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SARAVA (1999 - 2023)

Wild Again - Rhythm of Life, by Deputy Minister | 1999 Horse - (View Pedigree)


GEORGETOWN, Ky. – Aug. 28, 2023 – Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, Ky., is deeply saddened to announce that Sarava, the upset winner of the 2002 Belmont Stakes (G1), has died today.

According to the preliminary report from Dr. Colton Thacker at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, he was euthanized due to complications from a leg fracture. He was 24.

The dark bay thoroughbred was the first Classic winner to be retired to the farm on Sept. 29, 2012, thanks to his owners, Gary Drake, and Paul and Susan Roy of Great Britain.

Bred by Bill Entenmann’s Timber Bay Farms, Sarava, who was by Wild Again-Rhythm of Life, by Deputy Minister, was foaled in Kentucky on March 2, 1999.

Sarava, which is a Brazilian greeting that means “good luck,” began his racing career in Europe in 2001 as a 2-year old, where he ran three times, but never finished in the money.

The beautiful dark bay stallion was then sent to back to the United States and won his first start there in a maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 21, 2001 under trainer Burk Kessinger. He only ran one more time that year, where he finished second in an allowance race at Turfway Park.

He returned to the track in 2002 as a 3-year old with a new trainer, Ken McPeek, and after a minor injury kept him off the Derby trail, scored the best accomplishments of his career.

Following two second place finishes in allowance races, he bounced back and won the Sir Barton Stakes (Listed) on the Preakness Day undercard at Pimlico on May 18 for his first stakes victory.

His next race, however, is the one that put him into the history books when he upset the field and won the 134th running of the Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on June 8. Ridden masterfully by Hall of Fame Jockey Edgar Prado, Sarava, who went off at 70-1 odds, battled Medaglia D’Oro throughout the race after War Emblem, who was attempting to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, stumbled at the start.

Guided by Prado, Sarava took the lead coming out of the final turn, and at the wire got the win by a half-length over Medaglia D’Oro to become the longest shot ever to win the Belmont Stakes. He paid $142.50, $50.00, and $22.40. War Emblem, who would also become a retiree at Old Friends, finished eighth.

In 2005, as a 5-year old, and with a new trainer, Bob Baffert, Sarava finished sixth in an allowance optional claiming race at Del Mar. Following that race, he suffered a serious bout of colic and did not race the rest of the year.

He did return to the track in 2006 as a 5-year old, but was never the same. In the seven races he ran that year, he never finished in the money. He was retired following his last race on Aug. 22 where he finished fifth in the Saratoga Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G2) at Saratoga.

Sarava concluded his racing career with a record of three wins, three seconds, and $773,832 in earnings in 17 starts.

He began his stud career in 2005 at Cloverleaf Farms in Florida, and then was moved to Cloverleaf Farm in Kentucky in 2007. In 2008, he was sent to Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Fla. for the remainder of his stud career. His best progeny included stakes-winner, Gladding, as well as stakes-place runners Gorgeous Melody, Star of Sarava, and Sarava’s Dancer.

Sarava was pensioned in 2012 and, following conversations between then-Midway, Ky. Mayor Tom Bozarth and co-owners, Gary Drake, and Paul and Susan Roy, the then 13-year old stallion was donated to Old Friends and arrived at the farm on Sept. 29, 2012.

“It’s a sad day for our family and friends,” said owner Gary Drake when he heard the news. “We’ve all been Sarava fans since we met him in 2001. When you get into horse racing, you hope to have the opportunity to be involved with a horse like this. I mean it’s cliche, but people say it all the time, they (the horses) take you places you would never go otherwise, and certainly Sarava did that for us.

“He was a, a cool horse, a lot of fun to be around,” Drake continued. “And, he lived half of his life at Old Friends and was the beneficiary of having all of those visitors who came by his paddock to visit him and fed him carrots. He lived a good life there. I wish he was going to be around longer, but that’s the life with horses.”

“As everybody knows, he gave me one of the biggest thrills of my career,” said Edgar Prado, Sarava’s jockey in the Belmont. “When I moved to New York, he gave me my first Triple Crown winner. Everybody will remember him, not only for that, but as one of the biggest longshots in history to win the race.

“I was glad to see him recently at Old Friends,” Prado continued. “But I think the most important thing is that in the last years of his life, he’s spent quality time among so many good people that showed him love, showed him respect and admiration for what he has done for horse racing. It’s tough to see him go, but I think he felt the love from all the staff at Old Friends who did a super job.”

