BALTIMORE – And so the troubled sport of horse racing came on a warm and still May Saturday to crumbling old Pimlico Race Course, to have itself defined at the distant extremes of grief and euphoria by a pair of three-year-old bay colts, bought for a total of $700,000 by separate groups of people with very big dreams and even bigger means.
One horse named Havnameltdown, whose ankle snapped in flight, and who was put to death in the deep dirt on the far turn, behind an impotent black screen that shielded neither humans nor horses from the reality of the moment, while party music thundered in the background, and who was carted away in a big white wagon that’s always called a horse ambulance even though sometimes it’s a horse hearse. It was as bad as it gets.
And one named National Treasure, who more than five hours later went to the lead straight from the starting gate in the 148th running of the Preakness, the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, a good horse who nevertheless had won just one of his five races, with a slender – even more slender than most – 51-year-old jockey named John Velazquez straddling his back, making magic with his soft hands in pursuit of victory in one of the few great American races he had not already won. Together, man and horse navigating the oval as if trying not to make any noise, doling out speed and effort only as it was needed until in the end there was just enough to hold off Blazing Sevens in a sensational stretch duel, part race and rodeo, and relegate Kentucky Derby winner Mage to third place, meaning that there will be no Triple Crown on the line in the June 10 Belmont Stakes. It was as good as it gets.
And. There was more. Impossibly more, because context is everything and on Saturday at Pimlico there was more context than beer.
Both Havnameltdown’s death, statistically barely significant, yet in the moment both powerfully meaningful, gutting and likely unforgettable for most who witnessed it; and National Treasure’s victory came 14 days after the Derby, in which Mage’s win came at the end of 10 days in which seven horses died at Churchill Downs, and a record five were scratched from the body of the race, the most in nearly a century. The sport was reeling.
And the kicker: Both Havnameltdown and National Treasure are – well, were and are – trained by Bob Baffert, the 70-year-old, white-haired, shades-wearing Californian who less than a decade ago was the face, voice, and substance of racing, the sport riding on his shoulders, with two Triple Crowns – American Pharoah in 2015, ending a 37-year-drought; and Justify in 2018. But who, with the disqualification of Medina Spirit, crossed the finish line first in the 2021 Derby but failed a post-race drug test (this is all still in litigation), as the most recent in a series of drug positives and questionable explanations (which he still stands by), became the face, instead, of a sport in deep trouble.
Which is why, 55 minutes before the starting gate opened for the Preakness, Baffert stood outdoors in fading sunlight, near National Treasure’s stall in the Preakness stakes barn, and said, “This… game… is… brutal.” And… complicated. (Keep reading). He watched the Preakness from Pimlico’s ancient indoor saddling paddock, where he had watched on a small, 1990’s vintage TV as the track washed away in a thunderstorm minutes before Pharoah’s victory; and where on the same little screen he struggled to find Justify running through the fog three years later. There is a bigger TV now, mounted high on a wall. But Baffert seemed somehow and almost purposefully smaller, his reputation (although not the power of his stable) diminished by the events of the last three years even as he fights to recapture it. (The long-delayed Horse Racing Safety and Integrity Act – HISA – goes into effect Monday, just in the nick of time, or much too late. We’ll see.)
Baffert was flanked by two of the sons who were often with him on the Triple Crown runs: Bode, 18; and Forrest, 33. “My boys,” Baffert would say after the race (he has two other sons, and a daughter). His wife, Jill, was nearby. Much of the scene could have been clipped from ’15 or ’18, but that is misleading, because nothing is the same as in those years (not for Baffert, not for those who have chronicled his work, and not for the sport, writ large, all of whom are scarred). And the memory of Havnameltdown hung in the air.
