x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

It is business as usual for Bob Baffert

The handler is 'training from the bed' for Game On Dude and very keen to head to Meydan Racecourse.

Bob Baffert is known for his good sense of humour.
Bob Baffert is known for his good sense of humour.

DUBAI // Bob Baffert could witness Game On Dude's run in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in person after he continued to recover from the heart attack he suffered on Monday.

affert was taken ill on Sunday night and needed emergency heart surgery, which included three stents inserted into his arteries after his wife, Jill, called the paramedics from the Atlantis The Palm hotel.

He was moved out of intensive care yesterday morning and could be discharged from hospital as early as tomorrow.

“It is very encouraging,” Bernie Schiappa, part-owner of Game On Dude, said.

“He’s resting well. Hopefully he will be discharged on Thursday. He’s training from the bed and I would say the probability is very good that he will be here [at Meydan] on Saturday.”

Baffert was said to be in high spirits and only hours after suffering the heart attack he sent an extraordinary video from his hospital bed to Schiappa. It showed Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai leaning over the three-times Hall Of Fame trainer, with John Ferguson, the Sheikh’s bloodstock manager, also in the room.

“This is when you know you’re being well taken care of,” Baffert says on the video, which was later released by Daily Racing Form.

The 59 year old, who has won the Dubai World Cup twice with Silver Charm in 1998 and Captain Steve three years later, had also recovered enough to tweet to his 6,100 followers: “I want to thank my wonderful wife Jill who convinced me I was having a heart attack and called paramedics,” the tweet said.

“He is a comedian, it’s his personality,” Schiappa said.

“He’s doing as well as can be expected. He would come here now if he could and he says he’ll have a doctor with him to watch the race in case he keels over – but that’s Bob’s humour and that is what he said.”

If Baffert does make it, Game On Dude is not the sort of racehorse you would want to watch after heart surgery in a $10 million (Dh36.7m) horse race.

The five year old has been involved in two finishes that saw the gelding separated from a rival by a nose; in the Hollywood Gold Cup in June last year when beaten by Baffert’s First Dude, after he won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Hanidcap from Setsuko in similar circumstances.

Of course the most difficult result of all to stomach was the painful loss in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November when Chantal Sutherland was beaten by Drosselmeyer, partnered by Mike Smith, Sutherland’s ex-boyfriend.

Smith came late and wide and Schiappa believes it was a masterful tactic to not get involved in a tussle with his gusty horse.

“He’s a fighter. If you watch all of his races he just keeps on coming,” he said.

“He would never have lost that race. As soon as he sees that horse out of the side of his eye he was in front five yards after the wire. He’s is a proven commodity.”


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