Added Michael Blowen, President and founder of Old Friends, “Sarava attracted so many fans to Old Friends. Most recently, a horse player said he bought a condo in Ft. Myers with his winnings from that race. But, to us, he was a lot more than the longest shot in the history of the Belmont Stakes who defeated fellow Old Friends retiree, War Emblem. He was proud, independent and, in his way, very lovable. And you can’t buy that … even at $142.50. We thank owner Gary Drake and friend Tom Bozarth for allowing us to care for Sarava for more than a decade.”


Belmont day, June 8, 2002. Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem bid to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. During the parade to the post, all eyes were on the nearly black colt. Parading with to post position 12 was another nearly black colt, but few paid him much attention. Sarava had won the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard and had run admirably since returning from the English turf as a two year old. Yet most regarded him as an afterthought entered by trainer Ken McPeek when favorite Harlan’s Holiday lost the Derby and Preakness, and the Kentucky-bred son of Wild Again went off at odds of 70-1.

The field broke from the gate. Prado placed Sarava in the colt’s favorite spot, stalking relaxed on the outside. War Emblem, who had stumbled at the start, gave way as suddenly star runner Medaglia d’Oro surged forward, and with him, splitting horses, the long shot Sarava. It was Sarava who grabbed the lead. The two dueled fiercely and Sarava leapt ahead by half a length to the wire. That Belmont day it was Sarava who went to the winner’s circle to receive the accolades for a race beautifully run. He had spoiled a potential Triple Crown, but he was the longest shot ever to win the Belmont, paying $142.50.

He competed against Funny Cide, Evening Attire, Perfect Drift and his other peers of the era until 2005 when with earnings of $773,832 in 17 starts he entered stud in Florida. Retired from stud, Sarava arrived at Old Friends September 29, 2012. “Sarava” is a Brazilian greeting that means “good luck” and we thank Gary Drake of Louisville and Paul and Susan Roy of Great Britain for our good luck, their donation of this great Belmont Stakes winner to Old Friends. —- Old Friends Press release 10/1/12 by Cindy Grisolia:
Sarava, winner of the 2002 Belmont Stakes, has been retired to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY. Co-owners Gary Drake of Louisville and Paul and Susan Roy of Great Britain donated the 13-year-old stallion to the organization.

Sarava arrived at Old Friends on Saturday, Sept. 29, from the Appleton family’s Bridlewood Farm near Ocala, FL, where he has stood stud since 2010.

Bred in Kentucky by Bill Entenmann’s Timber Bay Farms, Sarava was sired by 1984 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Wild Again and is out of the Deputy Minister mare Rhythm of Life. He career boasted three wins from 17 starts and earnings of $773,832.

Beginning his career on the turf in Europe, Sarava failed to break his maiden overseas. Returning to the U.S., a minor injury kept the budding three-year-old off the Derby trail in 2002, but he returned with a vengeance under conditioner Ken McPeek to demolished the field in the Sir Barton Stakes on Preakness Day at Pimlico.

Sarava’s greatest victory–and maybe one of the game’s biggest upsets–came three weeks later when, at 70-1, he ended War Emblem’s bid for the Triple Crown by capturing the 134th running of the Belmont Stakes.

Not only was Sarava the longest shot in Belmont Stakes history but his victory came before what was then the largest crowd ever assembled for the race: 103,000 in attendance.

“Sarava is the first Classic winner to retire at Old Friends,” said Old Friends founder, Michael Blowen. “We are thrilled that Gary would trust us with his great stallion and grateful for the generous endowment from him and the Roys.

“I also want to thank Midway Mayor and bloodstock agent, Tom Bozarth, for his assistance. I know Sarava’s fans will love to visit him,” continued Blowen. “To me, it’s like having Michael Jordan in my yard.”

“Sarava has been a special horse to the Roys and Drakes,” said Gary Drake. “He has done his job well on the track and in the breeding shed, and has earned a respectful retirement. We are pleased that Michael and the Old Friends’ staff will be caring for him,” added Drake. “They do a marvelous job with their retired stallions. Share sheet info – click here. Donate to sponsor Sarava. Receive a certificate and 8×10 photo

Donate to sponsor SARAVA.
Share sheet info click here.

Receive a certificate and 8x10 photo


March 2, 1999
Dark Bay
State Bred:
Gary Drake and Ms. Susan Roy
Timber Bay Farm
Kenny McPeek

17 Starts: 3 - 3 - 0, $773,832

Racing History:

At 3: Won Belmont S. (G1,12F), Sir Barton S. (8.5F)

Interesting Facts:
At stud at Cloverleaf Farms/FL in 2005; Cloverleaf Farms/KY in 2007; in Florida from 2008-2012. Donated to Old Friends in Kentucky in September 2012.

Joined Old Friends:

View Equibase
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