It was five-and-a half-hours earlier, in the sixth race, when Havnameltdown, a 3-year-old bay colt making his first start in three months, and favored at 4-5 odds to win the Chick Lang Stakes, a six-furlong sprint, moved astride Ryvit exiting at the far turn leaving the three-eighths pole, as the crowd rose for the pitched battle soon to follow. Baffert had already won a race on the card, a dominant four-length victory by Arabian Lion in the fourth race. This looked to be another one. “He was rolling,” Baffert would say later. “Looked like he was going to win.” Abruptly, Havnameltdown bobbled once, and then twice, his head dipping awkwardly toward the earth – always an ominous sign – before pitching hideously forward, heaving jockey Luis Saez over his neck and onto the track, and then trying to do the thing for which he was given life: To run. But he did not run. He staggered. The crowd gasped as one, another sound that once heard, is never forgotten.
Two ambulances arrived, a small one for the jockey and a big one for the horse. As W.C. Heinz wrote 74 years ago in the too-often quoted and stubbornly relevant Death Of A Racehorse, “There was a station wagon moving around the track toward them, and then, in a moment, the big green van that they call the horse ambulance.” Those two makeshift black curtains were held up by track workers, ostensibly – to create a barrier between the audience and the activity, which is that Havnameltdown was found to have a “non-operable left fore fetlock injury,” (in human terms, a severely broken ankle) and was euthanized. Saez was taken to the hospital reporting leg pain; Baffert said later that Saez is “okay.”
We are just devastated. This is a shock to everyone at our barn who love and care for these horses every day. Hanvameltdown was obviously hit pretty hard coming out of the gate. We don’t know if that contributed to the injury, but we will be fully transparent with those…
— Bob Baffert (@BobBaffert) May 20, 2023(Video) 2023 Santa Anita Derby (FULL RACE) | NBC Sports
There was a time – not that long ago – when a breakdown might have played more like an inconvenience. That time has passed, and the world has grown more sensitive to racing’s central paradox: Horses do not choose to race, and sometimes die (although there has been improvement in the last decade, from more than two deaths per one thousand starts, to 1.25 last year; it will never be zero).Havnameltdown’s death threw a pall over the day. Baffert said, “It’s the most sickening feeling a trainer can have. And we grieve when it happens. You just hate to go back and see that empty stall. We will feel bad about it for a while.” Baffert’s grief is surely real. But the larger reality is that Baffert will have to earn back trust in areas of horse safety and welfare from a large part of the public. He (and his wife) will view that as unfair, and time may prove it so. But this is today’s reality.
After Medina Spirit’s Derby DQ (again, still in the courts, and Baffert could eventually win. The outcome might lie years in the future), Baffert was handed a laundry list of punishments, including a two-year ban from the Derby (which he has won six – or seven – times), and a ban last year from all three Triple Crown races. The Preakness was Baffert’s return to the sport’s biggest stage, and that narrative was no less central than Mage’s attempt to win the second leg of the Triple Crown. Poor Mage.
Just seven horses started the Preakness, the smallest field since 1986; Mage was the only Kentucky Derby starter to roll back in the Preakness, the first time that’s happened since Triple Crown winner Citation was the only Derby winner that started in the 1948 Preakness. None of this will be engraved on the trophy. Mage went off as the 8-5 favorite; National Treasure was 3-1.
Velazquez started National Treasure from the inside post, never a good spot, but less damning in such a small field. National Treasure had raced five times, but just once since January, a dull fourth-place finish in the April 8 Santa Anita Derby, a key Kentucky Derby prep. He seemed to be a respectable, but unspectacular colt. Johnny V, as he is known in the game, nudged National Treasure into the lead and several paths out from the rail, forcing others to pass wide or risk an inside move. Then he nursed the pace: 23.95 seconds for the first quarter, 48.92 for a half-mile, a crawling 1:13.49 for three quarters. “I knew there wasn’t a lot of speed,” said Velazquez. “So I pumped it to the outside and if those other horses wanted to go faster, I would let them go.”
None did, a miscalculation that left National Treasure in control of the race. Longshot Coffeewithchris ran with him early. Mage dawdled in fourth, not challenging. “No speed in the race, horses were going easy,” said Gustavo Delgado, Jr. assistant to his father, who trains Mage. “Those horses, you don’t beat them with that pace.”
