ELMONT, N.Y. — Sheik Mohammed, who will start a record eight horses Saturday in the Breeders' Cup races at Belmont Park, has told race officials that he will contribute all of his purse money to the survivors of victims of the terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
Previously, Sheik Mohammed, the crown prince of Dubai and defense minister for the United Arab Emirates, announced a $5-million pledge to the same charities. Depending on how his horses do Saturday, millions more could be added to the special fund, which has been designated as National Thoroughbred Racing Assn. Charities.
Sheik Mohammed, whose stable name is Godolphin Racing, is not expected to be at Belmont for the Breeders' Cup, an eight-race card worth $13 million.
"He's the minister of defense over there," said jockey Frankie Dettori, who is Godolphin's No. 1 rider. "He's got to defend his country. If he's in New York, it would be a bonus. He's got a bigger role to play and has a commitment to his country."
Godolphin's Breeders' Cup hopefuls are headed by Fantastic Light and Sakhee, who are likely to run in the $4-million Classic, the richest race on the program. Sakhee, the Arc de Triomphe winner in Paris this month, is also eligible for the $2-million Breeders' Cup Turf.
Godolphin's other horses are Express Tour and Noverre in the $1-million Mile; Imperial Gesture and Tempera in the $1-million Juvenile Fillies and Essence Of Dubai and Ibn Al Haitham in the $1-million Juvenile.
The record for most starts by an owner in a single Breeders' Cup is seven, set by the late Gene Klein in 1987 and 1988. Klein won one race in 1987 and two in 1988.
Either by himself or in partnership, Sheik Mohammed has won five Breeders' Cup races: With Pebbles in 1985, In The Wings in 1990, Arazi in 1991, Barathea in 1995 and Daylami in 1999.
"Horses are something [Sheik Mohammed and his brother] love," said Dettori, who rode Barathea and Daylami to their victories. "It's not a be-all and end-all. For them, it's a hobby."
Both of trainer Bob Hess Jr.'s horses have been scratched from the Breeders' Cup. Blueprint, winner of the Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park and the San Luis Rey Handicap at Santa Anita but considered a longshot in Saturday's Turf, is out with a suspensory-ligament injury to his right foreleg; and Striking Song, whose only win was against maidens at Santa Anita in October, has a chipped ankle that will prevent him from running in the Juvenile.
Unbridled Elaine will run in the Distaff, but with a different trainer. Owner Roger Devenport has taken the 3-year-old filly away from David Vance and returned her to Dallas Stewart, who was in charge for the first five races of her career.
Devenport was upset that Vance wasn't shipping Unbridled Elaine from Kentucky to New York until today. The owner had wanted the filly at Belmont a week or two before the race.
Devenport also transferred nine more of his horses from Vance to Stewart.
Unbridled Elaine, winner of the Monmouth Oaks in July, finished second against males in the Pennsylvania Derby and was fourth in the Spinster at Keeneland in her last start.
D.G. Van Clief, Breeders' Cup president, said Tuesday that NBC is about to sign a four-year contract to televise the races through 2005. NBC has been the Breeders' Cup network since the races were first run in 1984.
Van Clief also said that the final Saturday in October will be the date for the Breeders' Cup the next four years. Thirteen of the previous 17 Breeders' Cups were run in November.
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What: Horse racing's richest day with eight races worth $13 million.
Where: Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
TV: Channel 4, 10 a.m.