Sarava winner of the 2002 Belmont Stakes
War Emblem goes to his knees at the start
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A record crowd of 103,222 came to Belmont Park on a sunny, cool Saturday hoping to witness history being made, as War Emblem attempted to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner. However, they witnessed history of a different kind as Sarava upset the field as the longest shot on the tote board and as the highest-paying horse to win in the history of the Belmont at a whopping $142.50 for a $2 win ticket.
When the gate opened, War Emblem stumbled badly and dropped to his knees, nearly falling, causing him to fall back in the field right away and denying him the early lead and front-running trip he has been known for. Instead, 19-1 shot Wiseman's Ferry led the procession through the first 3/4 mile, setting easy fractions of 24.11 and 48.09 and 1:12.38 before giving way to War Emblem who had been rushed up to the front by this point. But having to come from as far back as fifth place tired him out and he quickly dropped out of contention at the top of the stretch, relinquishing the lead to Medaglia d'Oro who ran the mile in 1:37.01. Medaglia d'Oro held the lead for 1/4 mile after which Sarava, who had been stalking the pace the whole way, made his move and got up to the front. Sarava and Medaglia d'Oro duelled through the final furlong, but the big longshot fought best and held his 1/2 length lead all the way to the wire, with a final time of 2:29.71 for the 1 1/2 mile trip over a fast track. Sunday Break, who was unhurried early, gradually progressed through the field but could not sustain his bid in the stretch and finished third 9 1/2 lengths behind Medaglia d'Oro.
It was ironic that after trainer Ken McPeek went into the Triple Crown with early favorite Repent, who dropped out from injury, and Harlan's Holiday, who was the eaten Derby favorite and then lost to another trainer, he would be the one to break up a Triple Crown in the Belmont. He said after the win, "I believe that when something bad happens to you, something equally as good happens to you. I'll take it any way I can get it. And I got it."
Purse: $1,000,000 Distance: 1 1/2 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 12 Sarava Prado 142.50 50.00 22.40 8 Medaglia d'Oro Desormeaux 16.00 10.60 5 Sunday Break Stevens 7.10
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