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National Treasure gallops to victory in the 148th Preakness Stakes


National Treasure took victory in the 148th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse on Saturday, edging out Kentucky Derby winner Mage and capping another dismal day in the beleaguered sport.

Earlier Saturday before National Treasure’s big win, tragedy struck the Sport of Kings again as Havnameltdown broke down and threw jockey Luis Saez atop the stretch of the $200,000 Grade IIII Chick Lang Stakes.

Havnameltdown’s left front ankle injury was so severe that the colt was put down on the spot.

The tragedy in Race Six comes following a string of equine deaths leading up to the Kentucky Derby earlier this month at Churchill Downs.

Eight horses have died in just over a week at the famed Louisville course, raising concerns about the sport’s treatment of its animals.

Death cast a pall over Maryland’s biggest annual race day as Mage sought to win the Triple Crown.

John Velazquez, atop the National Treasure, celebrates after winning the 148th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse, Saturday, May 20, 2023, in Baltimore.
John Velazquez, atop National Treasure, celebrates after winning the 148th Preakness Stakes on Saturday.Julia Nikhinson/AP

Havnameltdown and National Treasure are formed by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.

The win marked a record eight Preakness wins for Baffert, who missed the final race of the race through suspension.

“This business is all about twists and turns, ups and downs,” he said.

The coach’s voice cracked as he spoke in the moments after the win.

“Losing that horse today really hurt. But I’m happy for Johnny,” Baffert said, referring to winning jockey John R. Velazquez. “He got the win. I have a great team. … I’m sorry, but it was a very emotional day.”

With the triumph of National Treasure, the list of Triple Crown winners will remain at 13 as Mage’s bid for horse racing history failed in Baltimore.

Justify, in 2018, was the last to accomplish the feat.

Mage’s assistant trainer, Gustavo Delgado Jr., didn’t seem too disappointed after the race.

“I still won the Derby,” he said. “Nobody’s going to take that. We still love the horse, and we’ll beat them later.”

The day for Charm City belonged to National Treasure, who secured an eighth Preakness win for Baffert and Black-Eyed Susans first cover to jockey Velazquez.

“Not having one, he was definitely missing,” he said of his first Preakness victory among four Kentucky Derby wins and two Belmont Stakes. “So it’s very special to have him.”

National Treasure jumped in early and took advantage of a slow pace, as the colt had just enough to hold off a fiery charge from Blazing Sevens.

The 7-5 favorite Mage looked like he was in a position to rally for the win, but he couldn’t find the next gear in the streak and finished with show money.

National Treasure was the betting public’s second choice at 5-2 and a winning $2 bet on the colt returned $7.80.

The latest jewel in the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, is scheduled for June 10, just outside New York.

Denis Romero contributed.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.