DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Trainer Bob Baffert was moved out of intensive care a day after having a heart attack and is expected to be released from the hospital by Thursday.
Baffert, a familiar face around Saratoga Race Course, was in the United Arab Emirates to train Game on Dude for the Dubai World Cup this week.
Bernie Schiappa, co-owner of Game On Dude, called the 59-year-old trainer’s condition excellent today and said he was already “training from bed” ahead of Saturday’s race. He said Baffert was in good spirits, joking with friends and working closely on the preparations for Game on Dude, as well as The Factor, which is running in the $2 million Golden Shaheen.
Baffert saddled Point Given to victory in the 2001 Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Last year, his Coil was the second choice in the Travers, but finished 10th. Coil won the $1 million Haskell earlier in the summer. Baffert was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs in 2009.
Schiappa said it was likely Baffert will go to the track to check on his horses once he’s released.
“He would probably come here now,” he said. “If he had his way, he would walk out now but they won’t let him. He is under really good care and he knows he has to listen. He is handling it well. He is in very good spirits as well.”
Baffert on Tuesday tweeted “I want to thank my wonderful wife Jill, who convinced me I was having a heart attack and called paramedics.”
Baffert began feeling ill on Monday and was rushed to the hospital, where he had three stents inserted in two arteries. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was alerted and visited Baffert in the hospital. Baffert has trained horses for the Dubai ruler.
Schiappa said he expected Baffert will be able to handle the stress of race night.
Game On Dude, no stranger to tight finishes, is among the favorites for the 14-horse Dubai World Cup along with So You Think, Royal Delta and a trio of Japanese horses led by Transcend, which finished second last year.
“I think Bob can take the stretch call,” Schiappa said. “He told me that the doctor will be at his side just in case he keels over. That is Bob’s humor as you probably expect. But that is what he said.”
Game On Dude, runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, 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 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.