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National Treasure’s Post 1 Brings Back Pleasant Memories For Baffert | 2023 Preakness Stakes News
National Treasure (Maryland Jockey Club)

National Treasure’s Post 1 Brings Back Pleasant Memories For Baffert | 2023 Preakness Stakes News

After the Monday draw for Saturday’s 148th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert got a phone call from his son Bode. He gave his dad the news: National Treasure, Baffert’s horse for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, had been assigned the not-so-popular rail post position.

“The only time I like the one is after the results,” Baffert said with a laugh.

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Getting Post 1 for this year’s Preakness brought back memories of 2015, when American Pharoah, who would go on to win the Triple Crown, got the rail and Baffert’s other horse in the race, Dortmund, got Post 2.

“After that draw, [wife] Jill called me from Dulles [International] Airport and asked me how we drew,” Baffert said. “I told her Pharoah got the one and she said, ‘should I turn back and go home (to California)?”

Baffert had another chuckle at that memory because, of course, it turned out okay as American Pharoah sloshed down the sloppy Pimlico Race Course track the easiest of winners. He romped to a seven-length win, while Dortmund was fourth.

National Treasure, who is owned by SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madakat Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC and Catherine Donovan, is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 8.

After breaking his maiden in his first start as a 2-year-old, the son of Quality Road has raced in graded stakes, finishing second in the American Pharoah (G1), third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and, in his first start of 2023, third in the Sham (G3).

National Treasure has been ridden in all five of his starts by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who will be aboard again on Saturday.

“I think he fits here,” said Baffert, who has won the Preakness a record-tying seven times. “He will have to step it up. He is a horse that has not filled into his frame yet, but we have always been high on him. He hasn’t really run a bad race.”

Baffert will equip National Treasure with blinkers for the Preakness. The colt wore them in his career debut as well as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

“We are going to put them back on to keep him a little bit more focused,” Baffert said. “I’m glad we are going to have them now that we are in the one. It’s not ideal being in the one, but it’s not the end of the world. Johnny knows the horse real well, and you still need a clean break, no matter where you draw.”

Baffert’s longtime assistant Jimmy Barnes said that National Treasure has settled in well at Pimlico since arriving Saturday evening.  

“He’s very relaxed here. The track is pretty quiet here,” Barnes said.  “He’s right where I want him to be.”

National Treasure went out for his morning exercise, a 1 3/8-mile gallop, when the track opened for training at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

“That’s pretty much our basic gallop if we’d be at home,” Barnes said. “We shipped in, gave them a walk day and just did a little lighter training (Monday). Today we were pretty much up on our normal training routine and should be up until the race.”