The $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1) is the final leg of American racing's Triple Crown and the highlight of the New York racing season, contested at the marathon distance of 1 1/2 miles, one complete trip around the main track at Belmont Park. With Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner I'll Have Another scratching out of the race due to injury, American racing will have to wait for the next Triple Crown winner. A field of 11 three-year-olds went to post in the 144th "Test of the Champion" before 85,811 fans on a mostly sunny Saturday with intermittent showers and temperatures near 80.
As expected, Kentucky Derby winner Dullahan was sent off as the 5-2 favorite off his third place finish in the Kentucky Derby 5 weeks back. In to challenge him included 11-4 second choice Union Rags, seventh in the Derby last out, and 4-1 third choice Paynter, winner of an allowance after finishing second in the Derby Trial (G3).
Union Rags on the rail takes the lead from Paynter with Atigun behind in third.
Jockey Mike Smith sent Paynter to the lead first time past the stands and he set fractions of 23.72, 49.23, 1:14.72, and 1:38.85 while stalked by 12-1 Unstoppable U and Union Rags. Entering the stretch, Paynter held a short 1 length lead through 10f in 2:04.39, but jockey John Velazquez sent Union Rags through along the rail. The pair dueled briefly but in the final 1/16 mile, Union Rags pushed his neck in front to get the win in 2:30.42 over the fast main track. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to 20-1 Atigun third. Favored Dullahan raced 9th early but failed to rally, checking in 7th beaten 11 lengths.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show
3 Union Rags Velazquez 7.50 4.20 3.40
9 Paynter Smith 5.10 3.90
4 Atigun Leparoux 10.60
Winning Time: 2:30.42
$2 Exacta 3-9 31.40
$2 Trifecta 3-9-4 496.00
$2 Superfecta 3-9-4-1 1,906.00
Left: Union Rags in the winner's circle with owner/breeder Phyllis Wyeth (in the wheelchair), her husband Jamie Wyeth (holding his head), and trainer Michael Matz (far left). Phyllis Wyeth said, "It was my dream and he made it come true. Nobody would have gotten through on the rail other than Johnny. That was unbelievable. He just said, 'Move over, I'm coming.' He believed in the horse, and Michael got him there."
Right: The winning connections celebrate with the trophy. Trainer Michael Matz said, "I'm just glad for Phyllis and the horse, we just got to see the real Union Rags."
Left: Union Rags in the paddock before the race. Jockey John Velazquez said, "I just wanted to get in a good rhythm that he feel comfortable where he was. He did everything really well behind the horses. Coming down the stretch, tell you the truth, it was my intention to come in there, but when (Atigun) came over in the 1/4 pole and went out next to me. I said well, 'This my opportunity to get on the rail.' When he got close to Mike Smith, and I saw Mike put the whip left-handed, I said, well, this could be my chance. I rather stay here and wait for the hole to open and it just happened I got lucky."
Right: Union Rags took a while to settle in the winner's circle. Trainer Michael Matz said, "We always thought this horse had Triple Crown potential. When we trained him, we gave him four races as a 2-year-old and gave him a rest and had a good plan. He never missed a beat. His first race couldn't have been any easier. He had trouble in his second race and his third race. I do really think that this horse, when he has a clean trip and can show himself, is one of the best 3-year-olds in this crop. Whether he could have done something against I'll Have Another, I don't know, but it sure would have been fun to see."
Left: Union Rags heads to the barn after the race.
Right: Second place finisher Paynter returns after the race. Trainer Bob Baffert said, "I need a Triple Crown for seconds. I really thought he was going to win today. He was doing so well. I just feel bad for Mr. Zayat. The poor guy, he's been tortured on this Triple Crown. Turning for home, I knew we had the horse to do it and that horse snuck up on him there. He's still a young horse, still learning how to run." Jockey Mike Smith added, "He ran tremendous. I'm such a perfectionist. (Union Rags) just shouldn't have gotten through on me. I'd like to see what the outcome would have been if he wouldn't have.
Left: Third place finisher Atigun in the post parade. Jockey Julien Leparoux said, "There was a clean race for everybody, so that's very important. For us, as the jockeys, for the people watching the race, it's great to see a clean race. I hope everybody had fun today. We had a good trip. We stayed inside most of the trip. I could get him out around the turn, I thought I had a good chance to win, he made a nice move. He ran a big race, so that was good."
