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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Hallandale Beach, FL, January 27, 2024 — An amazing racing program came to a fitting conclusion when 2023 Preakness winner National Treasure served notice that his four-year-old season may serve to catapult him to stardom. The reactions from his connections and the rest of the Pegasus VIII participants:

Bob Baffert (National Treasure, 1st): “I’m proud of him. He ran his race. He showed up. That’s all you can ask for as a trainer. He was prepping well for it.”

“I’ve always thought he was that good a horse. He was just very immature and he’s getting better and better, the way he’s been training. He trained much better than he was going into the Breeders Cup. We felt good about it, but you still need a lot of luck. You have to ship well. You have to break well.”

“I knew there was going to be a hot pace and but Prat and I we talked about it. You can’t take his speed away. You can’t be worried about one horse. Just let him do his thing and he did. That’s why he won.”

I loved our post and the way he broke. He broke well. Prat, he’s really good out of the gate. He’s a smart rider. We picked different scenarios. I said, ‘the only scenario is when the gate comes open, you’ve just got to get away from there. We know that Johnny (Velasquez) is going to be really aggressive and you need to be aggressive also.’ He did and he was in a good spot.”

I knew they were flying but when is saw :23 and change I said, ‘well that’s manageable.’ Good horses, they keep running.”

Todd Pletcher (Crupi, 3rd; Dynamic One, xx; Grand Aspen, xx): “I thought Crupi ran great. He was obviously way back early but he closed really well to be third, so we’re pleased with that. The other two didn’t seem to fire. Both jocks indicated the kickback was pretty abrasive. No plans yet. We’ll let the dust settle and come up with one.”

Dallas Stewart (Hoist the Gold, 4th): “It was great. He had a great trip. Johnny rode him great. He relaxed, 46 and change, no issues. Everything was good, we just got outrun. It was a good race.”

Brad Cox (First Mission, 9th): “Just didn’t handle the track at all. A lot of dirt hitting him in the face. He didn’t seem like he wanted to go forward through it. Luis [Saez] said at the half-mile pole he didn’t move forward when asked. Pretty simple watching the race on television, I kind of thought going up the backside he was struggling with the ground. Regroup and see what happens.”


Flavien Prat (National Treasure, 1st): “He’s very brave. Obviously, a great job by Bob [Baffert]. He’s always on point. It’s been a great pleasure to be riding him.”

Junior Alvarado (Señor Buscador, 2nd): “It’s very hard to come from way back on this track. But I was happy when he was picking it up and I’m excited. But I could feel the last sixteenth of a mile he was getting tired from making that huge run from the back. My horse ran his eyeballs out. He gave me a helluva run. He gave me everything he had today. My horse ran his heart out today.”

John Velazquez (Hoist the Gold, 4th): “I broke well and did what I needed to do to get there, and it wasn’t good enough for him to hold off the winner. A mile is perfect for him. One turn. He got to the first turn pretty well. We got to the backstretch and the second turn and he had to switch to his right lead on the turn and he got messed up in his own stride.”

Paco Lopez (O’Connor, 5th): “It was a little rough at the beginning of the race. He didn’t break very well. After that I tried to position my horse. I used him at the three-eighths [pole] and he responded to me. He felt very good, very comfortable. I think he may need to go longer.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. (Dynamic One, 7th): “I think the track was pretty fast. My horse broke good and they ran away from me. I let him settle, let him relax, and he switched off. I thought I was going to make just one run and it didn’t work out for me. When I asked him he just stayed steady, and they never came back. The track was pretty fast and I think it helped the speed today. The winner ran great.”

Jose Ortiz (Grand Aspen, 10th): “He broke OK. I thought we were going to probably be sitting third or fourth but unfortunately he was getting a lot of dirt and he wasn’t happy at all. The track is fast and the kickback was brutal. He never got comfortable with it. He never jumped on the bit.”

Winning Time: 1:50.51        

Winning Margins: neck, 4 ½, 6 ¼

Winning Payoff: $7.20

Fractions: :23.18, :46.32, 1:11.21, 1:37.07

Order of finish: National Treasure, Senor Buscador, Crupi, Hoist the Gold, O’Connor, Il Miracolo, Dynamic One, Nimitz Class, First Mission, Trademark, Grand Aspen, Skippylongstocking (DNF)

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