Posts Tagged ‘Union Rags’

Preakness 2013 Contenders – Will Orb capture second jewel?

Congratulations to Kentucky Derby 2013 hero Orb, and it was nice to see Shug McGaughey saddle his first Derby winner as well. He looks like a runaway locomotive at this point and might be too hot to handle in Preakness 2013.

Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb

Congrats to Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Orb was one of my Exciting Prospects when I posted my first Derby Top 10 list last September. He lacked maturity in his first three outings but has really put everything together since. The Derby was his fifth straight win and he goes to Baltimore on a serious roll. He received a great pace setup in the Derby and it could be more of the same in the Preakness with the likes of Titletown Five and Goldencents on the engine early.

Speaking of rolls, jockey Joel Rosario has been unstoppable since winning the Dubai World Cup. Orb is currently preparing for the second jewel at Belmont Park and will ship to Pimlico early next week.

It is fun to talk about Orb’s Triple Crown chances but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. History is not on his side but he does possess all of the tools to give it a serious run. The son of Malibu Moon wheels back quickly on May 18 and it should be noted that he graduated off two weeks rest last year. I also saw a stat on TVG earlier this week about Shug McGaughey clicking at a 50% rate (6-for-12) when he brings horses back in 14-days. New shooter Departing might be his biggest competition.

Look out if Orb makes it past the Preakness but he will still have to beat fresh, talented rival Revolutionary at Big Sandy. That’s a discussion for another day.

Derby runner-up Golden Soul is pointing to the Belmont Stakes. He finished 2nd in the Derby because of the pace and will be an underlay in the Test of Champions.

My Derby selection Revolutionary, the top ranked contender on my Derby list since February, ran well to land the show on the first Saturday in May. I have not lost faith and he reminds me of my past Derby/Belmont picks Empire Maker and Union Rags.

Oxbow was too close to the rapid Derby pace and Normandy Invasion moved too soon. Both are players in Baltimore, especially the latter if Chad Brown opts to go in that direction.

Mylute took advantage of the fleet fractions and was in the show photo (finished 5th). If he runs in the Preakness, note that jockey Rosie Napravnik has plenty of Pimlico experience.

Will Take Charge was making a move with Orb in the Derby but Verrazano was backing up and stopped his momentum. The Derby was his first start beyond a mile and a sixteenth and he was coming off a layoff so it was not a bad effort finishing 8th.

Goldencents seemingly hated the Derby slop and will be part of the Preakness pace, especially if the track is fast.

Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5 contenders) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s Preakness 2013 Contenders

Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his fifth straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G1 Kentucky Derby (wet track) and the strong finisher adapts to various pace scenarios. Red hot jockey Joel Rosario has been on a roll since the Dubai Gold Cup and he is an obvious major stretch player in Baltimore.

Departing (War Front) – Finished 3rd in the productive Louisiana Derby and overcame a wide draw to smartly take down the Illinois Derby. The Al Stall Jr. runner is a dangerous new shooter and it is nice to see him join the Triple Crown series.

Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s colt trained aggressively and moved too soon under Javier Castellano in the Derby. He needs to sit back with Orb and make a big late run in the Preakness. He is reportedly much more relaxed since returning to New York. His ultimate goal is the G1 Travers at the Spa in August.

Mylute (Midnight Lute) – LA Derby runner-up rallied to finish 5th on the first Saturday in May under Rosie Napravnik. Trainer Tom Amoss said that his Preakness status would be revealed on Saturday morning.

Oxbow horse

Oxbow was too close to the hot Derby pace – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Oxbow (Awesome Again) – G3 Lecomte hero shows up for every dance and finished a solid 6th in the Derby after attending fast fractions from an inner post under Gary Stevens. Lukas trainee can rate but went all the way in both career wins. His main problem is that he is usually not quick enough to grab the early lead.

Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) – Smarty Jones/Rebel winner finished a respectable 8th in the Derby. He did find some traffic but that is to be expected in a 19-horse field. Mike Smith will ride in the Preakness and he could improve 2nd off the shelf.

Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Eddie Plesa Jr.’s colt was the talk of Florida earlier this year at the Gulf. The Holy Bull hero played second fiddle to Orb in the Florida Derby and finished a disappointing 15th on the first Saturday in May. John Velazquez will ride in the Preakness.

Preakness Dreamers:

Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Doug O’Neill’s quality early-pressing type seemingly hated the Derby wet track and the pace scenario did not help either. He earned a strong number in the SA Derby and is capable of big efforts on fast ground under the proper race shape.

