- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 9, 2002

ELMONT, N.Y. Sarava used a strong stretch run to take the 134th Belmont Stakes yesterday as the biggest long shot (70-1) winner ever of the "Test of Champions.'' Triple Crown seeker War Emblem finished eighth after stumbling at the start. The colt never recovered from a near fall and led for only a few strides with a half-mile remaining.
Start It was a bad break for both War Emblem, Artax Too and Like a Hero. War Emblem went to his knees (above) after one step with jockey Victor Espinoza nearly being unseated. Artax Too slipped leaving the No.1 post and slammed into Like a Hero, costing both several lengths.
Wiseman's Ferry took the early lead as expected, though the opening quarter mile of 24 seconds was slower than projected. Medaglia d'Oro continued his Triple Crown run of good starts for second, while Sarava was outside for fifth.
Backstretch War Emblem was boxed along the rail behind three horses and didn't find any room until nearing the final turn. Wiseman's Ferry gave way after a slow half-mile of 48 seconds with Medaglia d'Oro seizing the lead. Proud Citizen was stalking outside. War Emblem finally slipped inside Wiseman's Ferry to gain a clear lane with a half-mile remaining, but the move cost the colt his final reserves, and he quickly surrendered the lead. Sarava started moving on the outside for fourth.
Final turn War Emblem was clearly beaten despite laying second midway on the turn. He was spent although Espinoza used the whip intensely for the first time in the Triple Crown. Medaglia d'Oro took the lead leaving the turn, and Sarava went outside for second.
Stretch It was clearly a two-horse race, and Sarava quickly ended the mystery, pulling ahead with three-sixteenths mile remaining after the pair ran a few strides together.
Finish line Sarava's winning margin was only one-half length, but Medaglia d'Oro never again challenged. Sarava covered 1 miles in 2:29 3/5 and paid a Belmont record $142.50. Proud Citizen pulled up lame after finishing fifth and was vanned from the track.
Rick Snider


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