Belmont Winner, Favorite Depart; Saratoga Next
Updated: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 1:03 PM
Posted: Sunday, June 9, 2002 1:40 PM
Edited press release from NYRA
Photo: Mike Corrado
Sarava, holding off Medaglia d'Oro in the Belmont Stakes.
New Phoenix Stable's Sarava, who paid $142.50 as the longest priced Belmont Stakes winner ever, flew out of New York and back to Kentucky at about 8:30 a.m.Sunday morning.
"He came out of the race great," trainer Ken McPeek said. "He had a great week at Belmont and was training as good as ever." McPeek said he has no immediate plans for the Wild Again colt, although Saratoga's grade I, $1 million Travers on August 24th is a likely goal.
"Absolutely," McPeek said. "You'll see him at Saratoga."
Racing fans only have to wait 45 days for the opening of Saratoga Race Course, which will run from Wednesday, July 24 through Labor Day, Monday, September 2, with Tuesdays dark. Baffert Leaves With Unfinished Business
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem left Belmont Park Sunday morning, and trainer Bob Baffert left with still unfinished business.
He had come here once again to make history, and instead, for the third time, was denied the Visa Triple Crown when War Emblem ran a disappointing eighth after he stumbled badly at the start and bumped with eventual fourth-place finisher Magic Weisner in the Belmont Stakes.
"For us, the race was over at the start," Baffert said. "He can't have any horses in front of him. That's just him. He's a big, free-running horse. The shame of this whole thing is that all of those fans never got a chance to see the real War Emblem. That's what's disappointing to me. Silver Charm and Real Quiet at least got to run their races.
"Since the Preakness, we've fretted and worried and got this horse here the best way we know how, and then he never got his chance. It would be like Shaq getting ready to play in the NBA finals and then stubbing his toe and being unable to play. All of that work went for nothing, and that's what's hard."
There are now 16 horses that lost the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes, and three of them -- Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem -- were trained by Baffert.
"They've got to bump the Belmont up to $5 million if they want me to come back here," Baffert joked. "It's a lot of work to go through to get a horse to this race. The only good news is that I won't have to do any more interviews for a while."
Baffert and his fiancée, Jill Moss, are to be married on August 3. Moss has been with her future husband throughout the Triple Crown drama that ended at the Belmont start.
"When we saw the head-on replay, it put a new perspective on everything," Moss said. "We were just glad nobody got hurt. You come all this way and something like this happens. Three weeks of build-up gone in one jump. It was so deflating when he came out of the gate. Bob said, 'He's done. He's got no shot.'"
Despite War Emblem's loss, Moss said she still enjoyed the Visa Triple Crown series and hopes to be back next year.
"A few weeks before this year's Kentucky Derby, we didn't think we were going to be in it," Moss said. "My heart hurt for the horse. He tried so hard in all three races."
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