Updated on 07/23/2012 9:50AM

Union Rags officially retired, will stand at stud in 2013

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Barbara D. Livingston
Union Rags was diagnosed with a suspensory injury a month after he won the Belmont Stakes.

Union Rags has been retired from racing because of the suspensory injury that was diagnosed a month after the colt won the June 9 Belmont Stakes.

Russell Jones, a longtime racing manager and adviser for owner Phyllis Wyeth, confirmed that Union Rags has made his final start and will begin his stud career in 2013 at a farm yet to be determined.

The announcement was not totally unexpected, because even though the soft-tissue injury was not necessarily career-ending, it would have required a significant amount of time from which to recover, with no guarantee that Union Rags would return to his best form. A small lesion of the high suspensory ligament in the colt’s left foreleg was diagnosed days after he went through his final workout on July 6 at his home base, the Fair Hill training center.

Jones said Wyeth had sent out an e-mail Friday to several major Kentucky farms alerting them that Union Rags was officially retired and that she would be soliciting stud offers.

Union Rags, by Dixie Union, was bred in Kentucky by Wyeth, sold for $145,000 as a yearling, then was bought back by Wyeth for $390,000 at a 2-year-old sale.

Trained throughout his career by Michael Matz, Union Rags won 5 of 8 starts for earnings of $1,798,800. He made his first start last July by winning a maiden race at Delaware Park, then captured the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and Grade 1 Champagne to go postward as the 11-10 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, a race he lost by a head to Hansen. That narrow defeat cost him the 2-year-old Eclipse Award, which went to Hansen.

Union Rags started his push toward the Kentucky Derby by winning the Fountain of Youth by four lengths, then was third as the 2-5 favorite in the Florida Derby. Sent away the 5-1 second choice in the 138th Kentucky Derby, he encountered major traffic problems throughout, finishing seventh while never threatening. After skipping the Preakness, he redeemed himself when surging up the rail under John Velazquez to defeat Paynter by a head in a dramatic 144th running of the Belmont.

The retirement of Union Rags means that no winners of a 2012 Triple Crown event are still active. I’ll Have Another, winner of the Derby and Preakness, was retired on the eve of the Belmont because of a tendon injury.

– additional reporting by David Grening