Billionaire B. Thomas Golisano has signed an asset purchase agreement to buy the bankrupt NHL Buffalo Sabres, all but securing the team's future in Buffalo after eight months of uncertainty, a league source said yesterday.

Golisano now must seek final approval of the purchase from U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Buffalo. Golisano's offer is scheduled to be presented to Judge Michael Kaplan at 10 a.m. today.

The source, who is familiar with the negotiations and spoke on condition of anonymity, said more details will emerge this afternoon. Golisano has scheduled a news conference for 1:30 p.m. at HSBC Arena, the Sabres' home, said Laura Saxby-Lynch, his spokeswoman.

Details of the purchase offer were not immediately available, but it is expected to be worth more than $50 million, taking into account the team's projected $23 million in losses this season and a $22.9 million loan taken out on the construction of its arena. The Sabres also are estimated to owe $7 million to several unsecured creditors.

Pro Basketball

Artest Suspended Again

Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest was suspended, this time for one game without pay, for exceeding the maximum flagrant-foul penalty points.

The NBA has suspended him for nine games this season, and the Pacers have suspended him once. He loses about $21,000 in salary every time he's forced to sit out.

Artest drew his latest suspension for tackling Eric Snow during the Pacers' loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday night. The suspension was automatic because a flagrant foul was called.


Uecker Call Makes Hall

Bob Uecker finally made it to the front row -- in Cooperstown. The longtime Milwaukee Brewers announcer was picked for induction into the broadcasters' wing at the Hall of Fame. He parlayed humor about his career as a backup catcher into popularity far beyond baseball.

"When I got the call this morning, the first thing I thought was, 'Am I going to be in the regular ceremony or are they going to do something in December?' " Uecker said.

Uecker will receive the Ford C. Frick Award and will join former players Eddie Murray and Gary Carter, along with Dayton Daily News writer Hal McCoy, for the festivities on July 27. . . .

Commissioner Bud Selig all but ruled out participation of major leaguers in the 2004 Olympic Games, saying the sport cannot interrupt its season.

"The Olympic situation is quite difficult," Selig said at the World Congress of Sports in New York. "The ebb and flow of the game is critical, and we can't disturb that."

Horse Racing

Former Jockey Dies

Wayne Wright, a jockey in the 1930s and '40s who won all three legs of the Triple Crown, has died. He was 86.

He was admitted to a hospital's long-term care wing in Yerington, Nev., several days ago and never awoke from an afternoon nap Tuesday, family members said.

Wright rode Peace Chance to victory in the 1934 Belmont Stakes when he was 17. Eight years later, he won the Kentucky Derby aboard Shut Out. In 1945, he rode Polynesian to victory in the Preakness.


Dog Day for Norwegian

Robert Sorlie, a 45-year-old Norwegian firefighter, won the 1,150-mile Iditarod dog sled race across the Alaskan wilderness in his second attempt.

Sorlie, who completed the race in Nome early yesterday morning, averaged 6.53 miles per hour and covered the course in 9 days 15 hours 47 minutes and 36 seconds. His time was two hours slower than in 2002, when he placed eighth and earned the race's rookie of the year title.