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National Treasure Wins the Preakness Stakes

Bob Baffert Trains Winner after Suffering Tragic Loss of Horse Earlier on Card

Tragedy and triumph. Triumph after tragedy. The 2023 Triple Crown and horse racing itself can’t avoid calamity.

After a ruthless period that saw seven horses die at Churchill Downs — including two on the card for the Kentucky Derby — the 2023 Preakness card was marred, too.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MAY 20: Jockey John Velazquez #1 riding National Treasure (R) rides alongside jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. #7 riding Blazing Sevens (L) to cross the finish line first to win the 148th Running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 20, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Patrick Smith / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The second leg of the Triple Crown — contested over 1 3/16 miles at Maryland’s Pimlico Race Course — was won by National Treasure

National Treasure, the 5-2 second choice, broke quickly and took a two-length lead through the first quarter.

Mage sat fourth, four lengths off the lead entering the backstretch.

The pace was pedestrian, :48.92 for the half-mile. That wound up being a determining factor in the race.

National Treasure cruised through three-quarters when Blazing Sevens made his move to the leader.

Mage tried to pick up the top pair but was unable to gain serious ground.

National Treasure and Blazing Sevens engaged in a stirring stretch duel with jockey John Velazquez urging his charge to the wire.

“This business is twists and turns, ups and downs,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “… I am happy for Johnny, he got his win.

“I love Pimlico, I love Baltimore, I love these horses,” Baffert said after his record 8th Preakness victory.

It was the first win for Velazquez in 13 tries at the Preakness.

Chad Brown, trainer of Blazing Sevens, had been seeking his third Preakness but had to settle for second.

The parimutuel results:

Earlier on the card, in the Chick Lang Stakes, Havnameltdown, trained by Baffert broke down during the running of the race. He suffered a catastrophic left ankle injury and had to be euthanized on the racetrack.

Baffert released a statement following the tragic loss of Havnameltdown.

The Belmont Stakes will take place in three weeks in Elmont, New York. There will be no attempt at the Triple Crown for another year.

Baffert said he wanted to see how National Treasure bounces back from the Preakness before committing him to the 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont over Big Sandy.

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