Sheikh Rashid, who campaigned dual grade I winner Henny Hughes last year and has said he hopes to become the world’s leading owner, has completed extended negotiations to purchase potential champion sprinter Thor’s Echo.
The eldest son of Darley and Godolphin owner Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Rashid, 25, currently ranks as leading owner in the United Arab Emirates and is expected to send Thor’s Echo to trainer Satish Seemar in Dubai.
An obvious goal would be the $2 million Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) on March 31. Thor’s Echo finished second in that event in 2006.
Pablo Suarez, who raced Thor’s Echo with Royce Jaime, would not reveal the price for the 5-year-old California-bred gelding by Swiss Yodeler who won the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) and the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes (gr. I) to make himself the leading candidate for the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter. The sale is a "happy-sad type of deal," Suarez said Thursday.
"It’s the right decision and the smart thing to do, the prudent thing to do, for my family and myself, and Royce feels the same way. But it’s hard; it’s a horse that’s taken you places that you’ve never been before and done things you never thought you could do.
"I’m going to continue to root for him like there’s no tomorrow. We really, really love him and wish him all the best," Suarez said.
Dennis O’Neill, the brother of Thor's Echo trainer Doug O’Neill, represented Suarez and Jaime in arranging the sale through bloodstock agent Omar Trevino. Dennis O’Neill said Thor’s Echo has been resting in Kentucky and might not be ready to be shipped to Dubai until sometime in February after completing time in quarantine.
Representatives of Sheikh Rashid first contacted the connections of Thor’s Echo after he finished second to Bordonaro in the Ancient Title Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. I) Oct. 7, O’Neill said, but Suarez and Jaime decided to postpone a decision until after the Breeders’ Cup.
Then, when Thor’s Echo won that race and the De Francis Dash Nov. 25, Sheikh Rashid’s team "really wanted to get it done," O’Neill said.
Thor’s Echo has won five of 18 starts and placed nine times while earning $2,372,990. Suarez said he expected to invest some of the sale proceeds in education funds for his four children and "then just try to find the next Thor’s Echo."
Thor’s Echo faces competition from Henny Hughes, who raced for Sheikh Rashid’s Zabeel Racing, and Godolphin’s Discreet Cat, the other finalists for the champion sprinter title.
Sheikh Rashid, who last year purchased multiple grade II winner Choctaw Nation to race in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), leads all owners in the current UAE racing season with 20 wins, 13 more than second-ranked Sheikh Hamdan, owner of Shadwell Farm in Lexington.