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2012 Belmont Stakes News And Notes: Union Rags, I'll Have Another And More

Among Wednesday's Belmont Stakes news and notes Union Rags has a new jockey, I'll Have Another is a "very happy horse", Preakness Stakes TV ratings were down and New York state reorganizes NYRA.

Belmont Stakes News » Velazquez to replace Leparoux aboard Union Rags
John Velazquez has picked up the mount on Union Rags, trainer Michael Matz said Tuesday.

The switch was not a surprise. The connections of Union Rags were not happy with how things unfolded for Union Rags in his last two starts, both with Julien Leparoux. And Velazquez was considered one of the top contenders to replace him.

Leparoux had ridden Union Rags in the Kentucky Derby, in which Union Rags finished seventh after a troubled trip. Leparoux also rode Union Rags in the Florida Derby, in which he finished third.

“We felt we had to make a change,” said Matz, who trains Union Rags for Phyllis Wyeth.

“What happened before, in the last two races, it can happen to any one of them. He doesn’t look like he’s difficult to ride. He does have a big, long stride, and you need to let him use that stride.”

Belmont Stakes News » I'll Have Another 'Happy Horse' - May 22, 2012
Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another was a “very happy horse” Tuesday morning as he continued to settle nicely into his new digs at Belmont Park, where on June 9 he will attempt to become the 12th horse to add the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

“He walked again this morning,” said Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill, of I’ll Have Another, who arrived Sunday from Pimlico. “He looks great, fantastic. He’s a very happy horse. The main thing with this horse is, we can ship him around, and he settles right in. He just takes everything into stride.”

National TV Ratings For Preakness Decline |
National ratings for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 19 dropped compared to year-ago numbers, according to figures released by NBC Sports Group. Approximately 8.1 viewers saw I'll Have Another win the second leg of the Triple Crown from Pimlico Race Course near Baltimore, down from 8.8 million viewers last year, a drop of 7 percent.

Cuomo Announces NYRA Board Reorganization |
The New York Racing Association board of directors will be dominated by a new panel of members selected by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders under a deal announced May 22.

The agreement was unanimously by NYRA board members, who have been under fire from the Cuomo administration over everything from a pari-mutuel takeout scandal to equine deaths at Aqueduct Racetrack. The weaker role on the NYRA board for racing industry insiders will last three years for a new panel being called the NYRA Reorganization Board.