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Updated on 07/23/2012 10:50AM
Union Rags officially retired, will stand at stud in 2013
By Marty McGee
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
Union Rags could hardly walk back to the winner's circle. He looked like he was going to pass out, dragged his feet, especially the front ones. I'm surprised he didn't faint on the track. Then, a month later they discovered a suspensory problem. Imagine that.. I was offered a breeding to a KY. Derby winner for my mare this season. What a deal, but I turned it down. I couldn't stand the thought of sending the colt to some trainer who will destroy it.
We keep breeding weakness into the TB lineage. They get injured then retire to stud and the weakness is passed on thru the breeding shed. I would much rather bred to a hard knocking horse who retired sound after a successful career on the track to a good bred mare with the same kind of strength behind her. We need to bred more soundness into the breed. The way it is now we are breeding weekness into weekness and getting weekness.
He's too young to go to stud. Gotta prove yourself on the track first. That's all these owners think about is stud fees. He could have come back from that injury but the stud fees loom ever so large. These types of owners are killing racing.
So the TC winners never faced older horses...were injured and retired....would think twice about paying a stud fee to fragile animals unproven against older. As a bettor just makes me lose interest...can't remember the last year I skipped a chance to wager on a TC race.
where is chad mcidiot when you need him........ horse is and always has been a sham
And they say what is wrong with the racing industry. This here is a very good example of what is happening that is destroying the racing industry. A horse wins a big race while very young & all advisers (have to be people who are interested in only one thing & that are money) always look to the slightest excuse of retiring the horse. This did not happen that very often decades ago when young horses winning these same kinds of races and was eligible to make big money comparatively, but, they did not retire those horses. People who do this are just destroying the racing industry as they do not give a damn about anything but money. Maybe the best thing to do is increase the purses of 4 year old and up horses or give big incentives for horses returning as 4 year olds and lower the 3 year old purses. Also the breeders are responsible for this and should not pay much to 3 or 4 year old stallions and pay more for 5 year old stallions. Same things for breeders who should choose proven stallions for mating & not encourage unproven stallions.
As the list of prominent horses either euthanized or retired because of injury continues to grow, it seems more and more logical to forget about following the "big name" horses and bigger events, because the result is inevitably some sort of letdown. Better off following the daily fare of horse racing - the maiden races, the claimers, allowance races, and minor stakes. That way instead of bemoaning the loss of another star/superstar, or seeing one flop (Big Brown), one can focus on what really makes the sport enjoyable and focus on handicapping.
I think of Jack Klugman's character sports writer Oscar Madison. In his messed up bedroom the pictures on the wall, horse racing and boxing. The early 70's Secretariat & Ali. Both sports were once front page news.
track officials play a role in these horses being retired. they dont WANT bettors to see too much of what a horse can do. otherwise the bettors have an advantage in handicapping the bigger money races. So tracks encourage - with money of course - some horse owners to retire their big name horses. it is not just the owners who decide to retire their horses, it's the racing organizations who "influence" those decisions...
Union Rags is a Loooooooooooooooooooooooser.
- 1.Posted 05/23/2013 08:40AM
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- 5.Posted 05/23/2013 11:31AM