He’s accused of kidnapping, but Sheikh Mohammed won’t be banned from Kentucky race tracks

Janet Patton
April 19, 2019, Lexington Herald-Leader

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein were in the paddock before the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2, 2009.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will not bar Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum or his filly from the Kentucky Oaks.

A complaint was filed earlier in the week by human rights advocates Samuel A. Marcosson of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville and Lisa Bloom of The Bloom Firm of Woodland Hills, Calif., asked the commission to suspend Sheikh Mohammed “from any involvement with Kentucky horse racing, including a bar from having any horse in which he has an ownership interest entered in a race at any Kentucky racetrack, until such as time as Princess Latifa is released.”

The sheikh, who is the ruler of Dubai and vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, is accused kidnapping his daughter, Princess Latifa, 33, off a yacht as she attempted to escape Dubai. The princess has not been seen publicly since, although her family says she is at home and safe.

The story received international press attention but no charges have been filed against Sheikh Mohammed.

Racing commission attorney John L. Forgy, in a response, said that “although the Commission takes allegations of criminal conduct very seriously, all you have offered in support of your allegations are media reports. The Commission may not deny or suspend a license based on mere allegations of criminal conduct.”

Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stable races Flor de La Mer, currently ranked 14th on the leaderboard for the May 3 Kentucky Oaks.

Godolphin also owns major Thoroughbred breeding operations in Central Kentucky, including Jonabell Farm and Gainsborough Farm.