Saturday, May 04, 2002

Derby-winning Saudi prince to America: 'I love you'

AP Sports Writer

Jockey Victor Espinoza, aboard War Emblem, is triumphant as he wins the 128th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Derby photo gallery
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        LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Saudi prince with money to burn bought himself a horse last month. It was money well spent.

        War Emblem led wire-to-wire to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, earning Prince Ahmed Salman the gold trophy from America's most famous race.

        “It's been my dream,” said Salman, a member of Saudi Arabia's royal family. “I love you guys in America.”

        War Emblem won the Illinois Derby on April 6 in the same wire-to-wire style he used Saturday. Always on the lookout for a good horse to buy, Salman started placing calls.

        He liked the colt's name, and was further intrigued when War Emblem's trainer at the time, Frank Springer, said the Preakness Stakes was a better fit than the Kentucky Derby.

        After doling out a reported $1 million, Salman became the owner of War Emblem. He sent the colt to Bob Baffert, who trained Point Given, Salman's fifth-place Derby runner last year.

        “I thought the price was extremely reasonable,” Salman said. “I think it's much smarter to buy a horse four weeks ago than to raise them.”


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