Belmont Stakes winner Sarava, now retired.

Belmont Stakes winner Sarava, now retired.

Barbara D. Livingston

Belmont Winner Sarava Retired Due to Suspensory Injury

Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Sarava, who had been preparing for the Oct. 2 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) has been retired after re-aggravating a suspensory injury that had kept him out of training for over a year following his Belmont score.

The son of Wild Again, out of Rhythm of Life, by Deputy Minister, captured the 2002 Belmont, defeating the likes of Medaglia d'Oro and War Emblem, who was trying to sweep the Triple Crown. Owned by New Phoenix Stable and Mrs. Susan Roy, Sarava retired with earnings of $773,832.

"They noticed a little filling in his right front leg," trainer Bob Baffert said. "He's not lame or anything, and it will heal up. But he's going to need four months, so Gary Drake and his partners decided to retire him. He's getting older now, and the timing gives him a chance to make next year's breeding season. It's a shame, because he was doing so well, he loves Belmont, and was coming up to the Gold Cup in such great shape. There aren't many horses who can run a mile and a quarter and he's one of them.

"He's been through a lot, this poor horse, with his injury and having surgery for a twisted intestine. Talk about bad luck. He's got to be one of the toughest horses I've ever had. And with his record and being by Wild Again, he should inject much-needed stamina to the breed. There have been a lot of people interested in standing him, but no decision has been made yet."

Sarava was first trained by Kenny McPeek, who saddled him to victories in the Sir Barton Stakes and Belmont, after which he was turned over to Baffert. He finally began to find his old form, finishing a fast-closing fifth, beaten one length, in the Suburban Handicap (gr. I), and fourth in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I), but was too close to the pace when fifth in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup (gr. II). On Monday, he breezed five furlongs in 1:01 1/5, but apparently suffered his injury in the work.