One Baffert Horse Euthanized, Another Wins the Preakness

National Treasure's victory means there will be no Triple Crown winner
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2023 6:55 PM CDT
One Baffert Horse Euthanized, Another Wins the Preakness
National Treasure, second from right, with jockey John Velazquez, edges out Blazing Sevens, with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., left, to win the148th running of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 20, 2023, in Baltimore.   (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Bob Baffert’s National Treasure won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, ending Mage’s Triple Crown bid in the trainer’s return from a suspension—and just hours after another of his 3-year-old horses was euthanized on the track. Baffert headed to the winner’s circle on the same day that his colt Havnameltdown went down with a fatal left leg injury in an undercard race, per the AP. Baffert said he and his team were in shock. The fatality was another dark moment for a sport already reeling from the deaths of seven horses at Churchill Downs in a 10-day span leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

“This business is twists and turns, the ups and downs,” Baffert said, choking back tears. "And then, to win, this—losing that horse today really hurt. ... It’s been a very emotional day." Derby winner Mage finished third in the Preakness after going off as the 7-5 favorite. His defeat means there will not be a Triple Crown winner for a fifth consecutive year. National Treasure, the 5-2 second choice, held off hard-charging Blazing Sevens down the stretch to win the 1 3/16-mile, $1.65 million race by a head. Jockey John Velazquez won the Preakness for the first time in his 12th try.

While horse racing deaths in the US are at their lowest level since they began being tracked in 2009, adding another at the track hosting a Triple Crown race will only intensify the internal and external scrutiny of the industry. Those inside it have said they accept the realities of on-track deaths of horses while also acknowledging more work needs to be done to prevent as many as possible. In that vein, new national medication and doping rules are set to go into effect on Monday.

(More Preakness Stakes stories.)

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