The 2012 Triple Crown campaign concluded in New York on Saturday with the 143rd renewal of the $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1) before a crowd of 85,811 under cloudy skies and temperatures in the upper 70's. After Derby/Preakness winner I'll Have Another scratched, a field of 11 three-year-olds contested the 1 1/2 mile "Test of the Champion", with Kentucky Derby third place finisher Dullahan sent off as the 5-2 favorite over 11-4 second choice Union Rags, seventh in the Derby, and 4-1 third choice Paynter, winner of an allowance after finishing second in the Derby Trial (G3).
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 1 1/4 miles 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.
There were five other stakes on the card: the Easy Goer won by Teeth of the Dog, the True North won by Caixa Eletronica, the Woody Stephens won by Trinniberg, the Just a Game won by Tapitsfly, and the Manhattan Handicap won by Desert Blanc.