Kentucky-bred National Treasure led from start to finish and held off a determined charge from Blazing Sevens to win the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1), the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, by a head at Pimlico on May 20. The front-running victory marked the ninth consecutive year that the Preakness was won by a Kentucky-bred.

Owned by the partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Shoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, and Catherine Donovan, and trained by Bob Baffert, National Treasure, under John Velazquez, completed the 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.12 over the fast main track. It was a record-setting eighth win in the Preakness for Baffert and the first Preakness score for Velazquez.

Breaking from the rail against six rivals, National Treasure went straight to the front and took the lead easily on his own. Following fractions of :23.95 and :48.92, National Treasure traveled six furlongs in 1:13.40. He was then tackled by Blazing Sevens and the pair hooked up at the top of the stretch. They battled bravely through the lane, brushing near the sixteenth pole, but Velazquez coaxed National Treasure to the wire to prevail narrowly. Mage, the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, finished third.

“What a moment,” said winning rider John Velazquez. “All I can say, when you ride your best and you try to ride your best and the horse responds to everything you want to do, that’s all it takes. The horse giving you everything they can, and that’s what you hope for, and he did. He fought the whole way. From the three-sixteenths pole home, he put in a really good fight. He did not want to let that horse pass. And that’s what champions do. He got it done for me.”

A $500,000 yearling acquisition at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale in 2021, National Treasure, who was bred in Kentucky by Peter Blum Thoroughbreds, finished second in last year’s American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita and was third behind juvenile champion Forte in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) to conclude his 2-year-old season. This year, he finished third in the Sham Stakes (G3) and was fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). National Treasure is by Quality Road out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Treasure.