the 12 horses in the Belmont Stakes racing at 1 ½ miles for the first time in
their careers, the distance is a question mark for all. Although the progeny of
Union Rags’ sire, Dixie
Union, do their best running up to 1 1/8 miles, trainer Michael Matz said the
colt’s pedigree on his mother’s side will help him get the
second and third dam were 1 ½-mile horses,” Matz said, referring to
Terpsichorist, who won up to 1 5/8 miles, including route victories in the
Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap and Grade 3 Long Island Handicap, and Glad Rags
II, a champion filly in Ireland.
“They ran 1 ½ miles, and I think
that’s where he gets the distance from. Dixie Union hasn’t produced
anything over 1 1/8 miles, but I think on the female side, there’s a
distance pedigree. He’s a big horse with a long stride; he covers the
ground easy … but we don’t know. Nobody knows. They’ll
probably never run this distance again in their lives. It’s a big
Rags had a brilliant career at 2 and was one of the favorites for the Kentucky
Derby, only to finish a disappointing seventh after a troubled trip. With a new
jockey in John Velazquez, who replaces Julien Leparoux, Matz would love nothing
more than to see his horse get a clean journey to show what he can do.
[Union Rags] coming in very good; he worked very good,” Matz said.
“All I am asking for is a clean trip. He’s done everything
we’ve asked him to do. He had two unfortunate races. Whether it was the
rider, the trainer, or the horse, I don’t know. Sometimes you just have to
do something to go about it a little differently. I think he had some bad luck.
don’t think he had a chance his last two races to run. I don’t
think you can blame it on him. We’ll find out Saturday. A mile-and-a-half
might not be the place to start, but it’s the last Triple Crown race and
I think he deserves a chance.”