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Union Rags - The best son of Dixie Union

Last fall, we published a pedigree profile of the then juvenile colt Union Rags. In the article, we stated that, “In the past ten years, three colts who finished second in the Juvenile progressed the following year to win a Classic race." Union Rags kept that streak alive with a thrilling neck victory in the Belmont Stakes.    


UNION RAGS (Dixie Union - Tempo, by Gone West) Union Rags’ sire Dixie Union was a precocious juvenile.  Racing under the tutelage of trainer Richard Mandella, the striking dark bay colt won his maiden over a field that included eventual two-time champ of the Dubai Golden Shaheen, Caller One, at first asking. Dixie Union went on to record victories in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (G-3), Best Pal Stakes (G-3). Dixie Union was no match for the 5 ½ length winner of the Del Mar Futurity, Forest Camp, but a month later, Dixie Union turned the tables on that foe in the  Norfolk Stakes (then a G-2) by ½ length. Also in the field was the eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and 1999 Eclipse Champion 2 year-old colt Anees. Granted, Dixie Union was the more accomplished than Anees, however he finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, recording the worst placing of his career.  


As a three year old, Dixie Union skipped the Triple Crown trail and didn’t enter the starting gate until mid-May.  After placing in both the Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes and seven furlong Affirmed Handicap (G-3),  Dixie Union traveled east to take on his rival Captain Steve in the Haskell Invitational (G-1).  Dixie Union successfully stretched his speed to win the 1 1/8 mile race by ¾ length. The son of Dixieland Band could fare no better than fourth in the Travers Stakes (G-1) at 1 ¼ miles, so he shortened up for what would be his final race, beating his nemesis Caller One by a length.  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 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (5th) and Travers Stakes (4th). He earned $1,233,190.  


Dixie Union, the best son of Dixieland Band to stand at stud and a descendant of the Northern Dancer sire line, retired at the end of his three year old racing season in 2000. He commanded a $30,000 stud fee at Lane’s End. 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 offspring are stakes caliber winners over turf and he is an average Polytrack sire.  Unfortunately, the aspiring young stallion was put down in 2010 due to a deteriorating neurological condition in July, 2010. His last crop of two year olds will hit the track this year.  Union Rags is Dixie Union’s best and perhaps last son to compete at the top levels of racing.  


Union Rags is the only offspring sired by Dixie Union to win at 1 ½ miles.  This can certainly be attributed to the colt’s strong stamina-oriented distaff line. 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 (by Gone West) 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, by the spectacular Nijinsky out of the Irish  Champion Two Year Old Filly Glad Rags, was a multiple stakes winning turf router, victorious from 1 1/16 miles to 1 ½ miles.  Her resume includes victories in the Sheepshead Bay Handicap (G2) at 1 ¼ miles, the 1 3/16 mile Rutgers Handicap where she beat the boys and the Long Island Handicap (G3) at 1 ½ miles. Terpsichorist also finished third over the dirt in the Gazelle Handicap (G-1). As mentioned, Union Rags’ third dam Glad Rags (by High Hat) was a Champion Two Year Old in Ireland. 


Gone West, Union Rag’s broodmare sire, is the damsire of 70 stakes winners, 15 who won at classic distances, mainly over the turf. His daughters have produced three (now four, with the addition of Union Rags) 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 #7 on the leading broodmare sire list, thanks in part to Union Rags’ Belmont Stakes victory.


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’ second damsire Nijinsky could be the key to the Belmont Stakes Champ’s stamina.  Nijinsky won the 1970 English Triple Crown, the first to do so in 36 years. The brilliant Nijinsky’s sire Northern Dancer won the Kentucky Derby and Canada’s most prestigious race, the Queen’s Plate. Nijinsky’s dam Flaming Page also won the 1 ¼ mile Queen’s Plate.  Nijinksy carried enough brilliant speed to win the Railway Stakes (G-3) at six furlongs and was unbeaten as a juvenile.  At three, Nijinsky. At three, the Canadian-bred captured the Epsom Derby with the fastest winning time in 36 years and earned the honor as the first English Triple Crown Champion in 36 years. Nijinsky was successful from six furlongs to 1 ¾ miles (14 furlongs). 


