The 2012 Belmont Stakes featured a spectacular finish with Union Rags snatching victory from Paynter at the line, and it looked oddly familiar. Paynter didn't race in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, while Union Rags took the Preakness Stakes off after finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby. I'll Have Another, the winner of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, was absent on Saturday. That didn't keep the Belmont from looking a heck of a lot like the Derby and the Preakness.
For the third straight Triple Crown race, a Bob Baffert horse was led to the front of the race by jockey Mike Smith. For the third straight Triple Crown race, the horse didn't have enough speed at the very end and was overtaken at the line.
"Is there a Triple Crown for seconds? I need a Triple Crown for seconds. I really thought [Paynter] was going to win today. He was doing so well. I knew we had the horse to do it and that horse [Union Rags] snuck up on him. He's still a young horse, still learning how to run. It's over. When you get beat, you get beat.''
The manner in which Paynter got beat wasn't at all dissimilar to the way Bodemeister was caught down the stretch on two occasions by I'll Have Another. For Baffert and Smith to lose in the exact same manner in three straight big races, with two different horses, is as remarkable as it must be disappointing for the pair.
For more post-race coverage of the Belmont Stakes, stay with this StoryStream and check out SB Nation's horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come. There, you'll also find A Beginner's Guide To Following Horse Racing and a glossary of horse racing terms.