Govenor Charlie (Midnight Lute) – Smartly captured G3 Sunland Derby in his third career start. The Baffert trainee has plenty of upside but still lacks seasoning. He wisely passed on the Derby and has seemingly recovered from a minor hind foot issue. Worked 6f in 1:11.80 (1/3) at Churchill Downs on 5-7.

Street Spice (Street Sense) – Illinois Derby 5th place finisher seems up against it in the Preakness. He likely needs to find a softer spot to be competitive. Breezed 5f from the gate in 1:03.40 (27/33) at Arlington Park on 5-4.

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Has lost all three starts this year and looks like a sprinter at this point. He will attend the Preakness pace before fading. Breezed 4f in :47.60 (5/35) at Churchill Downs on 5-7.

Vyjack (Into Mischief) – 18th place Derby finisher has now dropped two straight. He came out of the Wood Memorial with a lung infection and that hiccup probably cost him under the Twin Spires. He has talent but is not sharp right now.

Farm Hopping: Hello, Union Rags!

by Jarrod Horak

Earlier this week, I ventured to Lexington, Kentucky with Candice Curtis and Stacy Edwards to visit with some of our favorite equine stars.

First stop was Lane’s End Farm. We spent some quality time with the likes of After Market, Candy Ride, City Zip, Curlin, Discreetly Mine, English Channel, The Factor, Lemon Drop Kid, Pleasantly Perfect, Quality Road, Smart Strike, and Union Rags.

Seeing these equine legends brought back some handicapping memories. I was in the early stages of my stint with Racing On The Net when Lemon Drop Kid captured the Belmont Stakes, and he was one of my first significant online play of the day winners.

I made my first trek to Santa Anita Park for the 2003 Breeders’ Cup and Pleasantly Perfect won the Classic that year.

Jarrod and rags 2

Fast forward to 2012 and Union Rags was my Derby horse. He had a less than ideal trip that day but redeemed himself in the Belmont Stakes. He retired shortly after the Test of Champions and I relocated to Kentucky just in time to visit the regal looking son of Dixie Union. He was taking a nap when we first arrived but curiosity got the best of him and he came over to see what we were up to. I rubbed his nose a few times and the gentle giant went back to sleep in the blink of an eye.

Some delicious refreshments were offered including chili and quiche. Real men don’t eat quiche but I had some anyway before out next stop — Ashford Stud.

Coolmore America is an impressive operation with an imposing group of young stallions including Cape Blanco, Dunkirk, Hansen, Lookin At Lucky, Stay Thirsty, and Uncle Mo. It was also a pleasure to see veteran sires Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant’s Causeway, Tale of the Cat, and Thunder Gulch.

Candice got her picture taken with her early racing idol Thunder Gulch, and for Stacy it was all about Stay Thirsty.

Hansen horse

Hansen stood out with his soft, light coat. He seemed a bit edgy at first but calmed down nicely once he got outside and allowed us to get up close and personal. Our picture perfect day was not over yet, because we were only a hop, skip, and a jump from Three Chimneys.

Stacy told me to wear my Big Brown hat since she knew we would be visiting the 2008 Derby winner, but before that I had to get a glimpse of my 2001 Derby horse, Point Given.

Point Given horse

I was all over Point Given before, during, and after the 2001 Triple Crown trail, and I even traveled to Big Sandy to watch him romp in the Belmont Stakes. He seemed unaware that I was there but just as I was about to walk away he pranced over and allowed me to share a moment with him. To his right was young stallion Caleb’s Posse. Brilliant Speed was just down the road and Ice Box was in the middle of his meet and greet with the fans.

We journeyed outside and as we walked down the path, a horse handler looked at my hat and said “I know who you want to see.” Actually, Colonel John was my Derby horse that year, but I played along.

Big Brown horse

Big Brown is a magnificent looking bay son of Boundary, standing at 16.1 hands, and he seems to know that he is a Derby winner.

We proceeded to walk a bit further down the path and were greeted by Marketing and Communications Director Jen Roytz. She was very gracious and asked us if we would like to see any horses.

She showed us Exchange Rate, Red Giant, and War Chant, and walked us to the next viewing area to visit with I’ll Have Another’s proud papa Flower Alley, who seemed to set a world record for chowing down his food. Jen was very excited about showing off low profile sire Lewis Michael, and we were more than happy to the share our day with the handsome son of Rahy.

Before we left Three Chimneys, we had a lengthy conversation with a veteran bloodstock consultant and helped ourselves to some food offered during the open house. Chili was on the menu again, and although it was tasty, I have to give the cook-off award to Lane’s End.