It was Blazing Sevens who made the big run. Ridden by reigning Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr. and trained by two-time Preakness winner Chad Brown, Blazing Sevens hooked National Treasure in the stretch, and they bumped each other several times, rough riding; but could not pass. “The key was Johnny slowing the pace on the backstretch,” said Ortiz. “Just could not get past him.”
National Treasure dipped his head at the wire, stretching what looked like a nose to a very short, official head. In the dank, dark paddock, Baffert threw his head back and was embraced by his sons. Over against a wall, Jill Baffert wept. It was a nice moment, in a very small bottle, a slice of what had been and what makes the sport breathe. But it was just a moment, while Havnameltdown is just a memory. Much work lies ahead.
Tim Layden is writer-at-large for NBC Sports. He was previously a senior writer at Sports Illustrated for 25 years.
How to Watch the 2023 Black-Eyed Susan: Date, streaming, post time, odds and more - NBC Sports? ›
How can I watch the Black-Eyed Susan? This year, coverage of the $300,000 race will air exclusively on Peacock. Sign up here to watch all of Peacock's LIVE sports and events, including horse racing.How can I watch Black Eyed Susan race 2023? ›
The 98th Black-Eyed Susan race, which takes place on Friday, May 19, will also stream on Peacock from 4:30 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET.Is Black Eyed Susan race televised? ›
Ahead of the 2023 Preakness Stakes on Saturday, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes will see some of the best three-year-old fillies race at Pimlico Race Course on Friday, May 19. Post time is set for 5:44 p.m. ET, and the broadcast will be available to watch on Peacock.How can I watch the Black-Eyed Susan race? ›
How can I watch the Black-Eyed Susan? This year, coverage of the $300,000 race will air exclusively on Peacock. Sign up here to watch all of Peacock's LIVE sports and events, including horse racing.What time is the Black-Eyed Susan race 2023? ›
Pate, Frosty O Toole, and Miracle all scratched. Post time for the $300,000 race is 5:44 p.m. ET. With several lightly raced horses entering the starting gate on Friday, you'll want to see what racing insider and Beyer Speed Figure maker Bob Weir has to say before making any Black-Eyed Susan Stakes picks.What time is Black-Eyed Susan race? ›
Post time for the $300,000 race is 5:44 p.m. ET. With several lightly raced horses entering the starting gate on Friday, you'll want to see what SportsLine racing insider and Beyer Speed Figure maker Bob Weir has to say before making any 2023 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes picks of your own.Who won Black-Eyed Susan race 2023? ›
Preakness Stakes. Taxed surpassed Hoosier Philly on the front stretch as the grays surged ahead of the strong contender Faisa, trained by Bob Baffert, to claim victory in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. This triumph marks Taxed's second win out of eight races and improves their record to two wins out of four races in 2023 ...How can I watch the races on TV? ›
Sky Sports Racing TV Channel
Sky Digital (415) - SSR is available on the Variety package 0333 009 2816 Virgin Media Ireland (418) SSR is available on the Virgin Full House TV package – to order, call 1890 940 070. What is the email address for the studio? email@example.com.
With the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in our rearview, horse racing fans and bettors now look forward to the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown. The big race will be broadcast on FOX and the FOX Sports App.What channels carry the Preakness? ›
The 148th Preakness Stakes will be run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday, May 20 (5/20/2023) with the main event post time at 7:01 p.m. ET. The 2023 Preakness Stakes will be broadcast on NBC and Universo, and can be streamed live on fuboTV (free trial), Peacock and other live TV services.
