BALTIMORE (AP) — Bob Baffert choked back tears and his voice cracked while he tried to juggle the conflicting feelings of seeing one of his horses win the Preakness Stakes hours after another was euthanized on the same track.
“This business is twists and turns, ups and downs,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “To win this — losing that horse today really hurt. … It’s been a very emotional day.”
National Treasure won the Preakness on Saturday in Baffert’s return to the Triple Crown trail following a suspension, ending Kentucky Derby champion Mage’s Triple Crown bid in the race Baffert has now captured more than any other trainer. But the joy was tempered by the agony of another 3-year-old colt, Havnameltdown, injuring his left front leg in an undercard race and being put down.
“When he got hurt, it’s just the most sickening feeling a trainer can have,” Baffert said. “It put a damper on the afternoon.” It also put the sport squarely back in a familiar spot, two weeks after seven horses died in a 10-day span at Churchill Downs leading up to the Derby.
National Treasure did not run in the Derby at Churchill Downs, where Baffert has been barred the past two years because of a suspension stemming from 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s failed drug test that led to a disqualification in that race. Medina Spirit was Baffert’s most recent Preakness horse, finishing third.
The 5-2 second choice Saturday, National Treasure came through, delivering Baffert a record-breaking eighth victory in the Preakness and his 17th in a Triple Crown race, also the most among trainers. National Treasure held off hard-charging Blazing Sevens down the stretch to win the 1 3/16-mile, $1.65 million race by a head in 1:55.12.
“He fought the whole way,” said jockey John Velazquez, who won the Preakness for the first time in his 13th try. “He put up a really good fight. … That’s what champions do.”
National Treasure paid $7.80 to win, $4 to place and $2.60 to show. Blazing Sevens paid $5 to place and $2.80 to show. Mage finished third after going off as the 7-5 favorite, paying $2.40 to show.
Mage’s defeat means there will not be a Triple Crown winner for a fifth consecutive year since Baffert’s Justify in 2018.
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Written by: Editor