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Belmont Stakes 2012: Union Rags Finally Lives Up To Potential With Thrilling Win

The 2012 Belmont Stakes is in the books, and while it didn't lead to our first Triple Crown winner in more than 30 years—Affirmed's status as the champion to apparently end all champions remains uncontested—the rest of the race's upper class still managed to impress. Union Rags, a disappointment at the Kentucky Derby and a non-entity in the Preakness, finally showed the potential that had him the early Triple Crown favorite with a late burst of speed to pass Paynter, momentarily leaving our soured memories of I'll Have Another's star-crossed Triple Crown run in the dust.

It won't be remembered quite so clearly by history, but Union Rags's victory over Paynter ensured that the race itself wouldn't be quite so irrelevant as the lead-up to it turned out to be—for a few minutes, history was only as important to the Belmont Stakes's viewers as it was the horses, who I'm told don't care particularly for racing history so long as they're fed regularly and allowed to rear up and buck whenever that one Busch commercial comes on. For more information, check out And Down the Stretch They Come, SB Nation's horse-racing specialists, or take a look at SB Nation Studios' collection of strange, occasionally absurd, briefly informative videos right here.