2012 Belmont Stakes: Union Rags -- Contender Or Pretender?

Union Rags, the 6-1 third choice in the morning line odds for Saturday's 144th running of the Belmont Stakes, is considered a major threat to I'll Have Another in the bid for horse racing's first Triple Crown in 34 years. Union Rags is also seen as one of the most confusing entrants in the 12-horse field.

Union Rags was a 2-5 favorite in the Florida Derby, his last race before the Kentucky Derby, but wound up placing third being Take Charge Indy and Reveron. At one time considered a Kentucky Derby favorite, Union Rags then went to the Derby and placed a disappointing seventh.

"Obviously, we have been a little disappointed, but we still feel Union Rags hasn't run his race," said owner Phyllis Wyeth. "We had some problems in the Derby ... But we still think he can do really, really well."

Union Rags will be ridden by Johnny Velazquez. He was ridden by Julien Leparoux in the Derby.

BelmontStakes.org says:

"There is a growing sentiment among the cognoscenti that Union Rags was merely the victim of a bad trip and poor ride and his failure to win [the Florida Derby] did nothing to downgrade his status as Kentucky Derby contender. His good but not great 7th place finish in the Kentucky Derby did little to clarify the muddled picture."

Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form says:

"Did not have clean trips in his last two starts, pointed for this since the Derby. Very dangerous."

Dangerous enough to wreck I'll Have Another's Triple Crown bid? We will find out soon enough.

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