June 9, 2012; Elmont, NY, USA; John Velazquez aboard Union Rags (3) and Mike Smith aboard Paynter (9) race down the final stretch of the 144th running of Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Union Rags won the race. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

2012 Belmont Stakes: Union Rags Edges Out Paynter

Union Rags took advantage of I'll Have Another being scratched, and won the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes

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2012 Belmont Stakes: Mario Gutierrez Mourns Retirement Of I'll Have Another

They were a pair of unexpected heroes who will be linked together forever. Unfortunately so much of the story centered on I'll Have Another and his jockey Mario Gutierrez will also be clouded with questions of what could have been after the race horse officially was scratched from the 2012 Belmont Stakes.

I'll Have Another will officially retire as well, which means that the winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes will go out a champion who couldn't quite finish competing for the Triple Crown. He was a completely unexpected surprise who upended the more celebrated Bodemeister not once but twice on the biggest stage possible.

As for the jockey who brought him there, Gutierrez was riding for the first time on any level like the Derby when he overtook Bodemeister down the stretch to win. He's been a joy to watch from the outset with real emotion, authenticity and, obviously, talent. His keen handling of I'll Have Another was as great of a story to watch as the horse himself. Now we have to go without both.

Gutierrez mourned the loss of I'll Have Another when the news was made official.

"He'll be my hero forever," a somber Gutierrez said. "What I'll Have Another did for me is so amazing. He brought happiness to my life."

It's also clear that Gutierrez is not the only one upset. Even competitors were frustrated and sorrowful at the loss of horse racing history in the making.

"Our hearts go out to the connections of I'll Have Another," NYRA chairman Steven Duncker said. "We are all disappointed for them, the fans, and for the sport of thoroughbred racing, but the most important concern is always the health and well-being of the horses."

For more on the Belmont Stakes and the race for the Triple Crown, stay with thisStoryStream and check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down the Stretch They Come. There, you'll also find a beginner's guide to following horse racing and aglossary of horse racing terms.

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VIDEO: Triple Crown Preview Of 2012 Belmont Stakes From SB Nation

Matt Gardner of SB Nation is previewing the upcoming 2012 Belmont Stakes and specifically I'll Have Another's chance of winning the final Triple Crown race to make horse racing history. In short, it looks like the horse has a great shot at matching Affirmed's feat of 1978 as the last horse to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont as well. Here's his analysis of the week that I'll Have Another is having leading up to Belmont.


For lots more on the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, please visit And Down the Stretch they Come.

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Belmont Stakes Odds 2012: I'll Have Another Goes For Triple Crown Against Dullahan, Union Rags

One look at the field for the 2012 Belmont Stakes and it’s quite clear that I’ll Have Another has as clear a shot as his trainers and staff and owner could hope for regarding a possible Triple Crown win. It hasn’t been achieved since 1978 when Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, but I’ll Have Another is by far the favorite against a field that’s missing Bodemeister as his prime challenger.

I’ll Have Another is favored 4-5 by the bettors at this point, and the next closest horse is Dullahan at 5-1. That’s good news for someone who wants to bet a longshot. Paynter should be a favorite here at 12-1 and Union Rags will also garner some attention after having missed the Preakness at 6-1 odds. Check out the complete field below.

2012 Belmont Stakes Betting Odds As Of 6/4:
Alpha (15-1)
Atigun (15-1)
Dullahan (5-1)
Five Sixteen (50-1)
Guyana Star Dweej (50-1)
I’ll Have Another (4-5)
Optimizer (30-1)
Paynter (12-1)
Street Life (15-1)
Union Rags (6-1)
Unstoppable U (30-1)


For lots more on the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, please visit And Down the Stretch they Come.

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