Thoroughbred owner Kaleem Shah and trainer Bob Baffert are parting ways after an eight-year run that produced at least 11 graded stakes winners, including five Grade 1 winners, topped by Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern.
Daily Racing Form broke the news Saturday night after Baffert sent a four-paragraph statement to one of its writers. Neither Baffert nor Shah has commented on the reason for the break-up.
G1 winners Dortmund, who turns 5 on Jan. 1, and Del Mar Futurity winner Klimt will be among six horses previously trained by Baffer that go to Art Sherman. Seven of Shah’s other runners will go from Baffert to trainer Doug O’Neill. Among those sent to O’Neill were 3-year-old maiden winner Iliad, a son of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, and American Gal, third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Shah’s most recent runner with Baffert came on Friday when Fantastic Style, a G2-winning daughter of Harlan’s Holiday, finished fifth as the 1-2 favorite in the Kalookan Queen Stakes at Santa Anita in her first start since May.
Shah has made significant investments at yearling and 2-year-old auctions, including the $1.9 million Take Control, a 2-year-old sale graduate of 2009 who wound up winning just $70,450. Baffert has been his primary agent, buying horses either in the name of Shah, Ed Savant or in his own name as agent. Bloodstock agent Donato Lanni has also purchased horses on Shah’s behalf at public auction.
In 2016, Shah’s horses made 74 starts, with 19 wins, 19 seconds and nine thirds, for earnings of $1,803,081, ranking him 41st by North American earnings. In 2015, Shah’s North American runners earned $2,345,130 (24th) and in 2014 – the year Bayern won the Breeders’ Cup Classic – he had his best year, ranking second with $5,977,978.
“It was a big surprise for me,” said Sherman, who will send out 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome for his final race in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park. After that, it’s off to stud for the popular California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit who turned six today, so Dortmund could prove a fortuitous acquisition.
“I only met Mr. Shah one time. He was very cordial and a very nice man,” Sherman said. “It came out of the blue. I’ve never had a client like him with so much money.”
Sherman will ship California Chrome to Florida from Ontario Airport at 2 a.m. on Jan. 6. Sherman plans to leave Jan.19.
“The horse is doing unbelievably good,” Sherman said.
Said Doug O’Neill: “We’re so excited, blessed and grateful. We’re looking forward to being a part of Team Shah.”
Added Doug’s brother, Dennis: “We were sitting in our suite at Santa Anita when we got the news. We were extremely surprised.”T