DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert had a heart attack early Monday in Dubai where he was preparing to run Game On Dude in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
Baffert’s assistant, Jim Barnes, said from Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, Calif., that Baffert was “doing very good” after having three stents inserted in two arteries. Barnes said he had spoken to the trainer’s wife, Jill, who had accompanied her husband to the Middle East, along with their young son, Bode.
Barnes said Jill Baffert told him the procedure went well and “everything should be fine.”
Bernie Schiappa, co-owner of Game On Dude, said the 59-year-old trainer wasn’t feeling well on the long flight to Dubai, and was tired after visiting the barn and arriving at the hotel. He said Baffert then fell ill early Monday morning and was taken to a hospital.
“He had a heart attack, two arteries were blocked, 100 percent in one, 90 percent in the other,” Schiappa said by phone from Dubai. “He had two stents put in one artery, one stent in the other.”
Schiappa said paramedics arrived and an ambulance took Baffert to a hospital. Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum was alerted and he arrived at the hospital to visit Baffert. The sheikh owns Darley Stud and Godolphin racing, one of world’s leading thoroughbred breeding and racing operations.
Schiappa said it’ll be about eight to 10 days before the trainer would be allowed to travel home. It was not known whether Baffert would attend Saturday’s race at Meydan Racecourse.
“He’s comfortable now,” Barnes said. “They caught it just in time.”
The Daily Racing Form, which first reported Baffert’s condition, posted a 13-second cell phone video with him speaking from his hospital bed.
“When you have Sheik Mo come visit you … this is when you know you are being well taken care of,” Baffert said in the video.
Game On Dude, runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, is a top contender for the Dubai World Cup. The horse is co-owned by retired Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees manager Joe Torre.
Baffert is a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby, and has several top prospects for the May 5 race. He has also won the Preakness Stakes five times and the Belmont Stakes once. He’s saddled seven Breeders’ Cup winners. The white-haired Baffert, one of the most recognizable figures in U.S. horse racing, is a three-time Eclipse Award winner as outstanding trainer.