Commission Will Not Ban Sheikh Mohammed, Essential Quality From Kentucky Derby - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Commission Will Not Ban Sheikh Mohammed, Essential Quality From Kentucky Derby

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced late Thursday that Sheikh Mohammed and his morning line favorite for the 147th Kentucky Derby, Essential Quality, will not be sanctioned over findings of human rights abuses by a British High Court, because “the complaint does not articulate a violation of KHRC regulations,” according to the New York Times.

Earlier this week, human rights attorneys filed a formal complaint with the KHRC, asking the state agency to ban Sheikh Mohammed and his runner from the Kentucky Derby. The attorneys claim Sheikh Mohammed is guilty of human rights abuses in the cases of two of his adult daughters who allegedly tried to leave his household and were forcibly returned to Dubai.

In 2019, Sheikh Mohammed's wife Princess Haya fled Dubai with her two children and sought a divorce through a British High Court. Court proceedings, which Sheikh Mohammed attempted to keep out of the public record, determined in 2020 that the ruler of Dubai had indeed kidnapped his two daughters and also that he “conducted a sustained campaign of fear, intimidation and harassment” of Princess Haya, who was granted a divorce.

The same legal team, which includes the University of Louisville Human Rights Advocacy Project, filed a similar complaint last year but was denied since it was based on media reports rather than findings of a court.

State racing commissions can and do consider a licensee's criminal history at the time of a license application. Writing for the Lexington Herald-Leader earlier this week, columnist Linda Blackford questioned whether the commission should get involved in such a complaint, which the attorneys filing the complaint admitted was designed mainly to draw attention to the plight of the sheikh's family.

“Thoroughbred horse racing has always been full of princes and potentates, scoundrels and scam artists; where would the racing commission even begin to start turning away the morally compromised?” wrote Blackford. “And speaking of that, do we really think the racing commission should even get close to geopolitical power plays?”

Godolphin representatives had already indicated the sheikh has no plans to attend this year's Derby.

Read more at the Lexington Herald-Leader.

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