Bob Baffert choked again tears and his voice cracked whereas attempting to juggle the sentiments of one in every of his horses successful the Preakness Stakes and one other being euthanized on the identical monitor.
“This enterprise is twists and turns, the ups and downs,” he mentioned. “To win this — shedding that horse in the present day actually damage. … It has been a really emotional day.”
Nationwide Treasure received the Preakness on Saturday in Baffert’s return to the Triple Crown path following a suspension, nevertheless it got here hours after one other 3-year-old colt, Havnameltdown, was put down due to a left leg damage in an undercard race. The victory ended Mage’s bid for the Triple Crown in a conflicting scene just like that of two weeks earlier when he received the Kentucky Derby within the aftermath of seven horses dying in 10 days at Churchill Downs.
Nationwide Treasure, the 5-2 second selection, held off hard-charging Blazing Sevens down the stretch to win the 1 3/16-mile, $1.65 million race by a head in 1:55.12.
“He fought the entire manner,” jockey John Velazquez mentioned. “He put up a extremely good struggle. … That is what champions do.”
Nationwide Treasure paid $7.80 to win, $4 to put and $2.60 to point out. Blazing Sevens paid $5 to put and $2.80 to point out.
Mage completed third after going off because the 7-5 favourite, paying $2.40 to point out. His defeat, attributable to a tempo a lot slower than the Derby, means there is not going to be a Triple Crown winner for a fifth consecutive 12 months.
“I adopted each single step of the best way, the winner,” Mage jockey Javier Castellano mentioned. “However these horses, with tempo, no velocity within the race, onerous to catch.”
Very like Castellano received the Derby in his sixteenth attempt, Velazquez broke an 0-for-12 drought within the Preakness.
“It has been some time,” Velazquez mentioned. “The success that I had in different races, not having received this one — it was undoubtedly lacking, so particular to have it.”
Baffert had a rollercoaster day, again at Pimlico Race Course from a suspension that saved him from getting into a horse within the Preakness final 12 months. The joys of victories by Nationwide Treasure within the Preakness and Arabian Lion in an earlier stakes race contrasted with the agony of Havnameltdown’s dying.
Black boundaries had been propped up on the grime monitor whereas the horse was put down. All of the whereas, 2Pac’s “California Love” blared from the infield audio system at what is meant as an annual daylong celebration of thoroughbred racing.
By night, Baffert was celebrated for successful the Preakness for a report eighth time, breaking a tie with Nineteenth-century coach R. Wyndham Walden. In 2018, Baffert matched Walden with seven wins on the Baltimore race with Justify, who went on to grow to be the game’s thirteenth Triple Crown winner — and Baffert’s second, after American Pharoah ended a prolonged drought for the game in 2015.
This was Baffert’s first Preakness in two years due to a ban stemming from 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s failed drug take a look at that led to a disqualification in that race. Medina Spirit was Baffert’s most up-to-date Preakness horse, ending third.
Baffert did not arrive in Baltimore till Thursday this week, searching for to maintain a decrease profile than traditional given the questions which have dogged him and clouded his fame. A Corridor of Famer and a longtime face of horse racing, Baffert sought to maneuver previous his suspension when requested Friday.
“We simply carry on shifting ahead,” he mentioned. “We’ve different horses to fret about. A variety of it’s noise, so you retain the noise out and proceed working.”
Whereas horse racing deaths within the U.S. are at their lowest stage since they started being tracked in 2009, including one other on the monitor internet hosting a Triple Crown race will solely intensify the inner and exterior scrutiny of the trade. These inside it have mentioned they settle for the realities of on-track deaths of horses whereas additionally acknowledging extra work must be performed to stop as many as doable.
In that vein, new nationwide treatment and doping guidelines are set to enter impact on Monday. The federally mandated Horseracing Integrity and Security Authority, which already regulated racetrack security and different measures, will oversee drug testing necessities for horses that ought to standardize the game nationwide for the primary time.