Wise Dan

We hopped in the car and headed to our final destination, Keeneland. It was the first day of the January sale but before hitting the pavilion, we toured the grounds, snapped some more photos, and reminisced about last year’s stakes winners through the eyes of the lawn jockeys.

As for the sale, Trip for A. J. (hip 241) went for $310k, and we left after Big Tiz (hip 299) brought down the gavel at a cool $600k.

This was our first of many planned Kentucky farm visits. 2013 is off to a wonderful start and that spring aroma in the not too distant future can only mean one thing – live racing at Keeneland is just around the corner!

If you would like to view more of our farm adventure pictures, please visit Stacy’s Kentucky Horse Racing Photos page.

Beyond the Crown – Union Rags retired

Much has happened since my last update. Union Rags was diagnosed with a suspensory injury a month after capturing the G1 Belmont Stakes and was officially retired on Friday. I was hoping he would return as a 4yo but it was not meant to be. At least he captured a classic and ended his career on a high note.

Union Rags

My longtime #1 ranked 3yo Union Rags has been retired and will enter stud in 2013 – photo by Eclipse Sportwire

In other 3yo news, Bodemeister spiked a temperature and is out of the Haskell. Baffert will replace him in the Monmouth showcase with Belmont Stakes runner-up Paynter.

Went The Day Well, my disappointing Preakness top, has bone bruising in both front ankles and is done for the year. He is expected to return to the races in Florida this winter.

Holy Candy was pulled up as the heavy favorite in Wednesday’s Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar. He will undergo tests soon to determine the problem.

I have only had two horses occupy the top spot in my Triple Crown trail and beyond rankings. Alpha was number one until last year’s BC Juvenile and Union Rags took over until his retirement. Alpha appears to be poised for a big summer/fall campaign and is back on top of the heap.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Active 3-Year-olds

Alpha horse

Alpha regains my top spot following retirement of Union Rags – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

1. Alpha (Bernardini) – Wood Memorial runner-up was last seen finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby. He had a leg infection after the Wood and spiked a fever and missed the Belmont Stakes. He is working extremely well for the Jim Dandy and breezed 4f in :49.58 (31/63) at Saratoga on July 21.

2. Gemologist (Tiznow) – His perfect record went down the tubes in the Derby but he came out of that with a foot bruise. He goes next in the Jim Dandy or Haskell and fired a 5f bullet in :58.40 (1/43) at Saratoga on 7-22.

3. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – The Derby-Preakness bridesmaid spiked a temperature and is out of the Haskell. The BC Classic is his ultimate goal if his heath cooperates. No published works since 7-8.

4. Hansen (Tapit) – Juvenile champion got back on the beam in facile G3 Iowa Derby victory. The G2 West Virginia Derby on 8-4 is probably up next, followed by the Travers. Could still alter plans and try the Haskell. Breezed 5f in 1:01 (1/2) at Churchill (training track) on July 17.

5. Paynter (Awesome Again) – Gave Union Rags a run for his money in the Test of Champions. Baffert’s lightly raced colt now has his eye on the Haskell and worked 6f in 1:13.20 (1/6) at Del Mar on July 18.

6. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Kentucky Derby show finisher flopped in the Belmont. He loves Keeneland’s Polytrack and is a competent turf performer as well. He is pointing to the Haskell and fired a 5f bullet in :59.80 (1/15) at Churchill Downs on 7-21.

7. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer exits back-to-back sharp Churchill wins and made the grade in the Matt Winn on June 16. Jim Dandy is next and he breezed 5f in 1:00.65 (3/22) at Saratoga on July 17.

8. Nonios (Pleasantly Perfect) – Hollendorfer’s consistent late developer exits a solid place finish behind lone speedster Blueskiesnrainbows in the G2 Swaps. The Haskell is next and he worked 5f in 1:01.80 (14/37) at Del Mar on July 17.

9. Summer Front (War Front) – Ran his turf record to 5-for-5 in sharp Duluth win at the Spa on July 22. He could face fellow turf win machine Silver Max in the near future.

10. Ever So Lucky (Indian Charlie) – Impressive Delaware return vs. four overmatched rivals July 5. Sheppard’s highly regarded colt breezed 5f in :59.38 (3/43) under Johnny V at Saratoga on 7-22. He goes next in Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on July 27.

Beyond the Crown – Hansen rights his ship

Juvenile champion Hansen rebounded from a 9th place finish in the Kentucky Derby to trounce four overmatched rivals in the G3 Iowa Derby (97 BSF) on June 30. The Michael Maker trainee has his confidence back and will try to make it two straight in the G2 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer on August 3.

