Mornings at Palm Meadows Training Center are considerably less
hectic this season for Michael Matz, who trained high-profile Triple
Crown prospect Union Rags amidst a swirl of attention last year.
“He was a good horse, that’s for sure,” said Matz, who saddled Union
Rags for victories in the Fountain of Youth and Belmont Stakes before
his colt’s retirement. “It was hard losing a horse like that, but we’ll
just have to keep looking for another one.”
Matz doesn’t have any accomplished 2-year-olds in his stable thus far this year.
“I’ve got some late-developing 2-year-olds. They’ve worked OK, but
no standouts yet,” he said. “I just have to keep hoping one of them will
Matz will saddle a trio of 2-year-olds for starts this week that he
hopes will lead to bigger and better things during the meeting.
Hard to Handle, who was purchased for $270,000 at the
2-year-olds-in-training sale at Timonium last spring, is entered to make
his second start in Thursday’s sixth race. The son of Hard Spun was
well backed at the windows for his debut at Laurel on Oct. 24, when he
broke slowly and was rushed up early before faltering late.
Matz is hoping good things from a pair of 2-year-olds, Whitfield and Fredricksburg, on Saturday’s card.
Whitfield, a Louisiana-bred son of Private Vow, will be making his
first start in the U.S. and on dirt in Saturday’s second race after
racing twice on turf in England.
“They bought him at a 2-year-olds-in-training sale and shipped him
to England, but they thought he’d be better on dirt than turf and
brought him back here,” Matz said. “He’s worked nicely. This colt is a
Fredricksburg has shown a fondness for turf in four lifetime races
that include a maiden score at Saratoga and a third-place finish in an
overnight stakes at Belmont Park last time out. The son of Speightstown
has been entered for the Saturday’s seventh race, a mile entry-level
“We’re going to try him on dirt,” Matz said. “He’s stakes-placed on
the turf. He’s worked well on the dirt. We’ll see how he runs on