TITLE : A Real Prince Owner
Who Comes From Royalty Has Impressive Stable of Fillies
AUTHOR : BILL CHRISTINE
DATE : November 4, 1997
COPYRIGHT : Los Angeles Times
In the Turf Club at Santa Anita the other day, Prince Ahmed Salman took out his wallet--it didn't appear to be bulging--and produced a snapshot. Three little girls. Triplets. Just over a year old. The prince beamed. Then he produced another snapshot. Another little girl, 5 years old. The prince beamed again.
"Is there an omen here?" Salman asked. "I have four daughters
and I am
running these good fillies in the Breeders' Cup."
The prince, a nephew of King Fahd and a member of the ruling
Saudi Arabia, is big on omens and superstition. The day before this
year's Kentucky Derby, he ran Sharp Cat in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill
Downs and she bore out in the stretch, prompting the stewards to
disqualify her, dropping her from third to eighth place.
"He gave an interview before that race," said his general
Richard Mulhall. "Then another time in Kentucky, he gave an interview and
he had bad luck. That was the end of the pre-race interviews. After a
race, he'll talk all you want."
Salman also doesn't want his picture taken in the paddock
race. His security people have been known to politely shoo photographers
"Why are you then giving this interview?" the prince was
day at Santa Anita.
"The Breeders' Cup is more than a week away," he said.
"But the closer
we get to the races, the more superstitious I will become."
If there's strength in numbers, bad luck will take the
Salman in the 14th Breeders' Cup. In a partnership with Richard Stephen,
the women's sportswear manufacturer from Manhattan Beach, Salman will be
running Jewel Princess in the Distaff on Saturday at Hollywood Park, and
the prince is running a filly he owns outright, Sharp Cat, in the same
Jewel Princess, winner of last year's Distaff at Woodbine,
Cat, who has won five stakes in California and one in New York this year,
will be coupled in the betting because of the overlapping ownership and
could go off the favorite.
Those are Salman's big guns, but his arsenal includes three
Saturday--Crafty Friend in the Sprint, Fantastic Fellow in the Mile and
Double Honor in the Juvenile.
Allen and Madeleine Paulson, who raced two-time horse-of-the-year
Cigar, will also have five Breeders' Cup starters, but few owners get to
the paddock that often in this event. The record, held by the late Gene
Klein, is seven horses--four in one race--when he came away with a win by
Success Express in the Juvenile at Hollywood 10 years ago.
Salman says that he doesn't care which of his Breeders'
wins, but his close associates know better.
"The one he'd really like to see win is Sharp Cat," said
joined the prince in 1994 after a 36-year training career in California.
"Sharp Cat is his baby."
Sharp Cat, a daughter of Storm Cat out of an Ack Ack mare,
was up for
auction at the Barretts sale of unraced 2-year-olds in Pomona in 1996.
Before the sale, Salman asked the opinion of Wayne Lukas, who hadn't
trained for the prince for several years. Lukas loved Sharp Cat. And he's
trained dozens of Storm Cat's offspring, among them Tabasco Cat, the
Preakness-Belmont winner in 1994.
"That filly [Sharp Cat] is the real goods," Lukas said.
"But she's not
going to be cheap."
Without blinking or sending home to Riyadh for his allowance,
bought Sharp Cat for $900,000, a record for a 2-year-old filly.
Minutes after the gavel dropped, Salman walked over to
stuffed the signed sales ticket into his breast pocket.
"She's yours," he said, and with that Lukas had picked
plutocrat for a client. Lukas has eight of the prince's horses in
training, and will saddle Double Honor and Fantastic Fellow, besides
Sharp Cat, on Saturday.
Jewel Princess and Crafty Friend will be sent over from
Asked Monday to describe Salman, Dollase said: "He's a comedian."
Indeed. At Santa Anita, Salman asked with the best deadpan
how much a
reporter was paying for his interview.
"I am 38 years old," he said. "But of course I will be
39 on Nov. 17.
But I would like to stay 38 for as long as I can."
Dollase remembers the morning at Hollywood Park when he
to work Jewel Princess and Crafty Friend.
"The workouts were set for 7:15, sharp, and everybody knew,"
"Richard Mulhall was there, another of the prince's representatives, from
Saudi Arabia, was there, but there was no prince."
Somebody made a phone call.
"I am on the way down to Del Mar," the prince said.
"Del Mar?" the caller said. "But the workouts are at Hollywood Park."
"In that case, I will not be able to be there in time,"
Finishing the story, Dollase did a charade of a man going to sleep.
At auctions for young horses, Salman is always alert. In
alone, he spent about $16 million in 1996. There's more to his
wherewithal than family oil. He runs a publishing empire that produces 19
newspapers and magazines and employs 3,000 people. Elle magazine in
Arabic will happen soon, the prince said, and he didn't seem to be
He holds a degree from UC Irvine and has been racing horses
California, off and on, since the early 1980s. He owns a small farm in
Bradbury and a 300-acre place in Saudi Arabia, employs 10 trainers
world-wide and won't say how many horses he owns. That superstition thing
His goals are to win the Kentucky Derby and the European
of his brothers, Fahd Salman, won the Epsom Derby with Generous in 1994.
For a time, Sharp Cat seemed destined for this year's Kentucky
But she ran sixth in the Santa Anita Derby, after a speed duel with
Silver Charm, who was second at Santa Anita, first at Churchill Downs.
Lukas, his large stable bereft of any good Kentucky Derby
year, wanted to run Sharp Cat.
"She wasn't good enough to win the Santa Anita Derby, so
considered the Kentucky Derby," Salman said. "It was all the media was
talking about it."
Told that reporters were only reflecting what Lukas was
"Yes, I suppose that was it. I should know how the media
works. I was
just letting Lukas talk."
Last Sunday at Santa Anita, Salman was seen leading Ryafan
winner's circle after she had won the Yellow Ribbon Stakes. Ryafan races
for her breeder, Juddmonte Farms, which is owned by Prince Khalid
Abdullah, Salman's uncle. Ryafan is a son of Lear Fan, who sired
"Lear Fan is the reason I am in racing," Salman said. "He
was a very
good miler, a Group I winner in France. I bought him for $60,000 and
later sold him for $2 million, plus keeping some breeding rights."
In Salman's colors, in the first Breeders' Cup ever run,
finished seventh in the Mile at Hollywood Park in 1984. Going into
Saturday's races, that's one omen the prince can do without.