What time is the 2023 Preakness race? ›
Mage heads to the Preakness Stakes after becoming the first Kentucky Derby winner in more than 50 years with a Latino jockey, trainer and owner. Moving one zone east, to the Rocky Mountain time zone, it's at 5:01 p.m.Can I stream the Preakness? ›
If you're streaming on a PC, phone or tablet you can watch on NBCSports.com, Peacock Premium or the NBC Sports app. You could also check out a live TV streaming service, all of which offer free trials.Is the Preakness on NBC? ›
NBC Sports is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, the Breeders' Cup World Championships, Royal Ascot, and Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series.What time is Belmont Stakes 2023? ›
This year the Belmont Stakes will take its traditional place as the final leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday, June 10, 2023 -- when the race is televised live on FOX, beginning at 4PM ET, post time approx. 6:50PM ET (5:50PM CT, 4:50PM MT and 3:50PM PT).Where can I watch Susan Hayward movies? ›
Watch Susan Hayward Movies on STARZ.What day is Black-Eyed Susan Day? ›
Black-Eyed Susan Day is a chance to break out the fashion, the wallets, and of course the hats, before the chaos of Preakness day begins. The iconic Black-Eyed Susan cocktail at the Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico on May 19, 2023.What is Preakness Black-Eyed Susan Day? ›
Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico Racecourse meant the return of timeless traditions, from betting to flashy fashion. It's the eve of the main event, the Preakness Stakes. But locals and visitors, alike, showed out on Friday, even if it meant playing hooky.Where is the Black Eyed Susan located? ›
This Black-eyed susan is native to the central US from Wisconsin to Texas. It grows to only about 4 ½ ft, and its flowers are distinguished by blunt tips on each petal.Who won the Black Eyed Susan? ›
Taxed raced to an upset victory in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on Friday, closing strong for a convincing win over Hoosier Philly and Faiza. Claimed by owner Richard Bahde last year for $50,000, Taxed won this $300,000 race at Pimlico by 3 3/4 lengths over Hoosier Philly.What do you serve at a Preakness party? ›
- CRABS. No matter if it's crab cakes, cream of crab soup, crab dip, or crab flavored chips, crab should be a part of your food menu. ...
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- BLACK EYED SUSANS.
How many races are on Black-Eyed Susan Day? ›
Black-Eyed Susan Day Dates & Schedule
The event takes place in mid-May, two weeks after the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Events that take place throughout the day include 14 horse races, handicapping seminars, book signings and the Hooves & Heels fashion event.
The mile and one-eighth test, for three-year-old fillies is traditionally run the Friday before the Preakness and has long been recognized as the middle jewel of the traditional filly Triple Crown, which also includes the Kentucky Oaks Stakes and the Acorn. Black-Eyed Susan events are customary.How tall does Brown Eyes Susan get? ›
R. triloba grows 2-5 feet tall and becomes spreading and bushy (up to 4 feet wide) if not crowded by other plants.Does Laura win the race? ›
But Laura won the race. Was there ever any doubt? She wins the silver cup, an Oleson family heirloom, which Harriet was reluctant to part with.What is black eyed Susan Pimlico? ›
Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is a Grade II American Thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old fillies run over a distance of 11⁄8 miles on the dirt annually at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.What race is the Preakness at Pimlico? ›
The Preakness Stakes is an American thoroughbred horse race held on Armed Forces Day which is also the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.Can I watch Racing TV for free? ›
Be in control with Racing TV Extra - watch dedicated, uninterrupted streams from all of our racecourses. You don't need Sky! Watch via our free Large Screen Apps including Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Apple TV.How can I watch racing without cable? ›
The best way to watch NASCAR without cable is to get a live TV streaming service like Sling. You'll get access to live TV channels including Fox, FS1, NBC, and USA Network, making Sling an easy way to live stream NASCAR online.Is at the races app free? ›
The At The Races app gives you FREE access to our library of races from the UK, France, US, Hong Kong, Dubai, Australia and South Africa.Will Road to the Horse 2023 be televised? ›
Road to the Horse 2023 will take place at the Kentucky Horse Park on March 23-26, 2023. Viewers will be able to watch the event via the livestream on PlutoTV. Follow the event schedule and tune in to watch the action.
Who are the contenders for the Belmont Stakes? ›
- By HRI Foreign Staff — The world of horse racing is abuzz with anticipation as the prestigious Belmont Stakes draws near. ...
- National Treasure. ...
- Forte. ...
- Angel of Empire. ...
- Tapit Trice. ...
- Arabian Lion. ...
- Final Thoughts.
