The 144th running of the Belmont Stakes capped off an incredible Triple Crown season.
There was drama both in the races and outside of them. With everything that happened, 2012 has proven to be an unforgettable year in horse racing.
Here is a recap of each race, ranked in order from most exciting to least exciting.
1. I’ll Have Another Wins the Preakness Stakes
Nothing beats I’ll Have Another’s dramatic victory in the Preakness.
After an incredible upset victory at the Kentucky Derby, Bodemeister was still favored heading to Maryland.
The oddsmakers’ decision seemed to be justified as Bob Baffert’s horse looked poised to post a wire-to-wire finish.
Then, a familiar situation began to form. I’ll Have Another had been hanging back, but all of a sudden, jockey Mario Gutierrez got the horse to shift into another gear.
Spectators were unsure until the very last fraction of a second whether the late charge was going to be enough. I’ll Have Another just barely beat out Bodemeister for the best moment of this year’s Triple Crown season.
2. I’ll Have Another Wins the Kentucky Derby
Everyone loves an underdog, and at 15-1 odds before the race, as noted by KentuckyDerby.com, that is exactly what I’ll Have Another was heading into the Derby.
Bodemeister was a 4-1 favorite and took a convincing lead right from the start. A predictable finish seemed in store until I’ll Have Another started to make his move.
As Associated Press writer Richard Rosenblatt notes, via the Kansas City Star, I’ll Have Another pulled ahead of the favorite in the last 100 yards and ended up winning the race by a one-and-a-half lengths.
This result may have been more unexpected than I’ll Have Another’s Preakness win, but the drama wasn’t quite as high. Still, this was an epic victory that will be remembered for a long time.
What was the most exciting race of the Triple Crown season?
3. Union Rags wins the Belmont
With I’ll Have Another out of the Belmont Stakes, Union Rags took it upon itself to provide the spectators with a thrilling comeback victory.
Another Bob Baffert-trained horse, Paynter, took the early lead and was at the front of the pack heading down the stretch, but Union Rags made a bold inside move and took the lead at the last second.
This was another captivating and unforgettable finish, but the race itself took a disappointing turn when I’ll Have Another was scratched because of tendinitis.
The race was supposed to offer fans a chance to see the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. Once that was no longer possible, the race was doomed to be at least slightly underwhelming.
Union Rags made sure that there was still plenty of action for the spectators to enjoy, but it still did not quite measure up to I’ll Have Another’s wins in the first two legs of the Triple Crown.