2012 Kentucky Derby Contender Union Rags workout

Michael Matz in front of Barbaro statue

The connections of Union Rags are hoping that they have the horse that will be their 2012 Kentucky Derby ticket.  Union Rags posted his first workout today since he finished second to Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup  Juvenile last November 5th at Churchill Downs.

Union Rags covered the three furlongs in :38.35 breezing at Palm Meadows Training Center for trainer Michael Matz.  Michael Matz is widely known in equestrian circles as a six-time US National Champion for his show jumping career.  He retired from show jumping as the leading money-winning rider in the sport’s American history, with over $1.7 million.  Now a successful trainer, Michael Matz is known in horse racing circles as the trainer of the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom worked at the same training facility the last two weekends with trainer Graham Motion.  Just before the New Year, he worked a half-mile in 49 seconds and last weekend he breezed four furlongs in :50:40 over the dirt track.

In 2011, Union Rags won the Champagne Stakes at Aqueduct and the Three Chimneys Saratoga Special at Saratoga.  It looks like Union Rags will be taking the “Southern” route looking for his 2012 Kentucky Derby ticket.  Probable stops along his 2012 Kentucky Derby prep race trail are the Fountain of Youth Stakes in February and the Florida Derby in March at Gulfstream Park.

Owner/breeder Phyllis Wyeth races Union Rags under the name of her stable Chadds Ford Stable.  Wyeth sold Union Rags at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton August sale for $145,000, but regretted her decision and bought him back in the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-old sale for nearly triple the price ($390,000).  He’s the son of Dixie Union and his third dam was Glad Rags  ll.

Union Rags has been ridden by Jockey Javier Castellano since last August at Saratoga.  Javier began his riding career in his native Venezuela in 1996 and in June 1997 moved to the United States where rode at race tracks in southern Florida until 2001 when he moved to race on the New York State racing circuit.  Highlights of his career so far have been his wins aboard Ghostzapper in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic and winning the 2006
Preakness with Bernardini.  Currently, his tack is in New York.

Current odds at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas are 12 to 1 for Union Rags to have a 2012 Kentucky Derby Ticket on May 5 at Churchill Downs.  Union Rags started off in October, 2010 at 60 to 1 that his 2012 Kentucky Derby ticket would be a winner. We will keep our fingers crossed that we will see Michael Matz back at Churchill Downs for the Derby.