01/01/2017 9:30AM

Owner Shah, trainer Baffert end business relationship


ARCADIA, Calif. - Prominent owner Kaleem Shah and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert have parted ways, Baffert said in an email Saturday evening.

Baffert wrote in a four-paragraph statement that he and Shah "have ended their business relationship," effective Saturday. Baffert declined to elaborate when reached via text Saturday evening.

Shah said in a phone interview that trainers Doug O'Neill and Art Sherman will be his new trainers. He did not disclose a reason for the breakup with Baffert, but expressed disappointment that their partnership was ending.

“From my perspective, it was my desire to race horses with Bob as long as I had horses in training,” he said. “I always wanted to have Bob as my trainer and it was not meant to be.

“There is a lot of sadness. We decided to move on.”

Shah said that Dortmund, the millionaire multiple stakes winner, and Klimt, the winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in September, will be trained by Sherman. Dortmund was third in the 2015 Kentucky Derby, the year he won the Santa Anita Derby. Dortmund was winless in four starts in 2016, and has not raced since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 4.

Sherman, who trains 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome, said he expects to have five horses in his stable owned by Shah and that they will be arriving at his barn Sunday.

"I was really surprised," Sherman said Saturday evening. "I don't know what's happening. I appreciate the chance to train those horses."

Shah said that O'Neill will be the trainer of runners such as the 2-year-olds American Gal and Iliad. American Gal was third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita in November.

O'Neill trained for Shah briefly in the early 2000s and was contacted by the owner this weekend. For Shah, O'Neill trained Go On Baby, who ran in graded stakes on turf in California in the early 2000s.

"I was floored by it," O'Neill said of the decision. "We're going to huddle up more tomorrow."

Shah has been active in recent years as an owner who buys horses at leading auctions, and as a breeder.

Shah, 54, and Baffert, 63, have been at the fore of American racing in recent seasons. Together, they raced such prominent runners as Bayern, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic, Haskell Invitational, and Pennsylvania Derby in 2014; Declassify, the winner of the Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes in 2014; and Eden's Moon, the winner of the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes in 2012.

Shah's stable ended 2016 with 19 wins from 74 starters who earned $1,803,081. Shah ranked 41st in the nation in earnings. He was as high as second in 2014, with earnings of $5,977,978, the year Bayern led the stable. In 2015, Shah's runners earned $2,345,130, leaving him ranked 24th in the nation.

Baffert has the most high-profile stable in California. For 2016, Baffert ranked fourth in the nation among trainers with earnings of $15,864,326. Baffert has won the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding trainer four times, most recently in 2015 when the stable was led by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, who was owned by Zayat Stables.