Prince Ahmed's cousin killed en route to funeral

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Associated Press WriterRIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- A Saudi prince was killed in a car accident Tuesday while driving to the funeral of his cousin, Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the owner of Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem.

Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah, a 41-year-old businessman, was killed near Riyadh, according to security officials and a statement from the Saudi royal family.

Prince Ahmed died of a heart attack Monday at age 43, shocking the thoroughbred racing world.

Joint funeral prayers were held for both princes at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque, the kingdom's largest. Ahmed and Sultan were buried side by side at Oudh cemetery in the capital.

Sultan's mother and Ahmed's father are siblings of King Fahd.

The accident happened before dawn as Sultan was driving from the western Saudi town of Taif to Riyadh, according to a family friend.

The high speed of the prince's car likely cause the accident, which involved another vehicle, according to security officials who spoke on the customary condition of anonymity.

Sultan, an ex-military pilot who owned the Lu'lu health care-related business, died after arriving at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh, where his cousin died Monday.

Thousands of people lined Riyadh streets to watch the motorcade, led by the two ambulances carrying the princes' bodies followed by a stream of black Mercedes with relatives.

The brief and modest funeral service was attended by members of the royal family, including Ahmed's father, Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman, who returned from Geneva on Monday night after hearing of his son's death.

"I could not control my tears when the body was lowered into the ground," said Salah al-Hammadi, editor-in-chief of Saudi Arabia's Premier Sports daily newspaper Arryadiah.

Later, Ahmed's father received hundreds of people, royalty and residents alike, at the governor's palace in Riyadh.

Ahmed spent $900,000 to buy War Emblem just three weeks before the Kentucky Derby, after the horse won the Illinois Derby. The colt's wire-to-wire victory at Churchill Downs in May made Ahmed the first Arab to win America's most famous thoroughbred race.

After winning the Preakness, War Emblem stumbled at the start of the Belmont Stakes, denying racing its first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

The prince also owned Spain, the all-time female money winner. D. Wayne Lukas trained the fillies Sharp Cat and Spain for Ahmed.

Ahmed became known for buying the top horses at the annual sales in Kentucky. He did not attend this summer's yearling sales because of what sale officials said were business demands in Riyadh.

Beyond his lifelong passion for horses, Ahmed led a publishing empire. Under his chairmanship, the publishing company Saudi Research and Marketing Group flourished to have assets of more than $533 million.

The Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat carried eight full-page condolences Tuesday for Ahmed from Saudi businessmen and companies.

Ahmed is survived by a wife and five children. Sultan is survived by a wife and two children.

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