Belmont Stakes

Saturday June 9, 2012: Belmont Park

The Day Before: Friday at the Stakes Barn

Union Rags is dried off after his bath. The Dixie Union colt, trained by Michael Matz, endured a difficult trip in the Kentucky Derby and finished seventh; he did not take part in the Preakness.
Guyana Star Dweej grabs his exercise rider's hat while being bathed. The son of Eddington is trained by Doodnauth Shivmangal.
Ravelo's Boy, a son of Lawyer Ron, returns to the barn after his morning exercise.

Five Sixteen, a gelding sired by Invasor, walks the shedrow.
Atigun joins other Belmont contenders for a bath and a look at the photographers gathered to document the morning's activities.
I'll Have Another, winner of both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, joins trainer Doug O'Neill outside the stakes barn for a noon press conference.

After the announcement that I'll Have Another has been scratched from the Belmont Stakes because of a tendon injury, his owner, Paul Reddam (back to camera) and members of Team O'Neill console one another.
Uno Mas Mario! The words on the tee shirt express the hope, now gone, that jockey Mario Gutierrez and I'll Have Another might win the Belmont Stakes and with it the Triple Crown.

Race Day

Lava Man, retired racehorse and now Doug O'Neill's stable pony, leads the way as I'll Have Another (left, in background) is brought into the Belmont winner's circle for a retirement ceremony before the big race.
His saddle removed for the last time, I'll Have Another leaves the winner's circle and the racing life.
As post time approaches, Unstoppable U and Junior Alvarado enter the track. This will be only the third start for the colt, one of two contenders entered in the race by trainer Ken McPeek.

Optimizer, Corey Nakatani up, joins the post parade. The English Channel colt, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, also competed in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
My Adonis, ridden by Ramon Dominguez and trained by Kelly Breen, has the same owners and trainer as last year's Belmont winner, Ruler on Ice.

The race begins: from left, Union Rags and John Velazquez, Unstoppable U and Junior Alvarado, Street Life and Jose Lezcano.
With the withdrawal of I'll Have Another, Dullahan (Javier Castellano up) has become the favorite to win the Belmont. The Dale Romans-trained colt was third in the Kentucky Derby.
Longshot Atigun (Ken McPeek's other trainee), Julien Leparoux up, gains on the leaders as Paynter (#9) and Union Rags battle it out in the stretch.
Union Rags and John Velazquez win the Belmont Stakes. Mike Smith, on runner-up Paynter, comes in second once again, having lost both the Derby and the Preakness by a nose on Bodemeister. Paynter, like Bodemeister, is trained by Bob Baffert.
Though nobody knew it at the time, this would be the last race for Union Rags. The following month he was diagnosed with a tendon injury and was retired a few days later.
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