Could the leader of Dubai be banned from the Kentucky Derby?
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has a horse running in the Oaks, and a possible Derby contender. But accusations the ruler is holding his daughter hostage have caught the attention of a group of human rights attorneys and they want the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to take action.
As first reported by WFPL, University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson and California civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom have filed a complaint to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to ban Sheikh Mohammed, his staff and his horses from Oaks and Derby.
In a YouTube video posted in March 2018, Dubai’s Princess Latifa described a life of oppression.
“There is no justice here, especially if you’re a female — your life is so disposable,” she said.
At 33-years-old, she said attempts to gain control of her own life led to horrific torture sessions orchestrated by her father.
She warned: “If you’re watching this video, it’s not such a good thing. Either I’m dead or in a very, very, very bad situation.”
The video was recorded shortly before her failed escape attempt.
Seeking political asylum in the United States, she tried to escape by taking a U.S. ship to international waters. But she was captured and hasn’t been heard from since.
It’s believed her father is holding her hostage.
Irina Strelkova and Alexa Elder are two of the UofL law students who worked on the complaint.
“Conduct like that simply has no place to be associated with the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Strelkova said. “Our state is entirely too good for that.”
Sheikh Mohammed operates two horse racing farms in Kentucky and 10 of his horses have raced in the Derby.
“When I learned there was this connection in our very state to a woman who is really going through these things that definitely made me want to get more involved,” Elder said.
The commission has the authority to discipline those showing undesirable behavior, even if its unrelated to the sport.
“We don’t want him permanently banned forever,” Elder said. “We want him to release his daughter. And once he does, we would love for him to participate in the industry.”
The commission has not yet responded to the complaint.