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National Treasure gives Baffert a record eighth Preakness (G1) victory
Saturday, May 20, 2023

Preakness S. (G1) day ended in jubilation for the Bob Baffert barn as National Treasure won a stretch-long battle with Blazing Sevens by a head to give his trainer a record eighth victory in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

Baffert also won the Sir Barton S. on the undercard with Arabian Lion, but the stable was rocked by the injury and loss of Havnameltdown in the Chick Lang S.

“We started out great, we had a horrible race and we've been totally wiped out after [Havnameltdown] got hurt,” said Baffert after the Preakness. “The emotions of this game, there's so many responsibilities a trainer has, employees, horse and jockey safety, and then to win this...Losing that horse today really hurt. I'm very happy for Johnny [Velazquez, who earned his first Preakness victory] that he got the win. It's been a very emotional day.”

National Treasure rewarded his connections in his ability with a front-running score in the 1 3/16-mile contest. Velazquez put the bay colt on the lead in the first furlong and guided the field of seven through a half-mile in a very moderate :48.92. Around the final bend, Blazing Sevens moved to second and the stage was set for the dramatic stretch drive.

With neither horse willing to give way, the pair was nearly inseparable the rest of the trip. National Treasure willed himself to get to the wire just in front of Blazing Sevens, with Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage two lengths back in third.

"I loved [the early fractions],” Baffert said. “If we could make the easy lead and just cruise around there, we knew he would love the distance. Once I saw the half-mile fraction, there was no excuses. That horse came to him...I thought he was going to go by us. But our horse dug in. It was a great race.”

National Treasure began his career with a Del Mar maiden win in September, then followed it up with a second in the American Pharoah S. (G1) and was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) to close out his 2-year-old campaign. A third in this year’s Sham S. (G3) and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) were his two 2023 starts prior to Saturday.

“He won early and he showed us he was a nice horse, but we knew that he needed distance,” Baffert said of his still-developing colt. “It just took him a while. He is still hasn't really filled out into his frame.”

National Treasure is owned by SF Racing LLC,  Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC and Catherine Donovan. He has earned $1,335,000.

Baffert’s Preakness winners include Justify and American Pharoah, who both went on to win the Triple Crown. National Treasure is his first Preakness winner who did not start in the Kentucky Derby.

Baffert 2013