Updated on 07/23/2012 10:50AM

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

BIG HUG More than 1 year ago
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.
Linda Mitchell-Bender More than 1 year ago
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.
buff More than 1 year ago
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.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
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.
jg777 More than 1 year ago
where is chad mcidiot when you need him........ horse is and always has been a sham
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
If you mean me AKA whoever you are... I am right here and I still love Rags even though he is injured. Don't take your BIG mare to him you phony.
Jon More than 1 year ago
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.
Linda Mitchell-Bender More than 1 year ago
The best thing to do is for the Industry to change and not have any 2 yr. old races. They need to start as 3 yr.old and have the Derby's for 4 yr. olds. This would give the babies time to mature before they start pounding on them. I can just dream on cause this will never happen, the Industry will never change. How many TB's do you think die from accidents in the breeding shed, but the TB industry unlike the Quarter Horse people will never allow artificial incemination. (sp) Too old to change!
Jon More than 1 year ago
Today they will say 3 YO tomorrow they will say 5 YO. The reality is they changed it form June /July to April/May. It’s the problem of the advisor's of the owners who only have only one thing on mind and that is money (just to keep their job) even if it means a difference of a few hundred bucks.
BIG HUG More than 1 year ago
I agree. The owners and trainers are insensitive to the horse's needs. They are "only horses", forced to run their hearts out for money and a quick return on the investment. Most of them can't buy yearlings and send them to a farm to mature another year, like friends of mine did. It paid off. They won money, retired the horse at 4 1/2 sound and healthy. He is now 15, and loves to go trail riding and lives in a large pasture with other horses. The horse looks great, he thinks he's only 5.
Chris Szabo More than 1 year ago
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.
Tyler Mathis More than 1 year ago
That's always been the case. The bread-and-butter races are where handicappers mke their money. The old schoolers like Ainesly and Taulbot knew this, and advised their readers to never bet on stakes races, for the level of competition is too keen and it's practically impossible to legimately pick a winner. They also scoffed at "lottery bets" such as the pick three through six. Right again, they're the biggest scams in racing, and thus pushed the hardest by the tracks, TVG, and HRTV. Think about it...your betting at least one horse sight unseen, possibly five. Fool's money, stakes and lotteries both. Much more fun and profitable to just pick winners at the lower level, where they really stand out and often at a price...
Tyler Mathis More than 1 year ago
Sorry, made a mistake above. You're betting a hell of a lot more horses sight unseen than five playing the pick 6, over 10 perhaps, maybe a dozen. Feelin' lucky? Keep track of how many pick 4+ tickets the TVG crew gets right. Not many, and some of them are actually decent handicappers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. You are so stupid. Read up on how the parimutuel system works. Tracks don't care who wins except in cases of $2.10 minimum payouts (negative pools usually show)...why am I wasting my time on this. YOU ARE STUPID! DUMBEST POST EVER.
Flint King More than 1 year ago
Amen
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
you are delusional if you believe what you just wrote. fyi I know how the parimutuel system works. i also know how greed works in a closed circuit system. let me ask you a question: have you ever personally watched at a track "management room" as the payouts are calculated and displayed ? have you EVER personally seen the total number of winning tickets there are in any race to determine the payouts prices which are seen on the tote? Unless you can answer yes to both questions, then you sir are delusional and a fool for believing that track officials - being in COMPLETE CONTROL of the payout tote system - would just be completely honest with all this money. idiots like you are just what the tracks want: focus on the parimutuel system and the track "takeout", meanwhile the track gouges out "principal money" from the pools for themselves.... now go back to your mommy and ask her there are monsters under your bed. u freakin moron !
Mark More than 1 year ago
I've read plenty of stupid postings from plenty of stupid people but "Anonymous" you take the cake for the biggest idiot ever. If I said the things you said, I would post under Anonymous as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mark you are obviously a small player. a follower. a person without much insight and without any capacity to think.... There has been money and payout corruption in horse racing for decades. it exists and if you keep believing that horse tracks "dont care who wins" races, exotic pools, etc. then you will continue to blindly give them your money... Now THAT is stupid. - TRW
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
Both you 2 'anonymous' guys need to change your names. this is insane. nobody ever knows which one is speaking. for all we know there may be 3 or 4 of you. or we could ALL become 'anonymous'. would you like that ?
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
Union Rags is a Loooooooooooooooooooooooser.
Mark More than 1 year ago
I would love to own a looser that made almost 2 million and will sell for a few million more...
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
Loooooooooser AND overrated. You wouldn't understand, but the horse was mostly an UNDERLAY in his races. The maiden win doesn't count because who knew? Why would someone want to take that horse on Derby day at those odds. All these so-called top handicappers were all dreaming if you think the horse had a chance. If you want to bet underlays and then call those horses great, by all means do so. I certainly can use a third game room in my home!
Mark More than 1 year ago
he wasn't an underlay in the five starts that he won, because obviously the betting public had those races down pretty good.. I don't see how you can say that about Union Rags and not horses like Hansen etc... I don't think Hansen has ever run a beer over 92, but i am not sure what his beyer was for his last win... I wouldn't have bet him with your money in the derby or preakness or belmont! The fact remains is that they are nice animals that are obviously very capable of winning graded stake races....
Mark More than 1 year ago
I meant beyer not beer... Damn technology trying to type for me.
Olivia More than 1 year ago
5 wins in 8 starts ranging from 5.5 furlongs to 1 1/2, Never passed in the stretch. What would you consider a winner? You must really have high standards for an idiot! Go post somewhere else. Moooooorrrroooooonnnnnn!!!!
steve szymanski More than 1 year ago
No. I just do this for a living. The horse was totally over-rated. His 95 Beyers would have made a nice overnight stakes horse for those $75k races!!! HE HAD TO BE RETIRED. My God - DO YOU NOT GET IT? The horse NEVER RAN FAST. If you win the BELMONT and then keep up with those slow races, his breeding money would be zilch. All-in-all: Loooooooser. Sorry - OVERRATED LOSER
Olivia More than 1 year ago
Maybe you should find another line of work. You make it sound like his connections were hoping for an injury.. Enough with the Beyers too, numbers don't tell all. Do they account for troubled trips or horses not going all out? No!!! You can't convince me any horse in Kentucky Derby field could have overcame UR trip, including Ill have Another. I know a lot of people who claim to do for living. You sound like a numbers guy, just go play the favorite and see where that gets you.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Steve, He's an injured horse for chrissakes. Grow up and keep the politics out of these deals.. SHeeeeeez.