Union Rags retired
It wasn't so long ago that Union Rags sparked heady talk of being a potential Triple Crown champion, and among his most committed believers was trainer Michael Matz.
As a juvenile, the son of Dixie Union won his first three career starts in eye-catching style, graduating from a Delaware Park maiden to a 7 1/4-length romp in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and a 5 1/4-length conquest of the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. The strapping bay suffered his first loss in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where a wide trip throughout, and a stubborn Hansen, foiled him by a head.
Union Rags was regarded in many quarters as the early Kentucky Derby favorite, and rated as the leading individual choice at 7-1 in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. He confirmed his status with an impressive four-length victory in his reappearance in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, and his odds shortened to 4-1 at the conclusion of Pool 2.
Using the Grade 1 Florida Derby as his final prep, Union Rags endured a problematic trip and could do no better than a belated third. The upset was not enough to topple him from Kentucky Derby favoritism that weekend, for he closed as the overall 9-2 favorite in Pool 3 of the Future Wager.
Union Rags was eclipsed in the betting on Derby Day, however, as Bodemeister was bet down as the 4-1 choice. Union Rags got off to a troubled start, was shuffled back, and the 5-1 second pick found himself near the rear in 18th. After finding further trouble and having to steady on the far turn, Union Rags made late headway for a non-threatening seventh.
Union Rags retires with a record of 8-5-1-1, $1,798,800. The Kentucky-bred handsomely repaid Wyeth's investment in him. Wyeth had sold her homebred as a yearling for $145,000 at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga, only to have second thoughts. Regretting the decision to let him go, she famously went back and purchased him for $390,000 as a two-year-old in training at Fasig-Tipton's Florida Sale.
His family has plenty of Wyeth connections. His third dam, Irish champion filly and English One Thousand Guineas heroine *Glad Rags II, was owned by Wyeth's parents, James and Alice duPont Mills. They bred and campaigned his second dam, Grade 2 victress Terpsichorist. To the cover of another Mills runner, Gone West, Terpsichorist produced Tempo, the dam of Union Rags.
Union Rags' name contains elements of both sire Dixie Union and his great grand-dam Glad Rags. Now he himself will likely go full circle, back to the Bluegrass State, for his stud career.
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