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Union Rags Impresses Velazquez

Union Rags (no. 6), ridden by Javier Castellano and trained by Michael Matz, wins the 140th running of the grade 1 Champagne Stakes for two year olds on October 08, 2011 at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. (Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire)

Working in Maryland over the Fair Hill Training Center’s artificial surface, Chadds Ford Stable’s Union Rags completed his major preparations for the Belmont Stakes by covering five furlongs in 59 seconds flat.


It was the first time John Velazquez, who made the trek south to Fair Hill for the breeze, had ridden Union Rags.


“I’m glad Johnny [Velazquez] made the effort to come down and sit on him,” said trainer Michael Matz. “Johnny seemed to like him and he seemed to do that easy enough.”


“Excellent, man,” added Velazquez after returning to Belmont Park. “Very easy. It was a little faster than we had planned, but it was very easy. Very impressive. Hopefully, we can keep him like that for Saturday!”


The last time Union Rags was in New York he won the Grade 1 Champagne by 5 ¼ lengths. In the interim, he was second by a nose in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, first in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, and seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.


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