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Oct 27, 2006

Maktoum Family and the Breeders’ Cup


Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - With marquee horses like Bernardini, Henny Hughes and Invasor being prepared for the $20 million Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the far-flung racing operations of the Dubai royal family, the Maktoums, have received a great deal of media attention this year.

A Dubai presence in the Breeders’ Cup is hardly something new, though. Horses owned by members of the Maktoum family have competed in 20 of the first 22 editions of the championship event. The only years without a Maktoum horse were the inaugural running in 1984 and in 1992.

Taken in total, members of the Maktoum have had ownership interests in a total of 83 Breeders’ Cup starters through last year’s renewal at Belmont Park. The record for one individual owner is 43 starters from Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms.

This year, a total of eight horses with connections to Dubai were pre-entered: Henny Hughes and Dubai Escapade in the Sprint; Librettist and Echo of Light in the Mile; Balletto in the Distaff; and Bernardini, Invasor and Discreet Cat in the Classic. Dubai Escapade was withdrawn on Tuesday due to swelling in an ankle and Discreet Cat was not entered in the Classic on Wednesday, leaving just six at entry time.

Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, now the prime minister and ruler of Dubai, and his brothers Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum and Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, all had their first Breeders’ Cup starters in 1985 at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York.

Sheikh Mohammed’s filly Pebbles captured the second running of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, holding off Strawberry Road II by a neck. She subsequently was voted the Eclipse Award as the champion turf female. Since Pebbles’ victory, Sheikh Mohammed has been the sole or part owner of six other Breeders’ Cup winners, In the Wings, Turf, 1990; Arazi, Juvenile, 1991; Barathea, Mile, 1994; Daylami, Turf, 1999; Fantastic Light, Turf, 2001; Tempera, Juvenile Fillies, 2001.

Sheikh Mohammed watched his first Thoroughbred race in England and purchased his first racing prospect - four-time stakes winner Hatta - in 1976. By 1985, Sheikh Mohammed was the leading owner in England. Sheikh Maktoum, who died earlier this year, and Sheikh Hamdan also developed prominent international racing stables. Their brother, Sheikh Ahmed, also has had racing interests through the years.

As a result of the Maktoum’s deep involvement in racing, a state-of-the-art racetrack, Nad al Sheba, was developed in Dubai. It is a base of training operations and the home of the Dubai World Cup.

Sheikh Rashid, a son of Sheikh Mohammed, competes under the name of Zabeel Racing International and owns Henny Hughes, the likely favorite in the Sprint. Henny Hughes will be Sheikh Rashid’s second Breeders’ Cup starter. The first was Susu, who finished 12th in the Mile in 1999.

Sheikh Mohammed owns and races as Darley Stable. He has had 21 Breeders’ Cup starters in his name alone. This year, the Darley-bred and -owned Bernardini has won the Preakness, the Jim Dandy, the Travers and the Jockey Club Gold Cup and arrives as the favorite in the Classic.

Sheikh Hamdan, who has been the leading owner in England four times, competes as Shadwell Stable. He has had four Breeders’ Cup starters; this year, he is scheduled to start Invasor in the Classic. Sheikh Maktoum had 20 Breeders’ Cup starters, including Hatoof, who was second in the 1994 Turf.

In addition to their individual breeding and racing stables, the Maktoum family also operates the international stable, Godolphin Racing, which has become a powerful presence at the Breeders’ Cup. Godolphin has had 33 starters in the Breeders’ Cup, including a record eight in one year in 2001. Godolphin’s winners are Daylami, Fantastic Light and Tempera. Pre-entered in the Godolphin name this year were Discreet Cat in the Classic, Librettist and Echo of Light in the Mile.

(Courtesy of

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