BIG MONEY UP FOR GRABS Last year, the winner, subsequent ‘Horse of the Year’ SEEKING MY DREAM, received a record $6.5 million, while lucrative purse money was paid to the first 10 past the post, an unprecedented move. In addition, a commemorative trophy valued at $500,000 donated by the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission will be won outright by the owner of the winner, while the winning trainer, jockey, breeder and groom will also receive trophies. The launch, though put on this early for a race scheduled to be run in December, attracted the top executives from related entities, including Cedric Stewart, CEO of Caymanas Track Limited; Paul Hoo, chairman of Supreme Ventures Limited and Gary Peart, chairman of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission who conceived the idea for the Diamond Mile in the summer of last year. In a brief address, Peart said: “The BG&LC is pleased to report on the highly successful inaugural staging of the Diamond Mile , held just seven weeks ago, on Saturday, December 5, 2015, exceeded all expectations. The main objectives of the event were to stimulate growth of the racing sector, to increase revenue for the Government of Jamaica and to attract new target groups to racing, thereby also creating a positive cultural shift for the racing community and I am happy to report we achieved all of that and more. “The record for the highest handle ($66 million) for any one race was broken, so too the record for the most money spent on any one race, despite the fact that the inaugural Diamond Mile was held against competing high-profile events. “The turnout was excellent and all guests enjoyed themselves thoroughly,” said Peart, who disclosed that plans are in the pipeline of creating a five-year plan for the Diamond Mile including a week-long festival of racing. – O.C. Two major changes have been made for the second running of the $13.9 million Diamond Mile to be run on Saturday, December 10 this year. This was announced at the recent launch by CTL’s racing secretary Denzil Miller Jr, following consultations with racing stakeholders and the organisers of the event, the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission and corporate sponsors, including Supreme Ventures Limited. The organisers were responding to concerns among owners and trainers that last year’s inaugural running on December 5 saw the omission of a number of good horses who, despite their form, did not have the requisite lifetime earnings to force their way in the field (first 16). These horses include the Caymanas Invitational Mile winner PHINEAS, Caribbean Sprint Champion POKER STAR, as well as CAMPESINO and the vastly improved filly LONG RUNNING TRAIN. This has prompted two major conditional changes going forward. First of these is that the winners of the Jamaica Derby, the Superstakes, Caribbean Sprint Championship and Invitational Mile will get automatic entry into the race. The second change is that instead of lifetime earnings, the other horses will earn their place based on their year-to-date earnings from January 1, 2016 to December 3. Earnings gained from claiming races will not be considered. This year the race will offer a record $13.9 million (US$115,000) which represents an increase over last year’s purse due mainly to the movement of the Jamaican dollar against the US dollar.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas 1 Arsenal will be forced to wait if they want to sign Iker Casillas because the Real Madrid goalkeeper wants to stay where he is.The Spanish giants have targeted Manchester United number one David de Gea as a replacement for their long-serving keeper, with Arsenal and Liverpool monitoring the situation while they consider changes at the back.And the pressure is mounting on the Spanish World Cup winner after his latest poor display in the club’s weekend draw with Valencia.The keeper, 33, appeared to shout back at fans who were abusing him and that has prompted further speculation over his future.But Casillas has told Madrid, Arsenal, Liverpool and anyone else interested in him moving on that he is determined to see out his Bernabeu contract which runs until 2017.
1 Alvaro Morata in action for Juventus Arsenal and Real Madrid target Alvaro Morata has insisted his focus is on Euro 2016 and not his future at Juventus.The Spaniard came off the bench to score the winner in Saturday’s Coppa Italia final against AC Milan to secure a historic consecutive league and cup double for the Old Lady.Real Madrid are expected to activate their buy-back option on Morata this summer, while Arsenal are also lining up a bid.But the 23-year-old has refused to discuss where he will be next season.“It’s not my last game of the season as I have to play in the Euros,” Morata told Rai Sport.“I have to make the most of my current form and not even think about the future.”
