|Union Rags splashes to victory in the Saratoga Special|
Photo: Adam Coglianese, Courtesy of NYRA
The handsome bay son of Dixie Union, conditioned by Barbaro's trainer, Michael Matz, was winning his second race in as many starts, after a successful debut in a five-furlong maiden special weight contest at Delaware last month. Union Rags has now banked $318,800, and is on his way to repaying the $390,000 that his breeder Phyllis Wyeth (aka "Chadds Ford Stable") paid to buy him back at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Two-Year-Old Sale in March.
The colt had been pinhooked to the two-year-old venue by IEAH, which had plucked him out of the 2010 Saratoga Selected Yearlings Sale, where Wyeth had sold him for $145,000. With his victory in the Saratoga Special, Union Rags earned a $200,000 bonus for Ms. Wyeth, because he was the first member of the crop sold at last year's Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Sale to win a graded stakes at Saratoga.
Union Rags is from one of the last crops sired by Dixie Union, a multiple graded stakes-winning son of Dixieland Band who won seven of his 12 starts at two and three, including the Grade II Norfolk at a mile, the Grade I Malibu at seven furlongs, and the Grade I Haskell at a mile and an eighth. The rangy, long-striding colt gives every indication that like his sire, he'll have no problem going a greater distance than the six-and-a-half furlongs he conquered today.
Union Rags has a strong infusion of stamina from the family of his dam, the winning Gone West mare, Tempo, who has produced six other winners, including Union Rags' full brother, the stakes-placed Geefour. His second dam, the superior turf mare, Terpsichorist (by Nijinsky II) is herself a multiple stakes producer, out of the influential Glad Rags (GB), a Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in Ireland. She is the ancestress of many good horses, including Belmont and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Colonial Affair.
While Union Rags represents Dixie Union's first stakes winner from a Gone West mare, he is but one of several stakes winners produced by the stallion when he was bred to mares by Mr. Prospector and his sons. Other successful examples of this nick include last year's Demoiselle-G2 winner, Dixie City (from City Sister, by Brilliant/Intermediate Chef-de-Race Carson City), multiple graded stakes winner, Gone Astray (from Illicit, by Mr. Prospector), and Astarita-G3 winner Sensation (from Ryn, by Mr. Prospector).
As for what lies ahead for Union Rags, trainer Matz is considering his options. "Obviously, our main goal is for next year," he said, "but we'll just have to see how he is and look for something in about a month or five weeks." After the way he ran today, it's hard not to believe that the best of Union Rags is yet to come.