THE UNION RAGS team had dreams of more than the Kentucky Derby. They
really thought they might have a horse that could win the Triple Crown.
That dream went away when the stall doors opened for Saturday’s
Derby. Instead of, say, getting position and making it into an
eight-horse race, with more than half the field behind him, Union Rags,
18th early, was in a 20-horse race and eventually finished seventh.
The team of owner Phyllis Wyeth, trainer Michael Matz and Wyeth
adviser Russell Jones met Tuesday at Matz’ Fair Hill, Md., barn and
decided that since the Triple Crown is out, the horse could really use
more time between races. So they will skip the May 19 Preakness and get
Union Rags ready for the June 9 Belmont Stakes.
Top-class horses almost never run races 2 weeks apart, except during the
Triple Crown. It was decided that Union Rags could not only use the
extra time, but the wide, sweeping turns at Belmont Park would mesh with
the colt’s long, powerful strides.