A horse named National Treasure won Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. The victory gave trainer Bob Baffert a record victory, hours after he had to put down an injured horse and as he returned to the race after being suspended last year.
National Treasure entered Saturday’s race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore as the second betting choice behind Mage, who led by a length at the Kentucky Derby earlier this month. But in the end, Blazing Sevens came in second by a narrow margin, and Mage came in third.
It’s jockey John Velazquez’s first Preakness winand a record eighth Preakness win for Baffert.
“This horse deserved it. We all thought he was a good horse,” Baffert told NBC Sports after the win.
A string of recent horse deaths has overshadowed this year’s Triple Crown race.
In the eight days leading up 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 his ankle during an earlier race.
“Havnameltdown went bad at the top of the stretch, you saw it around the turn, and he suffered a really serious injury to his left ankle,” Dr. Scott Hay, the vet for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, told TVG. “It was to such an extent that it was virtually impossible to transport him and they had to humanely euthanize him on the spot immediately.”
His rider Luis Sáez was thrown from 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’re just devastated” Baffert tweeted. “This is a shock to everyone in our stable who loves and cares for these horses every day. Male Vameltdown was obviously hit pretty hard when he came out of the gate. We don’t know if that contributed to the injury, but we will be completely transparent with those reporting this terrible accident. Right now, our thoughts are with Luis Saez and we hope he will be okay.”
It is 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.