For Tiz the Law, the Belmont Stakes triumph awarded $535,000 plus a spot in racing history. Bred in New York by Twin Creeks Farm, Tiz the Law became the first New York-bred to win the Belmont Stakes since 1882.Will the Preakness be on Peacock? ›
US viewers can watch Preakness Stakes coverage on NBC, NBCSports.com, and Peacock.Who won the Preakness 2023 horse racing? ›
National Treasure wins 2023 Preakness Stakes, Mage finishes third. National Treasure edged Blazing Sevens in a photo finish to win the 148th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday.What horses are running in the 2023 Preakness Stakes? ›
|Red Route One||10-1||5|
|Chase The Chaos||50-1||2|
As it stands, seven horses will run the race at Pimlico, including only one horse that ran the Derby. It's a small, weak field. But the race must go on, and there's still gambling to be done. Of course, the one holdover from the Kentucky Derby is Mage, the Derby winner.What time is post time at Pimlico? ›
The post time is approximately 7:01 p.m. ET. The first race at Pimlico will start at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday. There are 14 races on tap, and the Preakness is the 13th race of the day.What is the fastest time for the Preakness? ›
Secretariat maintained the top spot all the way to the finish line while setting a record-time finish at the Pimlico Race Course at 1:53 on the dot.Where can I place a bet for the Preakness? ›
There are numerous online platforms and mobile apps you can use to make your horse racing bets from home like BetOnline, Bovada, TwinSpires, BetUS, TVG and FanDuel Racing.How many people watch the Preakness? ›
Saturday's Preakness Stakes race segment earned a 4.8 rating and 7.9 million viewers on NBC, up 4% in ratings and 5% in viewership from last year (4.6, 7.5M) but down 17% and 16% respectively from 2016 (5.8, 9.4M).
What is the fastest time to get into the Belmont Stakes? ›
2:24 flat – Secretariat (1973; 11⁄2 miles). Secretariat also holds the fastest 1⁄2-, 3⁄4-, 1- and 11⁄4-mile fractions in Belmont history.
The Racing Festival features 16 stakes races across 3 days of action.What are the three races in the Triple Crown? ›
Affirmed, (foaled 1975), American racehorse (Thoroughbred) who in 1978 became the 11th winner of the Triple Crown of American horse racing—the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.What channel is Preakness 2023? ›
The 2023 Preakness will air on Saturday, May 20 from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. ET on CNBC. Coverage will then switch to NBC at 4:30 p.m. and will run until 7:30 p.m. ET.Who won Black-Eyed Susan 2023? ›
And for most of the 1 1/8 miles, Hoosier Philly looked like the best horse on the track. She led the vast majority of the race, going to the front of the pack early on, but Taxed made her move toward the top of the stretch and ran down Hoosier Philly for the win.Can I watch the Preakness on Peacock? ›
Peacock, owned by NBC, offers some live sports to go along with its on-demand entertainment. The $5-a-month tier gives you access to the Preakness Stakes, English Premier League soccer, the Olympics, Sunday Night Football, select WWE events, Indy Car races and some PGA golf tournaments.
Taxed raced to an upset victory in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on Friday, closing strong for a convincing win over Hoosier Philly and Faiza. Claimed by owner Richard Bahde last year for $50,000, Taxed won this $300,000 race at Pimlico by 3 3/4 lengths over Hoosier Philly.What is black-eyed Susan Pimlico? ›
Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is a Grade II American Thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old fillies run over a distance of 11⁄8 miles on the dirt annually at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.What app can I watch Peacock on? ›
- Amazon: Peacock is supported on Fire TV and Fire Tablet devices with Fire OS 6 and above.
- Android TV: ...
- Apple TV: ...
- Chromecast: ...
- Google TV: ...
- Hisense VIDAA: ...
- LG Smart TV: ...
Peacock's expansive live sports programming includes Premier League, MLB Sunday Leadoff, Sunday Night Football, Notre Dame Football, NASCAR, NTT IndyCar Series, SuperMotocross World Championship, golf, Olympic sports, and much more.
Can you watch all games on Peacock? ›
Experience it all with LIVE and on-demand games, 24/7 channels, highlights, and Originals.