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National Treasure wins the Preakness in a Triple Crown clouded by horse deaths

National Treasure, with jockey John Velazquez, front right, edges out Blazing Sevens, with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., second from left, to win the148th running of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, on Saturday in Baltimore.
Nick Wass
/
AP
National Treasure, with jockey John Velazquez, front right, edges out Blazing Sevens, with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., second from left, to win the148th running of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, on Saturday in Baltimore.

A horse named National Treasure won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, the second leg of the Triple Crown. The win handed trainer Bob Baffert a record-setting victory, hours after he had to put down an injured horse, and coming upon his return to the race after being banned last year.

National Treasure entered Saturday's race at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore as the second betting choice behind Mage, who pulled off a longshot victory at the Kentucky Derby earlier this month. But in the end, Blazing Sevens came in second by a narrow margin and Mage took third.

It's jockey John Velazquez's first Preakness win, and a record eighth Preakness win for Baffert.

"This horse deserved it. We all thought it was a good horse," Baffert told NBC Sports after the win.

A string of recent horse deaths have overshadowed this year's Triple Crown races.

In the eight days leading to the Kentucky Derby earlier this month, seven horses died at Churchill Downs.

Hours before Saturday's main event in Baltimore, Havnameltdown, a horse trained by Bob Baffert, was euthanized after the 3-year-old colt injured its ankle during an earlier race.

"Havnameltdown went bad at the top of the stretch, you saw it around the turn and he sustained a really severe injury of his left front ankle," Dr. Scott Hay, the on-call veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, told TVG. "It was to such an extent that it was basically impossible to transport him and they had to euthanize him humanely on the grounds immediately."

His rider Luis Sáez was flung off the horse. The jockey complained of leg pain after the fall and was taken to a nearby hospital, according to the NBC Sports broadcast.

"We are just devastated," Baffert tweeted. "This is a shock to everyone at our barn who love and care for these horses every day. Hanvameltdown was obviously hit pretty hard coming out of the gate. We don't know if that contributed to the injury, but we will be fully transparent with those reviewing this terrible accident. Right now, our thoughts are with Luis Saez and we are hopeful he will be okay."

It's Baffert's first time in a Triple Crown race since 2021 due to the trainer's suspensions stemming from disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit's failed drug test.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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