JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Ahmed bin Salman was racing’s prince charming — whether he was kissing the nose of his horse in the winner’s circle, joking with jockeys about how famous he’d make them or bantering with other owners as he outbid them for another prospect.
On Monday, the genial owner of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem died of a heart attack at age 43, shocking the thoroughbred racing world from boardrooms to barns.
A member of the Saudi royal family, Salman bin Abdulaziz was head of a publishing empire.
His gregarious spirit and frequent laughter made him popular among jockeys and trainers, including Bob Baffert, who trained War Emblem and 2001 horse of the year Point Given for the prince.
“I’m in shock,” Baffert told the industry publication “The Blood Horse.” “When you go through a Triple Crown together, you get really close. He was like family. His passion for horses was incredible — he lived and breathed them.”
OFF THE FIELD