Hansen

Hansen got back on the beam at Prairie Meadows – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Teeth of the Dog, stablemate of Union Rags, gamely captured the G2 Dwyer at Belmont Park on June 30. The Michael Matz trainee earned a 92 BSF and will take on Hansen in West Virginia next.

In other 3-year-old stakes action, Bob Baffert sent out Blueskiesnrainbows in the G2 Swaps and he controlled the tempo and kept on finding on the fourth of July. G3 Affirmed winner Nonios rallied for the place and Baffert runner Liaison finished 3rd. The winner earned a 102 BSF.

My Adonis threw his hat into the Haskell following a game ½ length score over Macho Macho in Monmouth’s Long Branch Stakes on July 8.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Active 3-Year-olds

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – My longtime top ranked sophomore goes next in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park on Sunday, July 29. The Belmont Stakes hero breezed 5f in 1:00.60 (1/7) at Fair Hill on July 6.

Bodemeister

Bodemeister worked five panels on July 8 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

2. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – The Derby-Preakness bridesmaid was tuckered out after his 3rd race in 5-weeks at Pimlico. His early speed is especially dangerous up to nine panels and he could prove an elusive target in the Haskell. Worked 5f in 1:01 (11/31) at Santa Anita on 7-8.

3. Alpha (Bernardini) – Leg infection after the Wood Memorial probably contributed to his 12th place Derby effort. He spiked a fever and missed the Belmont Stakes. He is currently stabled at Saratoga and fired a 4f bullet in :47.33 (1/16) on July 7.

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – His perfect record went down the tubes in the Derby but he came out of that with a foot bruise. He is back in Pletcher’s barn with an eye on the Travers. Breezed 5f in 1:04.88 (8/10) at Saratoga (dirt training) on 7-2.

5. Hansen (Tapit) – Juvenile champion got back on the beam in facile G3 Iowa Derby victory. The G2 West Virginia Derby on 8-4 is up next, followed by the Travers.

6. Paynter (Awesome Again) – Gave Union Rags a run for his money in the Test of Champions. Baffert’s lightly raced colt should continue to develop. He zipped 5f in :58.60 (1/19) on July 4 and could resurface in Saratoga’s Jim Dandy on July 28.

7. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Kentucky Derby show finisher flopped in the Belmont. He loves Keeneland’s Polytrack and is a competent turf performer as well. Look for him to resurface in the Haskell. Breezed 5f in 1:01 (2/11) at Churchill Downs on 7-7.

8. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer ran into the likes of Union Rags in Florida earlier this year. He exits back-to-back sharp Churchill wins and made the grade in the Matt Winn on June 16.

9. Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) – G3 Spiral Stakes hero finished a troubled 4th in the Derby. My Preakness top flopped in the second jewel and seemingly had nothing left to offer after his aforementioned bad trip two weeks earlier. Breezed 4f in :48.40 (1/14) at Fair Hill on 6-23 and 5f in 1:01.20 (4/16) on 6-30.

10. Holy Candy (Candy Ride) – Expecting big things from Sadler’s late developing colt. He exits a needed show finish in the G3 Affirmed and goes next in the Oceanside at Del Mar on July 18. Worked 6f in 1:13.80 (2/7) at Hollywood Park on 7-5.

Beyond the Crown – Union Rags back on the beam

It is that time again. My annual Beyond the Triple Crown series top ten list is back in full swing and Union Rags got his much deserved Classic in the Belmont Stakes as I predicted. He has been my top ranked Triple Crown series colt since last November and remains the top dog after getting back on the beam under new pilot John Velazquez.

Union Rags

Union Rags wears down Paynter in Belmont Stakes – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The Test of Champions was only the beginning of things to come from the talented Matz trainee. A marathon is obviously not his best trip but he figured to handle it based on stamina influences on the female side of his pedigree and class pulled him through.

The Travers Stakes is the main summer goal for Union Rags with a prior pit stop in the Jim Dandy or Haskell.

Paynter is the new kid on the block and he came through with flying colors in the Belmont Stakes. He made the pace but could not hold off my troubled Derby top when the real running began. Baffert is looking at the Travers for the son of Awesome Again as well.

Baffert also has Derby-Preakness runner-up Bodemeister for the Haskell.

A few parting words on I’ll Have Another. It was a shame that he missed the Belmont Stakes and subsequently retired but part of the Triple Crown challenge is the ability to withstand the rigors of three races in five weeks. It takes a very sturdy horse to make the gate in Kentucky, Maryland, and New York.

