War Emblem's owner, Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia, was not present when his colt failed to win the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown.
Richard Mulhall, president of the Prince's racing operations, The Thoroughbred Corporation, said Prince Ahmed, "had some family obligations that he had to take care of," in Riyadh. Mulhall said the decision was not related to security issues or fear of anti-Arab sentiment in New York, site of the worst of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"He kept trying to come. He thought that he was going to come. He just
couldn't make it," Mulhall said. Mulhall said the Prince also missed seeing
his 2001 star, Point Given, win last year's Preakness Stakes.
In a nod to security, Belmont Park officials limited coolers to the grassy
"Backyard" area adjacent to the paddock. That didn't discourage many fans,
who jammed the area. Many said they were waved through the cooler-inspection
gate without so much as a glance through their beer, submarine sandwiches,
sausage and other consumables.
Jockey John Velazquez had a tough weekend. On Friday, Velazquez was taken
for X-rays Friday after his mount fell over another fallen horse in the
$100,000 Flash Stakes for 2-year-olds. The X-rays showed no fracture in his
injured right knee, but Velzaquez nonetheless took off his first few mounts on
Saturday's card to visit his chiropractor. He resumed riding in the fourth
race Saturday, only to have his horse, Imadeed, break down in the stretch
run, again throwing Velazquez to the track and again injuring his right knee. He
took off the rest of his mounts Saturday.