Belmont Stakes 2012: Union Rags Will Be I'll Have Another's Top Competition

Ryan Phillips@@RumorsandRantsContributor IIIMay 20, 2012

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03:  Union Rags trains on the track in preparation for the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

I'll Have Another will enter the 2012 Belmont Stakes looking to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. With Bodemeister out of the Belmont, Union Rags will be I'll Have Another's top competition on June 9.

Union Rags opened his career by winning three straight races, and had wins in four of his first five. He was one of the favorites at the Kentucky Derby before finishing seventh. He is a horse a lot of people believe in, and after sitting out the Preakness he will be well rested and ready to go at Belmont.

I'll Have Another pulled out fantastic finishes at both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. His late stretch runs in both races showed he has the staying power to conquer the long, 12-furlong, track at the Belmont. With Bodemeister, the runner-up in both the Derby and the Preakness, heading home to California and not competing in the Belmont, Union Rags looks like the top competition for I'll Have Another.

Creative Cause is reportedly "50-50" to enter at Belmont, but I'll Have Another has bested him in three straight races dating back to the Santa Anita Derby back on April 7. I'll Have Another just seems to have his number.

Union Rags was essentially out of it from the start at the Kentucky Derby, as he was pinched between Dullahan and Take Charge Indy right out of the gate. He found himself in 18th place along the rail before the race had really even started. He wound up finishing seventh, after he finally got his legs under him. 

At the Belmont, Union Rags and his jockey Julien Leparoux will have something to prove. They could be the only thing standing between I'll Have Another and a Triple Crown.