Sherman Oaks) and Sean Scott, or the women’s defending team of Jenny Kropp and Whitney Pavlik (that’s them above). The men’s side is also expected to include veteran Mike Lambert teaming up with Jesse Rambis, son of former Laker Kurt Rambis. Qualifying begins Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), with main-draw action on Saturday (9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.). The final eliminations start Sunday at 8 a.m. The annual Manhattan Beach Pier plaque ceremony is Friday at 2 p.m. More info: josecuervoprobeachvolleyballseries.com.

Little League Baseball: World Series final, noon, Channel 7:

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We just had a flashback to the very early ’70s, when we had one of those old-school GAF Viewmasters, and among the disks we had of national parks, moon landings and episodes of “Flipper,” we got ahold of one with ABC’s Little League World Series highlights. It seemed to 3D real. Now, we just have to rely on high-def TV to deliver the goods from Williamsport, Pa. Here’s where the U.S. champ meets the International champ. A team from California has won two of the last three titles and seven overall since this started in 1947, and Petaluma remains alive despite a loss Sunday, on the edge of eliminination with a game Monday. ABC also has Saturday’s International title game (9:30 a.m.) followed by the U.S. title game (12:30 p.m.).

MLS: Galaxy vs. FC Dallas, Home Depot Center, 4 p.m., NBC Sports Network:

The Galaxy will have played Isidro Metapan in the CONCACAF Champions League match on Wednesday at home, and then are required to play host to the Puerto Rico Islanders on Aug. 29 after this MLS contest against Dallas. With a record thus far of 11-11-4, and holding the last spot in the top five of the Western Conference, at least they’re not sitting where Dallas is — 7-11-8, and eight points behind the Galaxy, who hold a 1-0-1 edge over Dallas in matches his year.

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IndyCar: Grand Prix of Sonoma County, 1 p.m., NBC Sports Network:

Series leader Will Power has said that changes made in the 2.31-mile course will “definitely promote more passing,” in Turn 7, which has been reshaped into a hairpin U-turn. Do that for 85 laps and see how it goes.

NFL exhibitions: San Francisco at Denver, 1 p.m., Channel 11; Detroit at Oakland, 1 p.m., Channel 5; Carolina at N.Y. Jets, 5 p.m., Channel 4:

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Jets coach Rex Ryan says his staters will probably play about three quarters in this one, and then sit it out until the real season starts. That’s going to help the Jets figure out how to score a touchdown, which they haven’t done in eight exhibition quarters to date? “It’s the second preseason game,” Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said after Saturday’s 26-3 loss to the Giants. “It’s not time to hit the panic button. You have to improve and learn from this stuff. I know we can do it.” Adds Tim Tebow: “We haven’t even played a real game. When the regular season gets here, then that’s when it’s for real. We’ve got to continue to show improvement and get better every day.”

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