published Saturday, June 9th, 2012

Union Rags nips Paynter to win Belmont Stakes

Union Rags with jockey John Velazquez up, right, holds off Paynter with jockey Mike Smith to win the 144th Belmont Stakes horse race at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Saturday, June 9, 2012.
Union Rags with jockey John Velazquez up, right, holds off Paynter with jockey Mike Smith to win the 144th Belmont Stakes horse race at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., on Saturday, June 9, 2012.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NEW YORK (AP) — Union Rags nipped Paynter at the wire in a photo finish to win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, beating a field without Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another who was retired with an injury.

The finish was another thriller in the final leg of the Triple Crown, and hard luck trainer Bob Baffert was on the losing end each time.

I’ll Have Another used two stirring stretch drives to beat Baffert’s Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. In the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, it was Union Rags who provided the thrills.

A crowd of 85,811 cheered as the horses battled down the stretch, and Union Rags barely caught the front-runner at the end.

Union Rags, trained by Michael Matz, finished a disappointing seventh in the Derby and skipped the Preakness.

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