Photo: Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Union Rags won the 144th
running of the 2012 Belmont Stakes with a patient rail-skimming ride by John
Velasquez. Union Rags defeated Paynter by a neck after waiting for an opening
to move. When Paynter drifted off
the rail Union Rags drove through to victory by by a neck in front of the screaming crowd of 85,811. The
loss by Paynter marks the third straight second place finish in this year’s Triple
Crown for Bob Baffert, Zayat Stables, and Mike Smith.
trainer Michael Matz said that, “Today we got to see the real Union Rags today.”
Matz got off to a great start on Belmont
Day by winning the Easy Goer with
another three year-old Teeth of the Dog.
The race was named for the 1989 Belmont winner who broke up Sunday Silence’s bid for a Triple Crown
with an eight-length victory. The
crowd was strongly supporting Matz’s horses by making Teeth of the Dog a 2.05-1
favorite and Union Rags a 5-2 second choice in the Belmont.
The time of the race was 2:30.42, which
is six seconds behind Secretariat’s track record time of 2:24. Union Rags paid
$7.50, 4.20, 3.40.
After the race Union Rags owner Phyllis Wyeth said, “We had a dream and it came true.”
Jockey John Velazquez praised Union Rags, “The horse responded all the way to the wire.”
Twelve horses were entered
to run in the Belmont Stakes. Some of the glamour was lost when the Triple
Crown possibility I’ll Have Another
had to scratch from the race due to the onset of tendonitis in his left front
leg. The scratch made it clear that the trail to the three year-old classics is
a very difficult. In this year’s Belmont there were only four stakes winners in
the field of eleven. Dullahan won the Blue Grass (G1) and Union Rags has three graded stakes
victories over the past two years. My
Adonis won a listed stake as a two year-old and Street Life took the Broad Brush at Aqueduct in March.
Union Rags’s win in the Belmont Stakes marks the end of the first half
of the three year-old racing season.
There are still 23 graded stakes left for the sophomore runners in 2012
with four of then being grade one’s: the Haskell, King’s Bishop, Travers, and