Right: Seventh place finisher and beaten favorite Dullahan returns after the race. Trainer Dale Romans said, "The race unfolded like it looked on paper to me. Paynter ran a big race, they all ran big, Union Rags ran big; we just didn't have a finishing kick. This is a good horse, a very good horse. I was sure he was going to run a really big one. It's disappointing. I'm not going to make excuses for him. I said all along I thought he could handle the dirt. I think it puts Union Rags in the picture for an Eclipse Award, I would think. There's a lot of year left, and with I'll Have Another out, it's definitely in his own hands."
Left: The horses break from the gate for the Belmont Stakes.
Right: The Belmont Stakes jockeys pose before the race. Front row from left to right: Ramon Dominguez, Corey Nakatani, Mike Smith, John Velazquez, Javier Castellano, Rosie Napravnik. Back row: Julien Leparoux, Junior Alvarado, Kent Desormeaux, Alex Solis, Jose Lezcano.
Triple Crown quick links:
Oxbow upsets in the Preakness - Oxbow led the entire way in the Preakness Stakes (G1) on Saturday at Pimlico with Itsmyluckyday second and Mylute third. Heavy favorite Orb made a mild move to finish fourth. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Preakness undercard stakes results - There were 7 other stakes on the card, highlighted by the Dixie Stakes (G2) won by Skyring and the Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) won by Summer Applause. Get the results, charts, and photos for 6 of the races here.
Fiftyshadesofhay wins the Black-Eyed Susan - Fiftyshadesofhay just got up to win the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) on Friday at Pimlico by a neck over Marathon Lady with favorite Emollient 6th. On the undercard, Last Gunfighter won the Pimlico Special (G3). Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Analyzing the Preakness Stakes Contenders for 2013 - My annual analysis using popular angles and statistical trends to see who best matches the profile of a Preakness winner. The big surprise is that Kentucky Derby winner Orb is not in the top group!
Orb wins the Kentucky Derby - Orb was far back early but took the lead in the stretch and drew off to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) by 2 1/2 lengths over longshot Golden Soul and Revolutionary. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
More Kentucky Derby Photos - More photos from the day including more of Orb, the trophy, the roses, Martina McBride, and lots of mud.
Kentucky Derby undercard stakes results - There were 5 other stakes on Derby day including the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) won by 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan and the Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) won by Aubby K. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 5 races here.
Princess of Sylmar upsets in the Kentucky Oaks - She rallied from far back to win the Kentucky Oaks by a half length over Beholder and Unlimited Budget, while favorite Dreaming of Julia was fourth. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
Kentucky Oaks undercard stakes results - There were 5 other stakes on Oaks day including the La Troienne Stakes (G2) won by Authenticity and the Alysheba Stakes (G3) won by Take Charge Indy. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 5 races here.
Kentucky Oaks Entries - A field of 11 fillies will go, with Gulfstream Oaks winner Dreaming of Julia favorite at 3-1 from post 8. Get the post positions, odds, and free past performances here.
Top Kentucky Derby Contenders - my list of the top horses headed to the Derby with profiles for each with photos, stats, and link to more info like past performances and pedigree.
Analyzing the top 2013 Kentucky Derby contenders - My annual analysis of the top contenders to try and select a winner by matching each to the profile of a Kentucky Derby winner using many of the more popular angles and statistical trends. This year there were is a 3-way tie for the top spot: Goldencents, Normandy Invasion, and Overanalyze.
2013 Kentucky Derby And Oaks Security - New enhanced stricter rules will be enforced this year. Be sure to read the rules as many have changed and more things are banned. There will still be magnetic wand searches of all patrons and many things are no longer allowed. Check here to make sure you don't bring anything they will confiscate.
Review: Triple Crown Handicapper 2013 - by Jim Mazur. Includes lots of stats for all 3 races and explains how to use a system of statistically derived negative angles to eliminate the "bad" picks.
Review: Kentucky Derby Greatest Moments - Commemorative DVD from Churchill Downs with video from 27 different runnings along with interviews, photos, and historical info. Definitely recommended for any racing fan!
Review: Churchill Downs - America's Most Historic Racetrack by Kimberly Gatto. An entertaining and informative account of the history of the track and it's most famous race, the Kentucky Derby, with lots of photos. Definitely recommended.