Sunday, June 10 2012
UNION RAGS STATES HIS CASE IN THRILLING BELMONT STAKES
ELMONT, N.Y. – All trainer Michael Matz wanted was a chance for Union Rags to show what kind of horse he is. Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park, the hard-luck colt got that chance and the result was a thrilling victory over Paynter in the 144th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes.
Coming off a troubled-trip seventh in the Kentucky Derby, Union Rags was brilliantly ridden by new jockey John Velazquez in the 1 ½-mile Belmont, which lost its marquee horse on Friday when Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another was retired with an injured tendon. In the Derby and Preakness winner’s absence, the crowd of 85,811 – the largest for a non-Triple Crown Belmont and the sixth-largest in Belmont Park history – made Derby third-place finisher Dullahan the slight favorite in the “Test of the Champion,” with Union Rags a close second choice, also at 5-2.