National Treasure wins Preakness Stakes, denying Mage Triple Crown bid

Bob Baffert’s National Treasure crossed the finish line first in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, ending Mage’s Triple Crown bid in the trainer’s return from suspension, and just hours after another of his 3-year-old horses were slaughtered on the track.

Baffert headed to the winner’s circle the same day his colt Havnameltdown went down with a fatal left leg injury in an undercard race. Baffert said he and his team were in shock.

It was another dark moment for a sport already reeling from the deaths of seven horses at Churchill Downs in a 10-day period leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Derby winner Mage finished third in the Preakness. Their loss means there will be no Triple Crown winner for the fifth consecutive year.

Earlier in the day, Mage was declared fit to race after bumping his head in his stall and taking a few stitches to close a cut above his right eye.

Co-owner and bloodstock agent Ramiro Restrepo said the Kentucky Derby winner hit his head Thursday, causing a superficial cut and receiving treatment from state veterinarians. Restrepo confirmed in a text message to The Associated Press on Saturday that Mage has resumed training without any interruption.

Veterinarians examined and cleared Mage and the other six Preakness horses to run in the $1.65 million race later Saturday. Pre-race scrutiny has been increased in Maryland, including the inspection of each horse in the larger races by Stronach Group Veterinary Director Dr. Dionne Benson.

First Mission, another leading Preakness contender, was scratched Friday on the advice of veterinarians who expressed concern about his left hind ankle. Five horses were scratched before the Derby two weeks ago, including favorite Forte.

Check back for more on the developing story.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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