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Matz Talks Union Rags, Teeth of the Dog

Matz Talks Union Rags, Teeth of the Dog
Union Rags, the winner of last month’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, was retired this weekend because of a tendon injury in his left foreleg.

 

Bred and owned by Phyllis Wyeth, the Dixie Union colt first gained attention last year at Saratoga when he won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special following a victorious debut at Delaware Park. He subsequently went on to capture the prestigious Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park by 5 ¼ lengths and was beaten a head by Hansen after a troubled trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

 

As a 3-year-old, Union Rags, trained by Michael Matz, won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, was third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and seventh in the Kentucky Derby after being squeezed at the start.

 

Rather than go on to the Preakness Stakes, Matz opted to await the 1 ½-mile “Test of the Champion.” His decision paid off as the colt, under rider John Velazquez, wore down leader Paynter with a long stretch drive to take the third leg of racing’s Triple Crown.

 

“I think that he’s a pretty attractive stallion prospect – Champagne winner as a 2-year-old, Belmont winner as a 3-year-old – and that’s not something that happens every year,” said Russell Jones, bloodstock adviser to Wyeth. “There is a general, high level of interest in the horse since we made the announcement.”

 

While the decision of where Union Rags will stand as a stallion hasn’t been made, Jones said Wyeth prefers the horse remain in the country.

 

“She really doesn’t want him to go overseas,” Jones said. “We’ve taken a number of potential buyers out of play. It will be restricted to the domestic market. It’s a love affair she had with this horse, and she doesn’t want him to go somewhere where she can’t find him.”

 

While Matz lost his prime 3-year-old, he retains Teeth of the Dog, winner of the Easy Goer Stakes on June 9 at Belmont Park and the Grade 2 Dwyer at the track 21 days later.

 

Teeth of the Dog, a son of Bluegrass Cat, is on course for a start in the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race on July 28 at the Spa. The race is a key prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Travers on August 25.

 

“He’ll go in the Jim Dandy or Haskell,” Matz said. “He’ll do one of those two and it’s probably the Jim Dandy. He worked five furlongs in 1:02 this morning and did it very nicely, and he’ll probably ship in this week.”

 

 

 

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