Controversial trainer Bob Baffert was victorious as he returned from a 2-year suspension in Triple Crown races as National Treasure won a thrilling stretch duel with Blazing Sevens to capture the Preakness Stakes. It was an emotional victory for Baffert in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, as Kentucky Derby winner Mage finished in third place.
Baffert was emotional after the win, as he was fighting off tears. Seven races prior to the Preakness, Baffert lost Havnameltdown, when that horse broke his left front fetlock in the Chick Lang Stakes. Havnameltdon continued to run after that, but the horse had to be euthanized after the race because of the damage done to the bone, which is similar to the ankle.
“This business is twists and turns and ups and downs,” Baffert said. “We had a horrible race. I was totally wiped out after that horse got hurt. Losing that horse really hurt. It’s been a very emotional day.”
National Treasure’s victory was well earned, as Blazing Sens challenged him throughout an exciting stretch duel. Jockey John Velazquez earned the first Preakness victory of his storied career.
“He fought the whole way,” Velazquez said. “He put up a really good fight. That’s what champions do.”
Mage was done in by the slow pace of the 1 3/16-mile race. The powerful come-from-behind Kentucky Derby champion needed a faster pace that would have allowed him to mount a major charge and take the race away from Bob Baffert’s horse.
National Treasure paid $7.80 to win, $4 to place and $2.60 to show. Blazing Sevens paid $5 to place and $2.80 to show. Mage paid $2.40 to show.
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