06/10/2012 12:33PM

Belmont Stakes 2012: Union Rags will rest until Jim Dandy or Haskell

Tom Keyser
Union Rags, with jockey John Velazquez, will get a brief vacation before preparing for his next start in late July at either Saratoga or Monmouth Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Union Rags, who won the 144th Belmont Stakes here at Belmont Park on Saturday, was back in his stall at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland by 1 a.m. early Sunday and will get a brief vacation before pointing for major summer races, trainer Michael Matz said Sunday.

"He was out in his paddock from 7 to 9:30,” Matz said in a conference call with reporters on Sunday morning. “He went for a roll, then was eating some grass, was watching the other horses go out and train.”

[BELMONT STAKES: Replay, chart, full DRF coverage]

Matz said the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 28, or the Haskell at Monmouth on July 29, are the next likely options for Union Rags. After that, he will be aimed at the Travers Stakes on Aug. 25 at Saratoga, Matz said.

Union Rags was a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby in his previous start, and that will turn out to be his only head-to-head meeting with I’ll Have Another, who won the Derby and the Preakness and then was retired on Friday on the eve of his scheduled Triple Crown bid in the Belmont. Matz said he believes Union Rags still has a chance to claim the 3-year-old male Eclipse Award, but realizes he must build a stronger resume, while fending off challenges from the likes of Bodemeister, the Derby and Preakness runner-up.

“It all depends on how we finish the season,” Matz said. “I’ll Have Another, we raced one time against him. He was very impressive in those two races,” he said, referring to the Derby and Preakness.

Matz added, “We’re not throwing in the towel by any means.”

Union Rags was second in Eclipse voting last year for champion 2-year-old male to Hansen, who narrowly beat Union Rags in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Matz said both Union Rags and jockey John Velazquez deserved credit for their brave rally along the rail in the stretch of the Belmont.

“It was an awfully small hole for such a big horse to fit through,” Matz said. “You’ve got to give him and Johnny credit. They got it done. When I saw the head-on, it wasn’t that big a hole.”

Paynter, who finished second in the Belmont, also came out of the race in good order, according to Jim Barnes, the assistant to trainer Bob Baffert. Owner Ahmed Zayat said on Twitter Sunday morning that Baffert told him Paynter came back without his left shoe, and while Barnes confirmed that, he said there was no damage to the hoof, and theorized the shoe came off late in the race, or even after the race.

“He tried to come out of his stall this morning,” Barnes said at Belmont Park. “This horse is unbelievable. He takes so much training, runs a mile and a half, and he’s still aggressive.”

Dullahan, who finished seventh in the field of 11 as the favorite, “came back fine,” trainer Dale Romans said Sunday morning.

“He didn’t seem like he was handling the track,” Romans said. “It was deep and cuppy yesterday.”

Romans said Dullahan may go back to the turf in the immediate future.

“That’s a good option. We’ll look at all our options,” Romans said. “He’ll get a little freshener. He’s going back to Kentucky tomorrow.”

I’ll Have Another is scheduled to fly back to California on Monday, and will stay at trainer Doug O’Neill’s barn for the time being.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch

