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National Treasure Wins Preakness Stakes, Helps Trainer Baffert Break Record

National Treasure Wins Preakness Stakes: National Treasure upstaged Kentucky Derby winner Mage and Blazing Sevens to win the Preakness Stakes on Saturday at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The victory by three-year-old colt had bigger implications for controversial trainer Bob Baffert, who rewrote history as well. National Treasure’s win in Preakness surprised horseracing betting aficionados who placed most of their money for Mage to win the Preakness.

Coming in as No2 favorite for Preakness

National Treasure came in with 5-2 odds, ranked second behind Mage (7-5) and ahead of Blazing Sevens (9-2) and the John Velasquez-ridden horse did not disappoint. He took the lead from the opening stages and quashed the challenge of Blazing Sevens, which kept in step with the three-year-old colt but fell short by a head in the end. The colt out of Quality Road and Treasure also quelled a last-ditch rally from Mage, who was bidding to become the 14th horse to win the Triple Crown two weeks after winning the Kentucky Derby. National Treasure ran the 1 3/16-mile (1.911-kilometer) race at one minute and 55.12 seconds.

National Treasure Wins Preakness Stakes: Historic win for Baffert, Velasquez

National Treasure’s victory in the Preakness also benefited two persons: Baffert and Velasquez. Baffert claimed his record-breaking Preakness win, moving ahead of 19th-century trainer Robert Wyndham Walden for most by a trainer. However, the controversial trainer, who has been barred for the past two stagings of the Kentucky Derby due to a suspension stemming from Medina Spirit’s failed drug test in 2021. The development forced National Treasure to miss a start in the Derby. The race also gave Velasquez his first win at Preakness that will go along with three Kentucky Derby and two Belmont Stakes triumphs. Velasquez was almost denied by jockey Irad Ortiz who kept Blazing Sevens in contention in the finish line. Blazing Sevens could have won the race as he went ahead by a nose at one instance at the stretch. However, National Treasure’s last-ditch effort helped him move ahead and won by a head.

What happened to Mage?

Mage tried to make another attempt at a come-from-behind win just like in the Kentucky Derby. However, his challenge from the middle of the seven-horse field was quelled by National Treasure and Blazing Sevens and finished third. Mage’s trainer Gustavo Delgado Jr admitted that his horse was trapped in a very slow pace, which did not help the horse’s running style of closing late and passing rivals down the stretch. His defeat means there will not be a Triple Crown winner for a fifth consecutive year since Baffert’s Justify in 2018. In terms of betting earnings, National Treasure generated USD7.80 for bettors picking him to win the race. Bettors were given USD4 to have National Treasure finishing second and USD2.60 for third. Blazing Sevens paid USD5 for betting aficionados who guessed that he’ll place second and USD2.80 for third. Mage came in third and those who picked him to place third were given USD2.40. Red Route One finished fourth while Chase the Chaos, Perform and Coffeewithchris ended up fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.

National Treasure’s Preakness Win Dampened by Another Horse Death

National Treasure’s win in the Preakness Stakes was overshadowed by another accident on the race course. Three-year-old colt and Baffert-trained Havnameltdown was euthanized after injuring his front leg in the Chick Lang Stakes Race. The incident also placed the sport back in the spotlight, two weeks after seven horses died in a 10-day span at Churchill Downs before the Kentucky Derby. Baffert commented about the horse’s death, saying that losing Havnameltdown hurts him as a trainer. For him, the incident dampened a big day for his horses. The jockey Luis Saez was attended by medical personnel and brought to the hospital after the spill. His X-rays were negative, Saez’s agent said.

Onward to Belmont

Next in the Triple Crown series is the Belmont Stakes scheduled on June 10. The 1 1/2-mile (2.414-kilometer) race will feature National Treasure, Mage and Forte as possible starters for the race. Aside from the trio, Tapit Trice, Kingsbarns and Prove Worthy are possible entries for the race as well. It is expected to be a loaded event with other contenders looking to take part in the last jewel of the US Triple Crown. Belmont’s long distance will make or break horses as it is seen as a true test for racehorses who seek track greatness. For trainers, it is their last chance to take home one of the prestigious events in the May-June period as the next big event that they will have a chance to gain further recognition is the Breeders’ Cup. Aside from the prominent horses that are expected to take part in Belmont Park, Arcangelo, Arabian Lion, Raise Cain, Red Route One and Sun Thunder are reportedly starting for the event which would bring more excitement for sports oddsmakers who love to watch big-time horseracing and earn extra money.