01/24/2012 6:08PM

Union Rags has sharp work prepping for Fountain of Youth

Barbara D. Livingston
Union Rags continues his preparation at the Palm Meadows training center.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - While Union Rags won't be participating in Gulfstream Park's first graded stakes for 3-year-olds this year, he took another step Tuesday morning to being ready to go for the second.

Union Rags, the Grade 1 Champagne winner and Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up, worked five furlongs in 1:00.82 over the main track at Palm Meadows Tuesday morning. It was the second-fastest of 28 recorded works at the distance on a warm, cloudy, and sometimes rainy morning.

Over a fast track, the move was actually conducted from the half-mile to a furlong past the wire. With exercise rider Peter Brette up, Union Rags went his first eighth in 12.28 seconds, the quarter in 24.22, and went from the quarter pole to the wire in 24.11 seconds.

It was the third work for Union Rags since returning to trainer Michael Matz's Palm Meadows barn earlier this month. He had been in light training on a farm in Florida since shortly after his runner-up finish to Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

While Hansen recently crowned 2-year-old champion is set to make his debut in Sunday's $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Union Rags will await the $400,000 Fountain of Youth on Feb. 26 for his 3-year-old debut.

"We're on line to run in the Fountain of Youth," Matz said. "He'll start working in company next week. I think the progression is kind of where I want it right now."

Union Rags did get a little hot on the track, but Matz said that's normal for this colt.
"He always sweats, he's a big sweater," Matz said. "That's been him from the start. But he has a good disposition."

Matz said that the filly Somali Lemonade, who last year won the Grade 3 Jessamine at Keeneland before finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, began galloping at Palm Meadows on Monday. Matz hopes to get a race into her before the end of the meet.

And Why Not, runner-up to On Fire Baby in the Pocahontas at Churchill last November, also started galloping and could run before the meet ends in early April.