Union Rags, making his first start as a 3-year-old, showed no signs of rust at Gulfstream Park on Sunday, posting an emphatic four-length tally in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes.
The field was reduced to seven after the defection of morning line favorite Algorithms and the betting public settled on Discreet Dancer as the post time choice. The Pletcher trainee set a comfortable tempo for a half with News Pending making an early move under Kent Desormeaux.
Julien Leparoux was sitting chilly stalking the pace on the ouside aboard Union Rags, and he moved effortlessly to the lead turning for home. He cruised home under a hand ride and lived up to his top billing as winterbook favorite for Kentucky Derby 2012.
News Pending put away Discreet Dancer in a solid place finish. It was a top three parade throughout with the rest never seriously threatening.
Neck 'N Neck finished 4th and was followed across the line by Fort Loudon, Csaba, and Casual Trick.
Union Rags, a strapping son of Dixie Union trained by Michael Matz, stopped the clock in 1:42.68 and paid $4.40. He is expected to make his next start in the G1 Florida Derby on March 31.