■ HORSE RACING
Flu forces cancellations
An outbreak of equine influenza has forced the Japan Racing Association (JRA) to cancel races today and tomorrow, local media reported. The JRA decided to cancel the races after 29 of 163 horses checked were determined to have contracted flu, the Nikkansports newspaper reported yesterday. It is the first time in 36 years that the JRA has canceled races due to horse flu. The previous cancellation lasted for about two months beginning late December 1971. A JRA official did not make clear when races will resume, only saying: "We would like to resume races as early as possible after the situation has settled." While it is contagious among horses, equine influenza cannot be caught by other animals and humans, the JRA said.
Former Canadiens GM dies
Nine-time Stanley Cup winner and former general manager of the Montreal Canadiens Sam Pollock died on Wednesday in Toronto. He was 81. Pollock spent 14 years as the Canadiens GM, beginning in 1964. "He was a hard worker, had a lot vision, of course, and was an excellent businessman," former Montreal coach Scotty Bowman told CBC television. During his NHL tenure, Pollock managed to pluck the first overall draft pick away from the Oakland Seals in 1971 in order to draft Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur and obtain goaltender Ken Dryden from the Boston Bruins for a pair of unspectacular prospects. He also acquired Frank Mahovlich and drafted Bob Gainey in addition to luring legendary coach Scotty Bowman away from the St. Louis Blues in 1971. Pollock also served in a variety of roles for the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team.
Giambi won't be disciplined
Jason Giambi won't be disciplined by Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig after the New York Yankees slugger had a "frank and candid" meeting with baseball's steroids investigator. Selig said on Wednesday that Giambi's cooperation with former US senator George Mitchell and the player's charitable work persuaded him not to take further action. "He's doing a lot of public-service work and I think that's terribly important," Selig said on the second and final day of an owners meeting. "He was, I thought, very frank and candid with senator Mitchell; at least that was the senator's conclusion. Given everything, this is an appropriate decision." Giambi has acknowledged a "personal history regarding steroids." He agreed to speak with Mitchell last month after Selig threatened to discipline him if he refused to cooperate. A former American League MVP, Giambi missed more than two months this season with torn tissue in his left foot. He's batting .270 with nine home runs in 51 games.
Disgraced ref apologizes
Disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy isn't saying much about the betting scandal that brought him down and rocked the league, but he is saying "sorry." ``I'm very sorry about what happened,'' Donaghy told the Daily News on Thursday outside his home in Bradenton, Florida. ``This is an ongoing case. I can't say anything else,'' he said. Donaghy pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn court on Wednesday to felony charges for taking cash payoffs from gamblers and betting on games he officiated. He was released on US$250,000 bond and is set to be sentenced Nov. 9.
Briatore set to takeover QPR
Flavio Briatore, who runs the Renault Formula One team, is set to become the new owner of English club Queens Park Rangers. "Mr Briatore wants to do for the club what Mohamed al-Fayed has done for Fulham and turn us into a Premier League club," Rangers chairman Gianni Paladini told the Sun newspaper yesterday. "It is a dream come true for all the fans and saves this club from liquidation." Billionaire Briatore, 57, will wipe out the club's debt of ?17 million (US$33.78 million) and invest an extra ?100 million over three years, the Sun reported. Championship side Rangers were last in the Premier League in 1996.