National Treasure wins 148th Preakness Stakes

There will be no Triple Crown winner again this year, as Kentucky Derby winner Mage was comfortably beaten in today’s G1 Preakness at Pimlico. The hero of the hour was second-favourite National Treasure, who outfought Blazing Sevens in a thrilling stretch duel to win by a head, making his stakes breakthrough in the process and giving trainer Bob Baffert a record eighth Preakness.

Preakness Stakes

G1, $1,500,000, 1m 3/16 dirt, 3yo

National hero

Records and hearts were broken at Pimlico this afternoon, when National Treasure ended Kentucky Derby winner Mage’s dream of Triple Crown glory with a battling, gate-to-wire, heart-on-the-sleeve defeat of Blazing Sevens in the Preakness, making his stakes breakthrough while giving trainer Bob Baffert a record eighth success in the race and jockey John Velazquez his first. Mage finished third.

National Treasure, the 5-2 second-choice in a field of seven following the scratch of First Mission, was expected to be the speed of the race from his inside post and that’s the way it went, although there wasn’t much speed in evidence.

He was granted a very easy lead, taking them through a half-mile in 48.92s and the three-quarters in a leisurely 1:13.49, ensuring that 7-5 favourite Mage wouldn’t have the pace to run at that served him so well at Churchill Downs.

2023 Preakness Race Video


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♬ original sound – horseracingtote – horseracingtote


The third-favourite Blazing Sevens moved up to join the pace-setter around the turn, and as soon as they straightened up he threw down a sustained challenge on National Treasure’s outside. The pair drifted towards the fence while charging for the line in lockstep before National Treasure asserted in the last 50 yards and turned back his gallant rival to win by a head.

Mage looked a beaten horse at the top of the lane and lacked any of the zip he showed in the Derby, with the two-week turnaround a likely cause of his eclipse. He was two and a quarter lengths back in third, with Red Route One fourth.

“It’s been a while,” said the veteran Hall of Famer Velazquez, referring to his Preakness record. “It means the world to me. It was a big omission on my record and it’s a special day for me to finally win this race.”

The win lent a little sunshine to what had been a very difficult day for Baffert and his team, as high-class sprinter Havnameltdown had to be euthanized after sustaining an injury earlier in the afternoon.

“It’s been a very emotional day,” he said. “Losing that horse really hurt. But I’m just happy for Johnny.”

National Treasure, a son of Quality Road, was improving his resume to two-for-six after some near misses at the highest level, including the show spot in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland last fall. The G1 Belmont, the final leg of the Triple Crown on June 10, is likely to be under consideration, although the mile and a half distance could be a fair way further than National Treasure wants to go.

Preakness Stakes Payouts

1. National Treasure7.804.002.60
2. Blazing Sevens 5.002.80
3. Mage  2.40

Winning time: 1m 55.12s

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