The 144th running of the Belmont Stakes is in the books, and Union Rags is your winner. The horse who fell short of expectations in the Kentucky Derby and then skipped the Preakness Stakes finishes off on a high note with a thrilling come-from-behind victory.
Paynter was the horse who was on the other side of that come-from-behind victory. Paynter jumped ahead to start the race as most predicted, but unlike most predictions, held the lead through to the final stretch. In fact, Paynter was a good deal ahead at the halfway mark, and actually was leading about halfway through the final stretch. But Unstoppable U slowly fell behind as Union Rags came up from behind fast and hard.
The final half of the final stretch was incredibly intense, with both jockeys really pushing their horses. Union Rags took the lead right at the very end to steal the win away, while Atigun rounded out the top three. Race favorite, Dullahan, was second-to-last at seven lengths back rounding the final turn and has seriously fallen short of expectations.
Dullahan had become the favorite after I'll Have Another withdrew and was forced to retire due to a tendon injury. I'll Have Another had a lot of people hoping for a Triple Crown victory, and a lot of the pre-race buzz was tempered due to the injury.
Stick with this storystream for updates, results and more from the 2012 Belmont Stakes. For full time horse racing news and analysis, check out And Down The Stretch They Come.