Union Rags Wins Belmont
But the buzz is gone without Triple Crown threat
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 9, 2012 6:06 PM CDT
Union Rags, right, with jockey John Velazquez, holds off Paynter, with jockey Mike Smith, to win the Belmont Stakes.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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(Newser) – The departure of I'll Have Another and thus the lack of a Triple Crown bid turned the Belmont Stakes today into just another horse race, but it still proved to be a dandy. Union Rags nipped Paynter at the wire in a photo finish. A crowd of 85,811 cheered as the horses battled down the stretch, and Union Rags—with jockey John Velazquez aboard—barely caught the front-runner at the end.

The finish was another thriller in the final leg of the Triple Crown, and hard luck trainer Bob Baffert was on the losing end each time. I'll Have Another used two stirring stretch drives to beat Baffert's Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Union Rags, trained by Michael Matz, finished a disappointing seventh in the Derby and skipped the Preakness.