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steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
drop dead
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steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
i make $300,000 +/year playing horses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will not see many closers come on the inside like UR did in the Belmont. That to me makes his win all the better. You can place him anywhere and he will go thru such a small hole on the rail says he is a very game and sound horse. Paynter and Bode came back from those races without a drop of mud on them, UR was covered in dirt but it did'nt bother him. UR can kick it in from 1 mile to 1 1/2 miles and win. With Bode, UR, and Payter looking like the best 3yo it will be fun watching the showdown in the Travers, the 4th leg of the Quadriple crown. West needs to up the purse on the Affirmed and Swaps stakes to give them equal billng with the East.
Kim Lee More than 1 year ago
conversation between Bodie Baffert Zayat and Paynter Zayat pz--I tell ya BB, as he went by---he winked at me!! I didn't like it one durn bit.... BB--so what's the big deal pz? pz--It was like he was sayin...."that's all ya got?"...Hell I was busy with Atigun till that varmit rolled by.. BB--Ahh..he ain't nuthin..I handled him back in Kentucky pz--he not the same when you met him BB! i'm tellin ya!!..JV on em now! BB--don't fret little bruddah...we gone take care of his kind----NOBODY! and I mean NOBODY winks at a Z....unless they family! pz--I heard a lot of rumors that he has "TURBO", but no one has ever seen it yet... but he sprouted some wings from his hooves when he went by me ,then they disappeared?! BB--well he gone need more than that to get by the likes of me...hell, I did battle with one of my nemeses and he needed a special blend of oats before it catched up with em pz--what ya mean BB? BB--Dem oats had a side effect to um...they made you do bad things to yourself..ya know pz--so what's the plan BB? BB--get yourself in shape and head up to saratoga...i'ma go to monmouth---that way no matter which way he go, the Z boy's be there...thing's gone be heatin up..
Kip Moench More than 1 year ago
Union Rags is going to rest? What? Again? After one of the slowest Belmont's in history? After just having five weeks of rest.? Wow! You would think he was 8 or 9 years old, instead of 3. He sure does need a lot of rest.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
there are no graded races for 3 year olds until the haskell or dwyer or jim dandy or travers. what's he supposed to do knucklehead???
Robert More than 1 year ago
Kip, there's not really much for graded races coming up. But I do get your sentiment, especially coming from on the heels of the IHA lightning decision to retire and again the lightning retirement party.
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
Theres no way Union Rags will run down Bodemeister or Paynter at 1 1/8. The slower the pace the better union rags is. Increase the Pace and UR shrinks significantly. He got up in the Belmont because of the slow pace, againt a horse who has not beaten graded stakes horses. However, Paynter has much more upside than UR. I believe Paynter will continue to Improve. Bodemeister is dangerous in the haskell I thought Baffert will keep one of these colts in California, but he has Game on Dude out there. Second half of the season goes through Bode or Paynter and Baffert will be sitting pretty.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
good grief.... he wired trinniberg in the saratoga special at 6 1/2 furlongs. he's learned to rate to carry his natural speed a distance of ground.... now after winning at 1 1/2 he could wire either field if allowed to take the lead early..... they would have to catch him.. good luck with that...
robert More than 1 year ago
It's nice to have dreams. And to be in love with someone the way you are with Baffert and his horses.
Mark Ford More than 1 year ago
Mark FordLess than a minute ago Has it completely escaped everyones attention that had Smith stayed in the one path UR gets the same ride from Johnny V that Leperoux was crucified for. See..Florida Derby. The horse is awesome but he lacks agility.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although UR won yesterday he still hasn't proven much in a race that IHA scared off any credible opposition. Matz needs to come off his Barbaroo high and train and spot his horses to their true abilities. It rarely pans out that a champion 2yo goes on to totally dominate as a 3yo. If he felt so highly about UR why skip the Preakness and try to pull an ambush in NY.
Mark Ford More than 1 year ago
Has it completely escaped everyones attention that had Smith stayed in the one path UR gets the same ride from Johnny V that Leperoux was crucified for. See..Florida Derby. The horse is awesome but he lacks agility.
robert More than 1 year ago
I really don't think IHA scared off anyone in the Belmont. He was the only one that scratched out of the race. I remember because they that he was going to face 11 other runners. Who did you hope to see Bodemeister who was tired and didn't have any reason to run in the Belmont. When you say stuff like why skip the Preakness it shows that you have no clue what you are talking about. Union Rags had nothing to run in the Preakness for. Just like Dullahan. Just like your Monster Bodemeister not running in the Belmont. Was he scared or did Baffert feel there was nothing for him to run for? Now I'm not sure but I think that Union Rags just won the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes which would tell me that he belongs in Grade 1 company. But you being so wise obviously thinks otherwise. Perhaps a $20,000 claimer Santa Anita would be better for him? Thanks for you infinite wisdom Anonymous.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Union Rags has the speed to stalk Bode and catch him... go watch the saratoga special and champagne victories...... he's push-button.... and with another freshening he'll have even more natural speed.... for rags to earn an eclipse he has to race bode and win......
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
will Paynter get back to 105+ Beyers in the near future? if he does,he,along with Bode would be the best 3yo's at 1 1/4 mi.,right? based on belmont it looks like Paynter can handle UR at 1 1/4 mi., even on a sandy track.
Sean Ali More than 1 year ago
Not really...think about it. Would a horse start making his move at the 1/4 pole if it were the finish line?