Preakness Stakes: National Treasure wins 2nd leg of Triple Crown; Baffert breaks record

BALTIMORE — National Treasure won the 148th Preakness Stakes on Saturday, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert a record eighth victory in the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

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National Treasure outdueled Blazing Sevens down the stretch to defeat the seven-horse field in the $1.65 million, 1 3/16-mile Grade I stakes race on a cloudy day at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. He finished in 1:55.12. National Treasure’s win means that there will be no Triple Crown winner this year. Mage, the Kentucky Derby winner two weeks ago, finished third

“This business is twists and turns, the ups and downs,” Baffert said after returning to a Triple Crown race for the first time in two years. “And then, to win, this -- losing that horse today really hurt.

“It’s been a very emotional day.”

The Preakness was held hours after a horse was euthanized at the track after falling during the stretch run of the sixth race.

Havnameltdown, a horse trained by Baffert, was put down after suffering an injury to its left front ankle during the Chick Lang Stakes.

Baffert broke the all-time record for victories by a trainer at the Preakness by saddling his eighth winner. He broke a tie set in the late 19th century by Robert Wyndham Walden for most Preakness wins by a trainer.

Walden won seven times between 1875 and 1888.

The last non-Derby winner for Baffert was Lookin at Lucky in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times.

National Treasure’s victory snapped an 0-for-12 streak at the Preakness for jockey John Valazquez.

The third Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes, will be held in Elmont, New York, at Belmont Park on June 10.

Mage, the favorite for the Preakness, had been cleared to compete after bumping his head in his stall on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. Mafde needed a few stitches to close a cut above his right eye, according to the news organization.

Mage went off at 7-5 odds at post time. He won the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago at the long odds of 15-1 in the 18-horse field.

National Treasure was at 5-2 odds at post time.

This year’s Preakness field was the smallest in the race since 1986, according to The Athletic. For the first time in 54 years, only one horse from the Kentucky Derby raced in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, CBS Sports reported. That was Mage, who came from behind to pass Two Phil’s down the stretch and win the 149th Run for the Roses.

Majestic Prince won each of those races in 1969, the sports network reported.

The last horse to win the Triple Crown was Justify in 2018. Mage was attempting to become the 14th horse to win all three legs of the Triple Crown. Heading into Saturday’s race, only 36 horses had won the first two Triple Crown races, Fox Sports reported.

The last two horses to win the Derby and Preakness were American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify three years later, both trained by Baffert. Both horses then completed the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes.

The Preakness field was narrowed to seven early Friday when First Mission, trained by Brad Cox, was scratched on the advice of veterinarians. In a news release, Godolphin, the owner of the horse, said that vets identified an issue with First Mission’s left hind ankle.

First Mission had been the early second choice at 5-2 odds behind Mage when he was scratched.

First Mission’s removal came after a record five Kentucky Derby entrants were scratched, according to The Athletic. The deaths of seven horses in the 10 days leading up to the first Triple Crown race, including two on Derby Day -- and another horse that was euthanized during a race at Churchill Downs on May 14 -- has returned equine safety to the forefront.

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