Middle Eastern owners to miss Breeders' Cup races
NEW YORK -- The Middle Eastern owners of star horses such as Fantastic Light, Galileo, Aptitude and Officer probably will miss Saturday's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park.
They include the three Maktoum brothers of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Prince Ahmed Salman and Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
The men are major players in international horse racing and own a total of 19 starters in seven of the eight Breeders' Cup races.
Richard Mulhall, racing manager for Salman's Thoroughbred Corp., said the prince, who has an extensive publishing empire in Saudi Arabia, was unlikely to attend.
"He's trying to make some money to pay for the horses," Mulhall said with a laugh.
Sheik Mohammed al Maktoum and his brothers from the ruling family in Dubai have spent more than $1 billion on thoroughbred horses, much of it at sales in Kentucky.
"They are very busy in Dubai," said Saeed bin Suroor, who trains for the Maktoum brothers' Godolphin Racing Inc.
Breeders' Cup officials said Tuesday that Godolphin Racing will donate all of its Breeders' Cup winnings to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Charities-New York Heroes Foundation for the families of police officers, firefighters and emergency workers killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Goldophin has Imperial Gesture and Tempera in the Juvenile Fillies, the colts Essence of Dubai and Ibn al Haitham in the Juvenile, Express Tour in the Mile, Fantastic Light in the Turf, and Sakhee in the $4 million Classic.
The four races have a total purse of $9 million.
Imperial Gesture, Tempera, Essence of Dubai, Ibn al Haitham and Express Tour are based in the United States. Sakhee is the winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France, and Fantastic Light handed European 3-year-old star Galileo his first loss in the Irish Champion stakes.
Sheik Maktoum has four starters, including favored Lailani in the Filly & Mare Turf. His brother Hamdan has Turf contender Mutamam; another brother, Mohammed, has Spring Oak in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Ahmed Salman has three solid chances with two U.S.-trained fillies and a colt. Spain, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, will try to win a second straight Distaff. Habibti is a contender in the Juvenile Fillies and Officer is a big favorite in the Juvenile. Both are trained by Bob Baffert.
Khalid Abdullah, who races and breeds as Juddmonte Farm, owns Aptitude, the favorite in the Classic, and Distaff favorite Flute. Both U.S.-based horses are trained by Bobby Frankel. Abdullah also has Banks Hill in the Mile.