"The fundamental problem the Saudis have in this country is the idea that they are not an ally," the lobbyist was quoted by the Times. "For a country that has been an ally for 60 years, that's frustrating."
Richard Mulhall, racing manager for The Thoroughbred Corporation, has discounted a report in Thursday's New York Times stating that the Saudi royal family has considered donating Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem to the families of the victims of last year's World Trade Center bombing."It's completely baseless," Mulhall told the Daily Racing Form. Mulhall said he had discussed the matter with Prince Faisal, who took over The Thoroughbred Corporation following the death of his brother, Prince Ahmed bin Salman. "To say the royal family is deciding this is baseless. The royal family is literally thousands of people. War Emblem belongs to the estate of Prince Ahmed. They're not giving him away."According to the Tiimes report, the gift of War Emblem would be a gesture to enhance the Saudi Arabian government's image with Americans. Citing an unnamed adviser to the royal family, the Times reported War Emblem would be presented as a gift to the victims' families as part of a commemoration at Ground Zero.The Times reported that the Saudi government has spent more than $5 million and engaged the services of several high-profile public relations firms in an effort to improve the country's image within the U.S.The newspaper reported that one ad produced as part of a campaign to coincide with the Sept. 11 anniversary of the terrorist attacks shows the American and Saudi flags being hoisted together as piano music plays in the background. In the commercial, the narrator intones, "In the war on terrorism we all have a part to play. Our country has been an ally for over 60 years," the Times reported.The Times said one lobbyist for the Saudi government, who spoke on condition that his name not be used, said Saudi officials "were deeply troubled by a perception in the United States that they were somehow complicit in the attacks."