After establishing slow opening splits, National Treasure turned back a serious challenge from Blazing Sevens to prevail by a head in Saturday’s 148th running of the $1.65 million Preakness at Pimlico. Kentucky Derby winner Mage stalked a few lengths back from the start but lacked the necessary finishing kick turning for home, finishing an even third in the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Bob Baffert earned a record eighth Preakness win, the victory proving emotional following the fatal breakdown of Havnameltdown in the sixth race. The Hall of Fame trainer returned to the Triple Crown after missing the last four races due to suspension, and Baffert registered a record-extending 17th Triple Crown race win.
By Quality Road, National Treasure was off as the 2.90-1 second choice among seven runners.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, a winner of multiple editions of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont, completed a personal Triple Crown milestone, guiding National Treasure through :23.95, :48.92, and 1:13.49 fractions on a short and controlled lead. The bay colt came under a serious pressure leaving the far turn from Blazing Sevens, who stalked up close before advancing four-wide to challenge in upper stretch.
National Treasure dug in for a fight and Blazing Sevens kept plugging away on the outside, the pair exchanging multiple bumps, and National Treasure gained the upper hand late to secure the narrow win. The winner completed 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.12.
“Looking at the pace, I didn’t think we were going to go any faster than that, though I was hoping anyway,” Velazquez said.
SF Racing, Jack Wolf’s Starlight Racing, Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, and Catherine Donovan campaign National Treasure.
Blazing Sevens, who was off at 9-2 for two-time Preakness winner Chad Brown, wound up 2 1/4 lengths better than Mage, who broke better than he did recording a late-running win at Churchill Downs. However, the marginal pace worked against lightly-raced Mage, who left the starting gate as the 7-5 favorite.
It was a couple more lengths back to Red Route One in fourth, and Chase the Chaos, Perform, and Coffeewithchris completed the order.
Multiple Grade 1-placed at age two, including a third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), National Treasure opened 2023 with a third as the favorite in the Sham (G3) in mid-January. He missed a planned start in March’s San Felipe (G2) due to a minor foot issue, returning from a three-month layoff with a fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).
National Treasure showed a pair of bullet workouts in preparation, added blinkers, and the projected pacesetter took advantage of a favorable set up on the front end.
Bred in Kentucky by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, National Treasure sold for $600,000 as a yearling at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga August sale. He’s the first stakes winner from the Medaglia d’Oro mare Treasure, a half-sibling to four stakes winners.