I have always been in support of the Arabs, and welcomed their participation in horse racing. I have felt that they (Sheikh Mohammed in particular) loved horses, loved the sport of horse racing, and God knows the money theyíve spent in livestock has been beneficial to our breeders.
However, their widespread, full-out drive now to dominate every aspect of the business is making me (and others in the game) slightly uneasy. The latest is that Sheikh Mo seems to be strongly connected to the purchase of Fasig-Tipton Company, an old-line, tradition-laden Thoroughbred auction house. Does this not seem strange? Are there not numerous pockets of conflict of interest in such an alliance?
Sheikh Mohammed reportedly has made staggering investments in the Australian Thoroughbred industry lately. Last fall in America he planked out close to $100 million to purchase Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Any Given Saturday, taking these three-year-old stars out of competition and to the breeding shed. Good Lord! If these people love horse racing, why would you not race one or more of these glamorous colts? One directive to Fasig-Tipton from the prospective buyer is to attract new people to racing. Racing our star horses is a most effective way to do that. Surely the Arabs do not have to be overly concerned with the bottom line, and the retirement of these horses to the breeding shed is not beneficial to the sport of horse racing.
But they paid their money; they own the horses and they can do with them what they want.
Sheikh Mohammed has demonstrated in Dubai that he is a relentless dreamer and achiever and that he is one of the most creative, brilliant, and ambitious men on this planet, no doubt about it.
But what does he have in mind for the Thoroughbred racing industry? Some of his accelerating, aggressive moves look as if he wants to control most of the game. Buying an auction company substantiates this notion.
The many contributions of the Maktoum family are to be applauded vigorously. But one begins to doubt that love of the fleet Thoroughbred along with competitive fire and sporting blood are the prime motivating factors.
I welcome his colors in our great races. They bring glamour, mystique, and quality to our sport. We need them all, but I wish the Arabs didnít have to buy one of our great auction companies, and I wish Fasig-Tipton hadnít found it necessary to sell.
I believe Humphrey Finney and John Finney would be turning over in their graves.
This is Cot Campbell and this is my view.