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Bob Baffert’s National Treasure wins Preakness, hours after another of his horses was euthanized

Bob Baffert choked again tears and his voice cracked whereas making an attempt to juggle the sentiments of one in every of his horses profitable the Preakness Stakes and one other being euthanized on the identical observe.

“This enterprise is twists and turns, the ups and downs,” he stated. “To win this — dropping that horse right now 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 harm in an undercard race. The victory ended Mage’s bid for the Triple Crown in a conflicting scene much 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 stated. “He put up a extremely good combat. … That is what champions do.”

Nationwide Treasure paid $7.80 to win, $4 to put and $2.60 to indicate. Blazing Sevens paid $5 to put and $2.80 to indicate.

Mage completed third after going off because the 7-5 favourite, paying $2.40 to indicate. His defeat, brought on by a tempo a lot slower than the Derby, means there is not going to be a Triple Crown winner for a fifth consecutive yr.

“I adopted each single step of the best way, the winner,” Mage jockey Javier Castellano stated. “However these horses, with tempo, no pace within the race, laborious to catch.”

Very like Castellano received the Derby in his sixteenth strive, Velazquez broke an 0-for-12 drought within the Preakness.

“It has been some time,” Velazquez stated. “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 coming into a horse within the Preakness final yr. 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 loss of life.

Black limitations had been propped up on the dust observe 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 profitable 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 change into 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 check 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 regular given the questions which have dogged him and clouded his popularity. 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 stated. “We’ve got different horses to fret about. Lots 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 observe internet hosting a Triple Crown race will solely intensify the inner and exterior scrutiny of the trade. These inside it have stated they settle for the realities of on-track deaths of horses whereas additionally acknowledging extra work must be achieved to forestall 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.