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A New York State of Racing

The Real Union Rags takes the 2012 Belmont Stakes

Union Rags 642 X 350 Belmont Stakes
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.
An elated trainer Michael Matz said that, “Today we got to see the real Union Rags today.”
Michael 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 Malibu.  


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Older Comments about The Real Union Rags takes the 2012 Belmont Stakes...

He is still growing in that big frame of his....
UR will beat them both!
Agree, Matz will avoid Bode like the plague. Notice he won't say where he'll run next. If Baffert sends Bode to Haskell guarantee Matz will go to Saratoga. Problem is he can't avoid both Bode & Paynter.
If that's the real Union Rags then I don't expect him to be winning many more races this year. Not unless he avoids the likes of Bodemeister at all costs.
If Mike Smith closes off the rail, Paytner wins the race...
  • derek.getty · You could "if" the race to death. If someone pushed Paynter, he folds like a cheap suit. If Paynter doesn't break well he doesn't get the lead so easy. If UR didn't have to wait so long, he probably wins by 2 or 3 lengths. · 1780 days ago
after the 2nd race i was solid on rags. only put 40 to win, but besides the derby and today it will be sometime that we get him at those odds? congrats to union rags and look forward to his many races to come
as i selected 2 days ago for Belont Stakes Union Rags and Paynter, and i also told that Paynter will give start to finish and no body will catch him , but Union Rags did, so i bet both of them, i lost my trifecta and superfecta because at the last moment i changed Atigan to Unstoppable U and Atigan came in, it iwas my great mistake, after studying Atigan fo so many days, i do'nt know why i changed? may be due to the changing of odds.
Hats off to U.R and his connections... B.C Classic should be a race of the ages
if healthy for the rest of the year, look for paynter and union rags in the bc classic at s.a. in november to challenge game on dude.
Insert tossed Laparoux in the last sentence.
Rags showed a lot of courage to fire on the rail! Nice piece my friend.
This is what happens when you put a good jockey on who knows the track and was determined to give the horse a good break. JV said he studied the break at the Derby and was going to make sure Rags broke well. Matz should have Laparoux after the Florida Derby.
I wish I'll Have Another had been able to run, but Union Rags was my Derby pick so I'm glad he got to redeem himself. I just really want to see a triple crown winner in my lifetime!
So glad he got to show his stuff 2 day
I have no doubt that this horse could have easily win the triple crown. I just wish the had Johnny V from the get go....Plus the post position really didn't favor him in the Derby.
Awesome...Redemption for my Derby top!
Great race! Right up there with Rags to Riches/Curlin
This is redemption for the Kentucky Derby, I figured Dullahan wouldn't run well. http://handicrapper.blogspot.com/
It was a great race, but the real IHA would have won by 6 lengths. IMO.

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.

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