Breeders’ Cup Juvenile favorite
Union Rags came up a head short in his quest to remain unbeaten and to
establish himself as the undisputed Two Year Old Champion. He may well attain that status once voting
begins, due to his earlier accomplishments.
UNION RAGS (Dixie
Union - Tempo, by Gone West) came up a nose short to Hansen in the Breeders’
Cup Juvenile, breaking his three-race winning streak. The Michael Matz trainee is in good company.
In the past ten years, three colts who finished second in the Juvenile
progressed the following year to win a Classic race. Union Rags’ pedigree can hold clues to his
Classic aspirations next year.
Union Rags’ sire Dixie Union was a
precocious juvenile, winning his maiden at first asking and then the Hollywood Juvenile
Championship, Norfolk and Best Pal Stakes. The following year, he won the
Haskell and Malibu Stakes. Dixie Union was victorious from 5 furlongs to 1 1/8
miles. Overall, he won 7 of 12 starts
and placed 3 times, mainly in Grade 2 and 3 company. The worst finishes in his
career came in the BC Juvenile (5th) and Travers Stakes (4th).
Dixie Union, a son of Dixieland Band
and a descendant of the Northern Dancer sire line, retired to stud at the end
of his three year old season. As a sire,
Dixie Union’s stakes winners are successful from sprints to middle distances up
to 1 1/8 miles. His son Grasshopper finished
second in the Travers at the classic distance of 1 ¼ miles, but was never the
same afterward, winning only twice in 14 attempts. The
majority of Dixie Union’s progeny are best over dirt, however, Dixie Union does
get winners over turf and he is an average Polytrack sire.
On his distaff side, Union Rags is a
full brother to the gelding Geefour whose greatest accomplishment was finishing
third in the 5 ½ furlong Le Grande Pos Handicap, a listed stakes at Philly
Park. Geefour was a claiming class
runner. He retired with a 23-4-5-3
record and earned $159,092. Union Rags has six half siblings. None have
blacktype status, but the leading money earner amongst them is Miss Pauline,
who is currently racing in the claiming ranks at PARX. She has a 29-6-6-6
record and has earned $209,867 the hard way.
There are a number of nice stakes
horses that have been produced by Union Rags’ distaff family. His dam Tempo showed
promise in her short career, winning twice and placing once in three starts. She has ten half siblings. The most
accomplished on the track is Marry Me Do, a dual stakes winning miler. Tempo
is also a half-sister to two stakes placed runners,
including Grade 2 placed Dancing Devlette, whose progeny include the graded
stakes winners Pratella, Satan’s Quick Chick and the listed turf sprinter
Satan’s Code. Union Rags’ second dam Terpsichorist was a stakes winning
turf router, victorious from 1 1/16 miles to 1 ½ miles. Her resume includes victories in the Sheepshead
Bay (G2) and Long Island Handicaps (G3). Union Rags’ third dam Glad Rags was a Champion
Two Year Old in Ireland.
Tempo’s sire Gone West is the damsire
of 70 stakes winners, 15 who won at classic distances, mainly over the turf.
His daughters have produced three stakes horses that have been successful at 1
¼ or farther, record-setting grade 1 winner Frost Giant, Japanese Group 2 mare
La Verita, and listed winner Kristali. Gone West is currently #14 on the
leading broodmare sire list.
The Dixie Union/Gone West bloodline
cross has produced 13 foals, 9 starters and 7 winners. Union Rags and his full
brother are the only ones with blacktype (stakes wins or placings).
Union Rags is a large, muscular colt.
He has a long stride with good extension, but also has high leg action. Despite
being a big horse, Union Rags is very balanced and athletic. He will most
certainly mature body wise and develop his talent as a three year old. Union Rags was very green racing down the
lane of the Saratoga Special, ducking out from the left handed whip. Union Rags
raced wide in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but was helped by a track favorable
to closers. Still, he also bore out in the stretch and was clearly tired at the
end of the race. He should overcome
these issues with maturity and experience.
Distance wise, Union Rags’ pedigree is
borderline for Classic races. In the past, we’ve seen talented horses, such as
Shackleford and Ruler On Ice overcome their pedigrees. If Union Rags beats the odds and makes it to
the Triple Crown, he may have a legitimate shot of winning or finishing in the
top three. If so, he’ll be in the company of Point Given, Afleet Alex and
Lookin At Lucky. Good company indeed.