ESPN Horse Racing

Prado has always been able to win
By Dave Goldberg
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Edgar Prado has always been able to win races. He was the leading rider in his native Peru, led North America in victories three times and has more than 4,000 wins in a 19-year career.

Edgar Prado
Jockey Edgar Prado rides Sarava to the winner's circle after winning the 134th Belmont Stakes.
But never in his dreams did he believe he would ride a 70-1 shot to victory in the Belmont Stakes, thwarting War Emblem's bid for the first Triple Crown in 24 years on Sarava.

Sarava's trainer, Ken McPeek, wasn't surprised

"He's only lost two races for me since he's been riding for me,'' McPeek said of Prado. "Of course, one was the Kentucky Derby and the other was the Preakness. But he's five-for-seven in stakes races he's ridden for me.''

Some numbers:

Prado, who turns 35 next Thursday, had 536 wins in 1997, 470 the next year and 402 in 1999, each time leading the nation.

His win total dropped when he moved from Maryland to the more competitive New York tracks but his money total increased. Last year, he had 259 wins but his horses earned $14.1 million, fourth best in North America.

Still, this is the first time he was won either a Triple Crown or Breeders Cup race, although he was second twice in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile.

He rode for McPeek this spring in the Derby and Preakness, finishing seventh in on Harlan's Holiday in the Kentucky as the favorite and fourth in Maryland. Until Saturday, he considered his biggest thrill winning the 1991 Budweiser International aboard Leariva.

Now his biggest win is clear although he was a bit remorseful about ending the Triple Crown hopes of War Emblem, ridden by his friend, Victor Espinoza.

On Saturday, McPeek instructed Prado to let Sarava to relax early. From the outside of the 12-horse field, he broke alertly and settled into fifth place, at the back of the lead back in the 1 1/2-mile race. At the turn for home, he made his move and held off Medaglia d' Oro to win by a half-length.

"We went into the race positive. We knew he could turn it around today,'' Prado said. "We were in good position all the way around. When I called on him, he responded well. It was like a dream come true.''

Prado has bigger dreams. In a way, he said, he was sorry for Espinoza, who probably lost his chance when his horse stumbled out of the gate.

He had some perspective on that.

"We're both professionals,'' he said. "We are friends and we both want to win when we ride against each other.

"But our business needs a Triple Crown to attract more people. I would like to see it. I'd would like to ride it''

McPeek ends bad week with greatest win

War Emblem's Triple bid foiled at Belmont