Though the race may have been overshadowed by the absence of Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another, who retired with an injury Friday (June 8), Union Rags has emerged the victor in the 144th Belmont Stakes. The horse ridden by Johnny Velazquez beat out second-place Paynter in a photo finish on Saturday.
Union Rags, the 5-2 second choice behind Dullahan, barely nabbed the first-place finish at the end of the race with Paynter taking an early lead out of the gate.
The Triple Crown was out of play with I’ll Have Another scratched, but that makes the win no less exciting for Union Rags, his trainer Michael Matz and jockey Velazquez with the win being worth $600,000 out of a $1 million purse.
“I don’t have words to describe it,” Velazquez says of the win, according to USA Today. “For (trainer Matz) to finally rise up to the top again, I’m very, very happy.”