Horse: Union Rags
Trainer: Michael Matz
Pedigree: By Dixie Union out of a Gone West mare (Tempo)
Career Record: 7-4-1-1
Career Earnings: $1,198,800
Notable Races: G1-Kentucky Derby (7th); G1-Florida Derby (3rd); G2-Fountain of Youth (1st); G1-Breeders' Cup Juvenile (2nd); G1-Champagne Stakes (1st); G2-Saratoga Special (1st)
Can He Win The 2012 Belmont Stakes?:
Following a couple of tough trips for Union Rags in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby, trainer Michael Matz decided to make a jockey change heading into the Belmont, replacing Julien Leparoux with John Velazquez. Johnny V. is the fourth different jock to ride Union Rags; Julien Pimentel rode Union Rags in his debut win, Javier Castallano rode him during his stakes wins as a juvenile, and Leparoux inherited the mount for all three of his starts in 2012. Matz is hoping that Velazquez can help to change Union Rags' racing luck.
A top concern for Union Rags in the Belmont is his ability to handle the mile and a half distance. Union Rags is a son of Dixie Union, a sire that produces offspring that win at an average distance of 6.9 furlongs. His dam sire, Gone West, produces offspring that win at an average distance of 7.4 furlongs. While it's unusual to see any horses in America today that are bred to run a mile and a half, the sprint/miler pedigree of Union Rags is probably a little on the short side.