OTTAWA – An undercover FBI agent who helped convict two men of plotting to derail a passenger train in Canada did not see the arrests as a triumph, because he feared another extremist had eluded his grasp.In a new book published under his cover name from the operation, Tamer Elnoury reveals how gaining the confidence of the would-be rail saboteurs led to knowledge of an apparent al-Qaida sleeper terrorist in the United States.Elnoury is still haunted by the thought of the jihadi who got away.“Every time I hear about someone committing a terrorist act on U.S. soil, I wonder if that was the American sleeper,” he writes.“My biggest regret is that I couldn’t find him.”Elnoury is among the small number of highly valued, Arabic-speaking Muslim agents doing undercover counter-terrorism work for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.“American Radical” traces his involvement in the investigation that led to terrorism convictions and life sentences in 2015 for Chiheb Esseghaier, a Tunisian citizen doing doctoral research in Montreal, and Raed Jaser, a stateless Palestinian who had come to Toronto as a teenager with his family.Esseghaier “popped up on the FBI’s radar” after he made contact with some al-Qaida operatives online, Elnoury writes. The FBI alerted Canadian officials, who opened their own investigation. Esseghaier had travelled to Iran twice in two years, arousing concern he was there for terrorist training.Canadian intelligence tried to “bump” Esseghaier — stage a casual meeting that seemed random — during a 2011 conference in Mexico, the book says. “The Canadians didn’t have a Muslim, so they used a Peruvian Christian. Chiheb’s English wasn’t that good. The hope was a native Arabic speaker would have a better chance.”Elnoury posed as a globetrotting American real estate magnate who despised western ways and funnelled his profits to his overseas uncle, a financier for al-Qaida.In June 2012, Elnoury managed to ensure he and Esseghaier were seated together on a flight to California. They quickly became friends and Esseghaier was soon openly talking about shooting down planes with a portable missile launcher, the book says. Elnoury believes Esseghaier saw him as a like-minded ally with the money to help fund his operations.Early that September, Elnoury, who had become close to Esseghaier, was called to a meeting in New York. A senior Canadian Security Intelligence Service official had flown in to hear what Elnoury knew about Esseghaier’s plans to go fishing with someone.Elnoury scoffed at the notion the intense Tunisian would ever go fishing, and advised that Esseghaier “is here to hurt us.”CSIS learned the fishing trip turned out to be a mission with Jaser to scout a railway bridge they planned to sabotage, sending a train that travels from New York to Toronto hurtling into the river below, killing many passengers.The file, now a criminal matter, was handed to the RCMP and Elnoury was enlisted to gather evidence. He paid a visit to his friend in Montreal.Elnoury portrays Esseghaier as zealously devoted to the extremist cause, but also someone who had a crush on a female colleague and enjoyed eating lobster and stopping in at Tim Hortons.During a drive to Toronto to meet Jaser, Esseghaier confided details of the operation: al-Qaida planners in Iran ordered him to cut a hole in the train tracks. He and Jaser would use jackhammers to cut the track, while Elnoury would be needed to act as lookout.Esseghaier told Elnoury he emptied his bank account in the spring of 2011, buying a one-way ticket to Tehran and planning to drive to Afghanistan, where he would die in battle. But in Zahedan, a town in southeastern Iran, he was recruited by al-Qaida. He returned the next year for training and was briefed on the train plot.Esseghaier also said something that made Elnoury’s heart race: there was a “soldier” in the U.S., an al-Qaida sleeper agent known as Al-Amriki, the American. Esseghaier expected to meet him one day.“We needed to rethink the case,” Elnoury writes. “Chiheb was our only link to the American sleeper. There was no way we could arrest him before we identified the other sleeper.”Planning for the train attack continued. But Elnoury pressed Esseghaier about meeting the sleeper. A key Iranian contact finally agreed it would be a good idea, and invited Esseghaier and Elnoury for a talk in Dubai.Elnoury wanted to go, but he was skeptical the Canadians would let Esseghaier travel overseas at this point. In April 2013, Eric Holder, then U.S. attorney general, flew to Ottawa to discuss the Dubai idea, the book says.However, the RCMP executed arrest warrants, ending the operation.Elnoury understood the decision. The rail plot case was over. And just a week earlier, bombs had exploded at the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring hundreds.“Everyone was on edge,” he writes. “No one wanted to let a terrorist slip out of our grasp.”But mostly Elnoury was angry. “I felt like the Canadians and the FBI wasted all of our hard work.”Elnoury did not consider the arrests a victory. “Best case, we tied. But really you could say we failed,” he writes.“Chiheb was a lot of things, but he was never a liar. Personally, I have no doubt that there was an American sleeper.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter