02/19/2012 4:13PM

Gulfstream: Union Rags among three Kentucky Derby prospects busy working

Tom Keyser
Union Rags, shown exercising last week, prepped for next Sunday's Fountain of Youth by working four furlongs in 48.64 seconds.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -   Trainer Michael Matz put the finishing touches on Union Rags’s preparations for his 3-year-old debut when he worked  the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up four furlongs in 48.64 seconds from the gate Sunday morning at Palm Meadows.

Union Rags was one of three top Kentucky Derby prospects to work at Palm Meadows on an unseasonably warm morning along with trainer Todd Pletcher’s pair of El Padrino and Gemologist.

Union Rags, with regular exercise rider Peter Brett aboard, posted splits of 13.29 and 24.96 before galloping out five eighths in 101.59.  Sunday’s work was the sixth for Union Rags since he returned to training with Matz at Palm Meadows shortly after New Year’s Day

“He did it easily and galloped out fine,” said Matz. “Peter said he felt good and they were happy with him at the gate.  I just wanted to pop him out of the gate to give him a little reminder,  especially since the others in this race have been running. Other than having a race, he’s as ready as he possibly can be for Sunday.”

Union Rags will be among the favorites in next Sunday’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, along with Pletcher’s duo of Algorithms and Discreet Dancer. Other confirmed starters include Csaba, Fort Loudon, and Casual Trick. 

El Padrino was extremely impressive, working an easy four furlongs in 48.67 in company with stablemate Our Entourage. El Padrino galloped out very strong,  five-eighths in 1:01.20 and six furlongs in 1:14.42 before pulling up seven furlongs  in 1:28.82. Gemologist, on the other hand, got leg weary at the end of his five-furlong drill, posting splits of 24.46 and 36.74 before completing the distance in 1:04.01.

Other workers of note at Palm Meadows on Sunday included Awesome Maria, five-eighths in 1:00.54 with a final three-eighths in 35 and change in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 3 Sabin; This Cat’s All That, the same distance in 1:01.57, and Grace Hall, an easy half-mile in 48.67. This Cat’s All That and Grace Hall are among the likely starters in Saturday’s Grade 2 Davona Dale.    

Sunday’s star-studded tab at Gulfstream Park included Juvenile champion Hansen, a bullet five furlongs in 59; Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Stephanie’s Kitten, five-eighths in 58.80 on the turf; Hopeful winner Currency Swap, a half in 47, and multiple graded stakes winner Little Mike, five-eighths in 1:01.70 on the grass.