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Belmont Stakes 2012: Matz hoping Union Rags has 'clear chance to run'
By Jay Privman
It is with a mixture of frustration, hope, and envy that Michael Matz prepares Union Rags to take on I’ll Have Another in the 144th Belmont Stakes on June 9 at Belmont Park.
Frustration because of the terrible trip Union Rags had in the Kentucky Derby on May 5. Hope that Union Rags can show his best in the Belmont. And envy that another horse is going for the Triple Crown.
“I thought this horse could win the Triple Crown,” Matz said of Union Rags during a national teleconference Wednesday. “But you have to let it go, because it’s not going to come back.”
Matz admits, though, that he has had a tough time letting it go. He won the Derby with Barbaro in 2006, and thought he had a chance to do it again with Union Rags.
“It’s very disappointing,” Matz said, the frustration evident in his voice. “Everything went absolutely perfect until the last two minutes.
“How many times,” Matz added, “do you have one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby?”
Julien Leparoux rode Union Rags in his last three races. He was aboard for a runaway victory in the Fountain of Youth Stakes to start the 2012 campaign, but Union Rags had troubled trips in both the Florida Derby and then the Kentucky Derby.
“I didn’t think after the Florida Derby it could happen again,” Matz said. “It was worse. I thought he was sitting on a big race the last two races.”
As a result, John Velazquez will replace Leparoux in the Belmont.
“I don’t know whose fault it is,” Matz said. “Maybe it’s the jockey’s fault. Maybe it’s the horse’s fault. Maybe it’s the trainer’s fault. Maybe we won’t have a better result. But we have to try something.”
Union Rags already has run, and run well, at Belmont Park, the site of his eye-catching victory last fall in the Champagne Stakes. But, like every other horse in the Belmont, his aptitude at 1 1/2 miles is unknown.
“Whether he can get a mile and a half, I don’t know,” Matz said. “He’s a big horse. The bigger turns help.”
What Matz is most desirous of is a clean trip, one where Union Rags can, as he put it, “use his stride.” Regardless of the result, Matz at least wants the satisfaction of knowing Union Rags had a fair chance to show his best.
“I just hope, in this race, he gets a clear chance to run,” Matz said. “I’d like him to get a clean trip, so he can show what he can do. He never had a chance to run his last two races.
“I expect him to come in in top form,” Matz added. “If he’s good enough, you’ll see the true Union Rags.”
Union Rags has been at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland since the Derby, and he will remain there until Belmont week. He is scheduled to have a workout late this week, Matz said, and another at the end of next week, both at Fair Hill. Matz said Union Rags had a “two-minute lick” last Friday, but it was not a workout that made the tab.
While Matz has great respect for what I’ll Have Another has accomplished so far, he said he “wouldn’t be going in there if we didn’t think we could beat him.”
To best accomplish that goal, Matz decided to give Union Rags five weeks between the Derby and Belmont and bypass the Preakness. That is a schedule that has proven effective in the last decade for Belmont winners like Summer Bird (2009), Jazil (2006), and Triple Crown spoilers Birdstone (2004) and Empire Maker (2003).
Matz said he decided to skip the Preakness because “I didn’t see any sense in coming back in two weeks.”
“It’s a long year,” he said. “And he couldn’t win the Triple Crown.”
◗ I’ll Have Another, the Derby and Preakness winner, went to the track at Belmont Park on Wednesday morning for a training session after merely walking the last three days following his Preakness win Saturday. He arrived Sunday at Belmont Park, where he had never previously set foot. I’ll Have Another is only expected to gallop the rest of the week and will not have any serious training until at least next week, when his trainer, Doug O’Neill, returns from his base in California.
◗ Rosie Napravnik will ride Five Sixteen in the Belmont, according to her agent, Matt Muzikar. Julie Krone, in the 1993 Belmont aboard Colonial Affair, is the only female jockey to win a Triple Crown race.
I have followed racing for many years and i know the belmont stakes is the hardest to win . I do believe that it takes a horse with good stamina and a good stretch kick to win the belmont. So there is no beating dullahan, nothing can touch this horse.Come on now boys , do u really think union rags can beat dullhan? This horse is kicking ass at belmont and look who is riding..omg..pump that fist castellano!!!!
One simple question? You have two daughters and feel one is destined for greatness, the other just OK. How might you name them? A: Kate & Pippa Now let's make an analogy: Two racehorses to name. One is destined for greatness, you feel, the other not. How would you name them? A: Secreteriat & I'll Have Another.
