03/28/2012 11:57AM

Interview: Baffert recovering from heart surgery, expects to be released Thursday


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – For someone who suffered a heart attack approximately 57 hours earlier, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert looked pretty good Wednesday morning.

Baffert, 59, was up and walking about his palatial suite on the eighth floor of City Hospital in Dubai on Wednesday morning when a handful of visitors walked in to see him.

“I’m alive and grateful,” Baffert said in an interview with Daily Racing Form. “Actually, I feel pretty good. We caught the problem before it happened. Luckily, I had my wife Jill with me on this trip.”

If not for Jill, Baffert said, “I’d be curtains. I got to thank her. She realized I was having a heart attack.”

Baffert said he wasn’t feeling well on the flight from California to Dubai. But it wasn’t until about 3 a.m. Monday that things got worse. Baffert’s chest felt tight, he was sweating, and his left arm was in pain, all symptomatic of a heart attack.

After Jill called paramedics, Bob Baffert was quickly transported to City Hospital and within 25 minutes of being admitted, he was undergoing a procedure that included having three stents put into two arteries.

Baffert was the beneficiary of some phone calls made on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed, Dubai’s ruling leader. As appreciative of Mohammed as Baffert was, the trainer did note that a few hours after Sheikh Mohammed visited him in the hospital, Baffert said “he outbid me on a horse” at the Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old in training sale at Palm Meadows.

On Tuesday, Baffert was moved out of intensive care and into a three-room suite on the top floor of City Hospital. In addition to what would be a regular hospital room, there is a sitting room and a dining area, both equipped with large sectional couches. All told, the suite has three large flat-screen televisions.

“It’s a very elegant hospital room,” Baffert said. “They’ve been very gracious and nice to me here. I feel like I’ve got really good treatment. The doctor has been fantastic. Not only the best doctor, but the best dressed doctor I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Baffert is in Dubai to run Game On Dude in Saturday night’s $10 million Dubai World Cup and The Factor in the $2 million Golden Shaheen.

Baffert was expected to be released Thursday and said he would definitely attend the races Saturday.

“The doctor told me be careful, don’t stress yourself out,” Baffert said. “I hope [Game On Dude] is in a position to be in a stretch drive, because he’s really tough. If they’re turning for home and he’s right there, it’ll be exciting. We won’t know until it happens. That would be a nice feeling. I don’t know if it’s worth keeling over for, but I’ll be excited.”

Earlier on the card, Baffert will send out The Factor in the Golden Shaheen. Last year, Baffert finished second in that race with Euroears. The horse that beat Euroears, Rocket Man, is back in this year and has an imposing record of 19 wins from 25 starts.

“We brought a bigger boat,” said Baffert, who was visited by the connections of The Factor, David Shimmon and his wife Mary Beth and George Bolton and his wife Lindsay and son Jack.

In addition to his wife, Baffert brought the couple’s son Bode to Dubai in what was going to be a working vacation. Baffert was staying at the Atlantis Hotel, where he had hoped to enjoy some time at the facility’s water parks with his son.

Baffert said he plans to still hang out with Jill and Bode, but will not partake in any water games.

“I’m going to act like a grandfather and see what happens,” Baffert said.

Baffert said doctors told him he could leave Dubai on Tuesday.

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