It was hard to swallow the scratch of I'll Have Another out of the Belmont Stakes, ending the hopes for a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. But, what we got was a spectacular race with a thrilling finish, just as we saw in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Union Rags finally got a clean trip and finally stamped himself among top 3 year olds. Though they came home slow, once Union Rags realized he could fit through the hole between the rail and Paynter he quickened to get past Paynter in just a few strides to get his head in front. So, had he been on the outside and did not have to wait to get through I think he would have come home a little faster than what the final time showed. As a race fan you have to be excited for the connections of Union Rags. Michael Matz seems like such a classy guy and you could see the disappointed on his face after the horrible trip in the Kentucky Derby. Winning the Belmont was definitely redemptive for Matz.
Though truthfully I think I'll Have Another would have ran away from these. Having watched his previous races and breaking from the outside you had to think he would get a good trip. I'll Have Another would have tucked in nicely 2-3 lengths behind Paynter and then would have had first run coming off the turn. Atigun would have been behind I'll Have Another and which would have allowed I'll Have Another to be just on the outside of Paynter. With all that said, I'll Have Another couldn't run and we'll never know for sure, but if there was an honorary Triple Crown winner, then I'll Have Another is definitely a nominee.
I've heard a lot of talk that these horses are slow or not the best crop of 3 year olds. We had about as thrilling a Triple Crown season as we have had in years. Whether the horses run a 99 beyer or a 109 beyer, having thrilling finishes has to count for something! Thanks to all the connections who were able to run their horses in this years Triple Crown races. Without you we would not have these great days of racing.
Looking forward to the mid summer stakes racing. Between know and then you'll find me at Colonial Downs!