Belmont Stakes (gr. I) victor Sarava became the first Classic winner to be retired to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement center in Georgetown, Ky., when he arrived the morning of Sept. 29.
Co-owners Gary Drake of Louisville and Paul and Susan Roy of Great Britain donated the 13-year-old stallion to the organization. The stallion shipped in from the Appleton family's Bridlewood Farm near Ocala, Fl. Among his offspring are 2011 grade II winner Gladding and 2011 juvenile stakes colt Sarava's Dancer.
"Sarava has been a special horse to all of us," Drake said. "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. They do a marvelous job with their retired stallions."
Sarava's greatest victory—and one of the game's biggest upsets—came when he ended War Emblem's bid for the Triple Crown by capturing the 2002 Belmont at odds of 70-1. Not only was Sarava the longest shot winner in Belmont history, but his victory came before what was then the largest crowd ever assembled for the race: 103,000 in attendance at Belmont Park
"Sarava is the first Classic winner to retire at Old Friends," said the facility's founder, Michael Blowen. "We are thrilled that Gary and the Roys would trust us with his great stallion and grateful for the generous endowment. 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."
Bred in Kentucky by Bill Entenmann's Timber Bay Farms, Sarava was sired by 1984 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Wild Again
and is out of the Deputy Minister
mare Rhythm of Life
. He was a $190,000 purchase from the 2000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic yearling sale when selected by agent Buzz Chace for owner Ernie Paragallo. Paragallo pinhooked Sarava in 2001, selling him for $250,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Feburary sale of 2-year-olds in training. He was purchased for Mr. and Mrs. Roy by English bloodstock agent Richard Galpin.
Beginning his career on the turf in Europe for the Roys, Sarava failed to break his maiden. He returned to the U.S., where Drake bought in under the name New Phoenix Stable, and got his first win going two turns at Churchill Downs
. Although a minor injury kept the budding 3-year-old off the Derby trail in 2002, he returned with a vengeance for trainer Ken McPeek to demolish the field in the Sir Barton Stakes on Preakness Day at Pimlico
before going on to his Belmont score.
His career boasted three wins and three seconds from 17 starts, with earnings of $773,832.