Nijinsky continued his impressive ways at stud, establishing Northern Dancer as a major bloodline in Europe while toping the sire lists in England and Ireland.  Nijinsky is the only stallion to have the distinction of siring a Kentucky Derby and Epsom Derby winner in the same year.  He is classified as a Classic/Stout Chef-de-race, passing along strong stamina genes to his descendants.   Nijinsky was leading broodmare sire in the US two straight years.  Among his daughter’s prestigious offspring are 2000 Horse of the World and 2001 US Champion Fantastic Light, Champion Sprinter Rubiano, the Champion mares Flawlessly, Sky Beauty Heavenly Prize, and Belmont Stakes winner Colonial Affair. 


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 was impressive as two year old and at three, has developed into 17 hands high powerhouse. We stated in our 2011 pedigree profile of Union Rags that he had a borderline pedigree for classic distances due to the distance limitations imposed by his sire. We stated that Union Rags had other factors going for him and like Shackleford and Ruler On Ice, he could outperform his pedigree. Our prediction, based upon Union Rags’ pedigree, conformation, running style and talent indicated that he had a legitimate shot of winning or finishing in the top three in the Triple Crown races. 


According to his trainer Michal Matz, Union Rags may return to Saratoga for the Travers Stakes (G-1) this summer at Saratoga.  Union Rags appears to have it all, looks, talent and pedigree to be a success both on the track and eventually in the breeding shed. His sire Dixie Union certainly saved the best for last.


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Older Comments about Union Rags - The best son of Dixie Union...

QUOTE:"If of course some one actually used the dynamics of the race in conjuction with the speed and conditions you could throw away the form and just use them." That is exactly right....No form purchased here for years other than to read the BC and KD issues.
If of course some one actually used the dynamics of the race in conjuction with the speed and conditions you could throw away the form and just use them.
Speed Figures have verylittle value and mean nothing as they don't take into account the dynamics of a race.
"however he finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic"
The main reason his figure was so low was because he was tired and didn't have much left. As I keep saying, he peaked as a three year old. He may win a race here and there but who has he beaten? His fastest BSF was 100 and before that, he had never rated higher than a 93, so 96 was around his best range, no matter how big of a stride he has. All the excuses people keep making for him are getting a little tired.
Breeding to UR would produce a (most likely) tall, late maturing foal. Horses will larger size are more injury prone and expensive, or so I read (an article about Silky Sullivan).
  • KyOaksRunner · I tend to disagree with that. Curlin and Zenyatta were both large horses and were perfectly sound their whole careers. · 1950 days ago
What did everyone make of his 96 Beyer in the Belmont? His numbers are exceptionally low for a top tier 3-year-old colt but I'm convinced he's exceptional (obviously). It doesn't seem to match up to me. The Belmont was very slowly run this year and he didn't have a chance to run his best until Johnny V. got him through that hole on the rail so I'm thinking that's the main reason his figure was so low.
goblin, you are reading correctly. I'm not saying they should seriously do it, I said I would be curious to see what the foal would be like. But even if there isn't 'diversity', a horse will still produce great progeny...case and point, Cee's Tizzy. But, none the less, I am still curious. As far as your comment goes cocoa2, I'm curious about that as well. I would assume injury prone horse would be more predictable through thier pedigree rather than size, but one will never know for sure.
I still love High Cotton too!
AfterHours, am I reading correctly that you would like to see Zen and Rock Hard Ten bred? They both have Kris S pretty close up in their pedigrees--might want more diversity.
I sure hope she has a date with him! What a looker that would be! And a great runner. I dont think they should of bred her to tapit tho, some of the other stallys mentioned above would be better.
cocoa2, I feel the same way. It may sound crazy, but I'm curious to see what kind of foal she and RHT could produce? Him and Tiznow would be two decent picks (of recent generation sires).
Zenyatta should not be wasting her foals with UR. Galileo, Smart Strike, English Channel, Birdstone, Empire Maker and Distorted Humor are better (assuming pedigrees match).
Maybe he could have a visit from Zenyatta after he retires!!!!
Influencing pedigrees generations later
It can as some of greatest foundation mares La Trionne was still influencing horses pedigrees
His Dam side also include Secretariat but not sure if any of that matter as a 4th generation but you never know with these things.
He has a very nice dam side. I remember Glad Rags in Ireland. Very nice and versatile filly
17 Hands...damm..that is a big Boy!

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