I never believed that I’ll Have Another was going to sweep the Triple Crown. The last eleven horses to go for the Triple Crown sweep went down in flames and there is a reason why horses exiting the Preakness have only managed two wins in the last fourteen editions of the Belmont Stakes. He is the clear leader of the sophomore division and it will take a huge second half by Union Rags to take the title away from him.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Active 3-Year-olds

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – I refused to drop him from my top spot after troubled trips in the Florida Derby/Ketucky Derby and my stubbornness was rewarded in the Belmont Stakes. We have not come close to seeing his best and I am looking for a big second half.

Bodemeister

Bodemeister eyes Haskell – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

2. Bodemeister (Empire Maker) – The Derby-Preakness bridesmaid was tuckered out after his 3rd race in 5-weeks at Pimlico. His early speed is especially dangerous up to nine panels and he could prove an elusive target in the Haskell.

3. Alpha (Bernardini) – Leg infection after the Wood Memorial probably contributed to his 12th place Derby effort. He spiked a fever and missed the Belmont Stakes. He is currently stabled at Saratoga with the Jim Dandy a possibility.

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – His perfect record went down the tubes in the Derby but he came out of that with a foot bruise. He is back in Pletcher’s barn with an eye on the Travers.

5. Hansen (Tapit) – Juvenile champion finished 9th on the first Saturday in May. He could show up in the G3 Iowa Derby on 6-30, followed by the G2 West Virginia Derby on 8-4. He fired a 5f bullet in 1:00.60 (1/14) over the Churchill training track on 6-16.

6. Paynter (Awesome Again) – Gave Union Rags a run for his money in the Test of Champions. Baffert’s lightly raced colt should continue to develop. He could resurface in Saratoga’s Jim Dandy on July 28.

7. Dullahan (Even The Score) – Kentucky Derby show finisher flopped in the Belmont. He loves Keeneland’s Polytrack and is a competent turf performer as well. Look for him to possibly resurface in the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs on July 21.

8. Neck ‘n Neck (Flower Alley) – Late bloomer ran into the likes of Union Rags in Florida earlier this year. He exits back-to-back sharp Churchill wins and made the grade in the Matt Winn on June 16.

9. Went The Day Well (Proud Citizen) – G3 Spiral Stakes hero finished a troubled 4th in the Derby. My Preakness top flopped in the second jewel and seemingly had nothing left to offer after his aforementioned bad trip two weeks earlier.

10. Holy Candy (Candy Ride) – Expecting big things from Sadler’s late developing colt. He exits a needed show finish in the G3 Affirmed and probably goes next in G2 Swaps on July 4. Breezed 4f in :49.60 (25/36) at Hollywood Park on 6-13.

Union Rags Captures Belmont Stakes 2012

How sweet it is. Union Rags received a ground saving trip and ran down a game Paynter in the final strides to capture the 144th Belmont Stakes at Big Sandy on June 9.

Union Rags

Union Rags beats Paynter in Belmont Stakes 2012 – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I have been touting this horse since last September and it was great to see my Derby top redeem himself under new pilot John Velazquez.

He has been my top ranked Triple Crown series contender since last November and I never lost faith after a pair of troubled journeys in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby under Julien Leparoux.

Michael Matz did a great job preparing the strapping son of Dixie Union for the Test of Champions and he received stamina from the female side of his pedigree as predicted.

This was the start of a big second half of 2012 for Union Rags and it is on to races like the Travers, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

I hope to catch up with him in person at Santa Anita Park in the fall!

 

 

 

Belmont Stakes 2012 Bloodlines: Union Rags

Which horse has the best pedigree to handle twelve furlongs in the final leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday, June 9 at Belmont Park? My Belmont Stakes alphabetical list continues with Union Rags.

Belmont stakes 2012 logo

Union Rags’s late sire Dixie Union (by Dixieland Band) won the G1 Haskell in 2000, defeating Captain Steve and Milwaukee Brew. He also captured the G1 Malibu in his final career start and sired 39 stakes winners from his first eight crops including Gone Astray and Grasshopper. Dixie Union’s offspring are usually effective up to a mile and an eighth.

Dixie Union’s sire was Dixieland Band (by Northern Dancer), a Maryland-bred horse I remember when I first started following racing in the early 1980’s. Dixieland Band won the G2 Pennsylvania Derby and G2 Mass ‘Cap. He also competed in the 1983 Belmont Stakes and finished 14th.

Read the rest of this post at HorseRacingNation.com.

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