The thrill of horse racing ignites a passion that extends to more than just sport. Horse racing is a symphony of noisy hooves, pulsating energy, as well as the unspoken bond that exists between jockeys and their horses. With every stride, the atmosphere of a horse race crackles with anticipation.
In this highly exhilarating world, the ending is never certain, and underdogs can shatter expectations, leaving an unalterable mark on history. Horse races aren’t just a competition. These races are enchanting spectacles designed to captivate, electrify and remind people of the raw power and grace that horses boast.
This thrill continued with the Preakness Stakes, the 2nd leg of the ever-popular Triple Crown. This year, the Preakness Stakes were held at the historic Pimlico Race Course located in Baltimore. While the Kentucky Derby is typically the star attraction for most individuals, the Preakness can just be as delightful if not more as it promises each year to be a captivating race complete with underdogs looking to leave their mark.
Unveiling an Underdog Story:
The Kentucky Derby produces some of the most remarkable stories and this year’s edition was no different. During the 2023 Kentucky Derby, a 15-1 longshot known as Mage, defied all expectations to claim victory. Trained by Gustavo Delgado, Mage secure his first Triple Crown race win at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Mage, the 3-year-old Chestnut Colt emerged as an expected champion and captured the hearts of over 15,000 attendees. With just one victory in 3 previous starts, Marge kicked off the 2023 Kentucky Derby as the overlooked challenger. Forte, the racehorse that was favored to win the race, had experienced a late scratch owing to a bruised right foot which consequently created an opening for Mage to shine.
Expertly guided by Castellabo, the chestnut colt demonstrated an intense level of determination and resilience that allowed him to outpace Two Phil to secure the first position. Mage’s victory marked a notable milestone for not just the horse but the jockey as it was their first-ever win at the Kentucky Derby after many attempts.
This unexpected victory reminded everyone of the unpredictable nature of horse races where underdogs have just as many opportunities to seize the spotlight as established winners. This win effectively set the stage for Mage for a potential Triple Crown title. So far, only 13 horses have successfully achieved this feat since 1975 making it a milestone.
Paying homage to Preakness
After the prestigious accomplishment at the Kentucky Derby, Mage entered the Preakness Stakes for the first time as a favorite. The Preakness acquired its name from a New Jersey bread horse, Preakness, who is said to have won the first edition of the Dinner Stakes in 1870.
The original Preakness was bred at Preakness Stud located in Wayne. Even though it has since been decades, this horse’s legacy has lived on through the esteemed race. As the home of the Preakness, Garden State offers its fans various ways to enjoy the races whether at New Jersey racetracks, sports bars, casinos, or at online casinos.
In addition, fans can also experience the thrill of Preakness Stakes on networks such as NBC Sports, NBC, Peacock, CNBC, and more. For those looking for a more immersive experience, however, nothing beats watching horse races at tracks like Monmouth Park and Meadowlands. These tracks not only provide fans with simulcast betting but also feature live racing and dedicated sportsbooks where gamblers can place their wagers while enjoying the festivities on the big screens.
In the 2nd leg of the 2023 Triple Crown, the Preakness witnessed an intense battle for supremacy. Although Mage was the crown favorite after his momentous victory during the Kentucky Derby, in the end, it was National Treasure that would clinch the highly coveted title. Despite National Treasure’s triumph, the Kentucky Derby winner Mage did finish in 3rd place, which kept the crowd on edge until the last second.
Under the guidance of his jockey John Velazquez and trained by the illustrious Bob Baffert, National Treasure displayed his swiftness and determination, successfully holding off a latish surge by Blazing Sevens to secure the title.
It is worth noting that although National Treasure made an early move to the front of the pack, the colt, jockeyed by the accomplished Velazquez, won by a narrow margin, which is a testament to Mage’s prowess. Mage faced a challenging journey arriving at this year’s Preakness after getting caught in traffic before the races kicked off.
It is also vital to mention that last year’s winner, Rick Strike, was notably absent during this year’s Preakness. According to sources, Rick Strike opted to concentrate on the final leg of the Triple Crown, which is equally as exhilarating if not more. National Treasure’s win at the 2023 Preakness Stakes marked a huge achievement for the colt, as well as his trainers and connections.
National Treasure only notched its maiden win last year in September. Although National Treasure did not qualify for the Kentucky Derby that year, the colt truly displayed its resilience at the Preakness this year.
For National Treasure’s jockey, John Velazquez, the win held immense personal significance as the jockey finally added the Preakness Stakes title to his Hall of Fame resume. This recent win joins Velazquez’s previous triumphs at the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.
The races experienced plenty of challenges
Both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness experienced numerous roadblocks despite the exhilarating races on display. Leading up to this year’s Kentucky Derby, 7 horses lost their lives including Freezing Point and Chloe’s Dream.
These incidents sparked public outcry and reignited the ongoing debate surrounding the safety of horses. Both Churchill Downs and the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore faced scrutiny and criticism as the venues grappled with the aftermath of the unfortunate events.
The Preakness also faced its fair share of emotional moments. National Treasure’s victory was realized against the backdrop of the unfortunate loss of several horses. One of those notable losses was a Baffert-trained horse known as Havana Meltdown.
These exciting races are both a cause for celebration and concern as the loss of these incredible horses continues to serve as a stark reminder of the inherent risks associated with horse racing. As the dust settles from the Preakness Stakes, the attention has now turned to the upcoming Belmont Stakes, which will be the final leg of the Triple Crown.