Matz / Brette ........ Look at the bright side of things - if there is a rainbow : For anyone that has been around thoroughbreds , nd I mean actually being involved at the stables - I dont think anyone can honestly say that UNION RAGS has been totally over-rated . Watch the movie ( Oh God ) with John Denver - George Burns . Did people believe their relly was ever a God ! Weird things started to happen , then people slowly started to believe . I have visited with Matz / Brette many many many times since the Champagne Stakes last year . And when 2012 came rolling around , Matz / Brette was very excited about the Triple Crown . As I see it as now - the Belmont Stakes will be a ( C A K E - W A L K ) for UNION RAGS , and the connections will not just try to win by a little margin " OH - NO " They will want the whole world to see UNION RAGS ! All this HYPE - TALK about we hope we can get the ( Mile n Half ) Ha Ha Haaaaaaaaaaaaa Peter Brette : hey buddy - come on now ! Tell it like it is now , you say that NOTHING WILL TOUGH UNION RAGS IN THE BELMONT STAKES ................................ and I Totally agree ! This race ( SHOULD ) look just like the POINT GIVEN Belmont Stakes ROMPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP ! You Can Bank On It !
Kentucky Derby is By Far the toughest race to win . Being ready , believing you have the colt ready , thnking everything looks tuned and ready for best ..................... 75% of the time - all else fails . The best colt rarely WINS the Derby . But whos to really say at that pont-in-time whom the best colt really is . Its purely a guess , wait and see . Sure , its easy to determine whom the populaity colt may be , but when there are 20 colts in the first Saturday in May taking a stand in the Derby , we as people hardly ever see Greatness till after the math . Back in late fall 2011 " who was " Ill Have Another ! In the very early Spring of 2012 " who was " Ill Have Another ! Track Analysis BRAD FREE was catching on to this colt rather quickly , and was Absolutely correct . My hat goes off to Brad , even though Brad always leans towards the West for his Derby pick . I myself , am a huge UNION RAGS believer . I have known Peter Brette for many years , I have 100% faith in what he thinks and believes . Brette knows UNION RAGS like No-One else . Brette says that UNION RAGS ( Can Not Be Touched ) in the Belmont Stakes , and I am totally convinced as well .......................................... The Kentucky Derby : IS THE TOUGHEST - HARDEST race to Win in the United States . ( IF YOU HAVE THE COLT FOR THE COURSE ) the Belmont Stakes " can be a cake walk "
The Belmont is the hardest of all of them to win - we all know that - 9 horses have come there in the past 34 years with the Derby & Preakness in their pockets and could not close the deal OK! I Will Have Another is now the 10th horse to do the same and Super Mario is just not that Super - given his lack of experience riding at Belmont - which is a tricky track to ride on - that is a huge minus !! Union Rags was 18-1 to win the Triple Crown - which is really a stupid bet at best - any horse should be 100-1 to do that at this point...that said Johnny V knows Belmont pretty well and if he has the Union Rags of the past - it could upset the apple cart. IWH is 3/5 - PLEASE!! those odds are not real , he is not a cinch - no horse is - go for a price is what I say - no matter who you bet!!
As wide and long as this track is, if UR doesnt run his race here, he wont have any excuses left....LOL
excellent blog here. i am probably too late to join in the fun but for what it is worth, as a life-long gambler, there are many reasons why the last 11 triple crown hopefuls failed in their attempts at glory. lack of stamina, poor training, rider error and just plain hard luck. bottom line is in this era of horse racing it is increasingly difficult to win all 3 jewels. The fresh horse angle has worked well over the past decade and is in play once again with UR and Dull. This Belmont will be awesome baby! Go IHA!
Wow whats Rickey Martin smokin with comments that IHA is underrated and over hyped. Dude are you serious this horse won the Derby, Preakness, S.A derby please man get your facts straight. IHA must of took all your coins pal. Although i see UR as the main danger to IHA triple crown feat. YOU must give respect where respect is due!!
BLAH BLAH BLAH DON'T HATE THE HORSE HATE THE GAME NASAL STRIP OR NOT THAT ROOKIE JOCKIE MARIO HAS HUNG WITH THE BIG BOYS AND WILL SHOW HE'S FOR REAL ANOTHER ANGEL CORDERO IN THE MAKING!!!!!!!!!!!!
With J. R. Velasquez replacing the highly highly overrated J. R. Leperaux the race will be decided within 30 yards of the finish line with Dullahan possibly ahead of Union Rags by a whisker. Or the reverse, Union Rags wins, Dullahan places. Third to any horse EXCEPT I'll Have Another. That horse is overhyped and undertalented. Without a Nasal Strip and whatever on Belmont Day he WON'T HIT THE BOARD! You heard it here first. If you can access Betfair abroad due to your having British relatives, wire transfer funds to your relatives and have them LAY the odds AGAINST I'll Have Another. I congratulate the stewards of the NYRA for prohibiting O'Neill, et. al. from using Nasal Strips on IHA in the running of the Belmont Stakes June 9th. I intend to bet against a Triple Crown winner "for my lungs" as they say in Horse Degenis parlance.
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