Sarava made his North American stakes debut a winning one when the Ken McPeek-trained colt rallied for an impressive victory over Withers Stakes (gr. III) runner-up Shah Jehan in the $100,000-guaranteed Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds on the Preakness undercard.
The winner, a son of Wild Again out of Rhythm of Life, by Deputy Minister, was full of run down the backstretch as Shah Jehan, under moderate pressure from No Pressure in second, set fractions of :23.35, :47.51, and 1:12.03 under Jerry Bailey. Edgar Prado swung Sarava off the rail at the top of the stretch and roared past the two front-runners to win going away by four lengths. Shah Jehan was a half-length clear of No Pressure. Final time for the 1 1/16 miles on a track upgraded to fast was 1:44.11 after a one-mile split of 1:37.61.
"The race worked out beautifully," said Prado. "He broke well and saved ground on both turns. The off track did not bother him at all. Passero (track superintendent John Passero) is the man. He always does a great job with this track surface."
Sarava, racing for New Phoenix Stable, was a $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Calder 2-year-old purchase but began his career in England, where he failed to win in three starts as a 2-year-old. He won his American debut in November for trainer Burk Kessinger and has been in McPeek's barn for his last three starts. The Sir Barton was his first win for McPeek. He paid $8.20 to win and combined with Shah Jehan (part of a 3-5 favored entry with Pass Rush) for a $15 exacta.
"In all honesty, we were thinking of running in an allowance race in Louisville," McPeek said after the Sir Barton. "But coming here seemed to work out pretty well. At the head of the lane I thought we had it won, because I knew he would finish." (Chart, Equibase