Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

Does Anyone Remember Union Rags?

Does anyone remember Union Rags?  Union Rags sat atop almost all of the Kentucky Derby Top 10 or 12 or 16 polls for the first few months of 2012. Union Rags was ranked number 1 in my first seven Derby top 10 polls until April 2nd when Union Rags finished third in the Florida Derby and Hansen had won the Gotham. In that 8th version of my poll I'll Have Another was ranked third having not run since his win in the Robert Lewis on Feb. 4th.
Does anyone remember that in seven lifetime starts Union Rags has four wins, a second, and a third for $1,198,000 in earnings which is second to only I’ll Have Another amongst the 2012 Belmont Stakes possible starters?  His only out of the money finish came in his troubled Kentucky Derby seventh place finish. The Daily Racing Form chart described his trip, “Union Rags bumped and squeezed at the start, was outrun along the rail, took up once in the second turn, swung wide to the outside for the drive and made a late gain.”
Does anyone remember that one of Union Rags best races came at Belmont? His five-length win in the Champagne Stakes came over Alpha who was a horse that many looked at as an upset possibility until he spiked a fever and will have to miss the Belmont.
Does anyone remember that Union Rags was the 1.10-1 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile? Another troubled trip left him a nose short of victory behind Hansen.
Does anyone remember that prior to the Kentucky Derby most of the pre-race feel good stories were about Union Rags’ owner Phyllis Wyeth. She was the breeder, but sold the horse and regretted that decision and bought him back for $390,000 in February of 2011.
Does anyone remember that Union Rags’ main 2011 jockey Javier Castellano made an early decision go with Todd Pletcher for his Derby mount? Trainer Michael Matz then turned to Julien Leparoux who gave his horse two highly questioned rides in the Florida and Kentucky Derbys.  Union Rags will now be ridden by John Velazquez who is one of Belmont Park’s most successful jockeys in history.
Does anyone remember that Union Rags will enter the Belmont relaxed and well rested after training at Fair Hills in Maryland?  He has been allowed to graze and hang out in his paddock and just be a horse.  All reports say that he looks extremely fit and healthy heading into his final breeze on Sunday.
I, for one, remember all of these reasons that make Union Rags one of the four horses that have a legitimate chance to win the Belmont Stakes. I think the winner will come from this group: Dullahan, I’ll Have Another, Paynter, or Union Rags. 


comments powered by Disqus

Older Comments about Does Anyone Remember Union Rags?...

Certainly some of us remember him! How could we forget IF we are fans of Horse Racing?
Union rags won the Belmont- hardly similar to tapit
We can accept the fact that Tapit can't sire a classic runner, but he produces good 8-9 furlong horses.
Tapit was also considered a "flash in the pan" on the racetrack. Look at the stallion he has become -- injuries are part of the sport, we have to accept it.
Another one of too many "flashes in the pan," so fragile that we never got the chance to properly evaluate him..Wil remain just a precosious baby and that's all he was able to suggest
I miss him very much :(
I remembered Union Rags. :) and now everyone else will too- as the winner of the 2012 belmont stakes. :) it's very easy to root for this horse and his connections.
UPDATE: Union Rags wins the 2012 Belmont Stakes!
I still wonder if the bad trips are a jokey or horse problem. As a 2 year old, he found himself in trouble, but had Javier Castellano to get him out of it.
Sadly, this one has not returned to his dominant two year old form and the rides he has recieved did not do a thing to aid that
Shut up everyone. Your all wrong and gunna regret it. He is the best horse.
I smell a bomb...........
He's definitely got potential, but he hasn't reached full expectations for some people. I never liked him for the Derby, but I can't help but feel bad for him because all these expectations distract him only because his trained Barbaro and everyone was expecting to have another Barbaro which will never happen. Union Rags is also the type of horse that always finds trouble and if other horses are too close to him, he seems to panic and waste his energy which won't help him at all in the Belmont.
Horsefan90, I agree. I'm not liking what I'm hearing about him lately and you just said what I said a few days ago (or was it earlier today) that UR peaked as a 2 year old and it's unfortunate but true. Maybe he'll come back in the game later on but now is not his time.
He seemed to peak as a two year old. Although, having John Velasquez gives him a big boost. Having said that, 12 furlongs is way to long for him and he is, I think, to immature for this race. I'll Have Another and Dullahan have the best chance to win.
I feel as though he is a great horse but isn't mature enough for the Belmont. AndyScoggin: Sure he worked 5 in 58.5, but it wasn't at Belmont and it wasn't over conventional dirt. Johny V also said that UR seemed to be faster than they would have liked, which tells me that he is going to be extremely ancy on Saturday and may not be able to sit patiently during the long backstretch. But this is just my opinion.
would love to see a triple crown although Union Rags always been my pick from his two year old season.
I've never liked Rags, but if Belmont is as bad as it was last year expect some serious closing from him. Champagne is run at Belmont...
I think Rags is a better horse than some want to give credit for, hopefully the jockey change will help. I expect him(and he needs too)to show strong in this race. It will be his final chance to silence his critics, AGREED.I am a big rags fan & still will be regardless who wins. If I H A beats rags I will just have to nod I H A is a better horse, but will still love them both.

Related Pages

Connect With Matt (AndyScoggin)

Me On Facebook
Follow Me On Twitter

 Meet Matt Shifman 

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.

• Preakness Interview with Trainer Todd Pletcher

• Kentucky Derby 2016 Handicapping Tips from A to Z


• Edison: the Travels of a Million Dollar Colt 

• A Kentucky Derby Field with Just 14 Horses

• What is the Best Kentucky Derby Running Style?



Related Stories

Best of the Blogs

Top Stories