07/06/2012 2:15PM

Union Rags works five furlongs as Matz points him to Haskell

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Tom Keyser
Union Rags is on target for the Haskell but his rider, John Velazquez, is sidelined by a broken collarbone.

Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 Friday morning at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland and barring an unforeseen change of heart, he will make his next start in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 29, trainer Michael Matz said.

Matz said the Haskell and the $1 million Travers on Aug. 25 at Saratoga – the last two Grade 1 dirt route races in the division – are the next two objectives for Union Rags as he attempts to unseat retired Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another from his throne atop the 3-year-old division.

“Those are the races you sort of have to do unless you’re willing to concede [a championship], and I’m not ready to do that yet,” said Matz, who trains Union Rags for owner Phyllis Wyeth.

By running in the Haskell, Union Rags will be facing Bodemeister, who finished second to I’ll Have Another in both the Derby and Preakness after setting the pace in both races.

“I think he’s going to have more [pace] pressure on him going a mile and an eighth than he is going a mile and a quarter,” Matz said. “If [Union Rags] is good enough, he’s good enough; if he’s not good enough, he’s not good enough.”

On Friday, Union Rags worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 by himself under exercise rider Peter Brette.

“He went real nice,” Matz said. “Galloped out in [1:13], did it real easy. He came back, went into the paddock and had a roll. He’s real low key.”

Matz said he has not made plans to replace injured jockey John Velazquez for the Haskell. Velazquez, who suffered a fractured collarbone in a spill at Churchill on June 16, is hoping to be back in the saddle by Haskell Day, and Matz said Friday he will wait to see if he is ready to ride by then.

“It’s only fair to see how Johnny feels,” Matz said. “He knows he’s not going to lose the mount. If we get somebody else, it would be for the one race.”

One potential replacement could be Joel Rosario, who has ridden the Matz-trained Teeth of the Dog to a pair of stakes victories, including the Grade 2 Dwyer last weekend at Belmont. Matz said Teeth of the Dog would make his next start in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby on Aug. 4 at Mountaineer. Matz said since Teeth of the Dog ran three times in six weeks, he would benefit from having an extra week as opposed to running in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 28.

Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
I cant wait for Bodegreatness to run against Mucho Macho Man. Talk about getting your legs run off. And I don't mean Bodegreatness running MMM'S legs off either. Ready made cash register. Ca ching.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
I'm not saying IHA isn't a great colt. I.m saying he beat a field of colts who as of now have turned out to be mediocre. Bode was inexperienced and ran out of gas. Union Rags got wiped out in the Derby and redeemed himself in the belmont. So with the early retirement of IHA due to injury and the progression of rags and bode, i still believe the ecleipse is up in the air. These two colts have room to improve. It's not fair to them to crown IHA the champ under the circumstances. Politically for the integrity of the derby this may be a forgone conclusion, but it's not an objective one. We have yet to see the best of these two colts. IHA is retired because he didn't withstand the challenges of the triple crown. True, neither did rags or bode.. but they are still around to fight out the rest of the year.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Bode worked in 101 this morning, right on schedule. Is it true Baffert's bringing that girl rider?
Paul Patane More than 1 year ago
Id like to see Chad Brown enter his piece who was #1 in the Belmont Stakes, ran off board. Cant remember his name, but is a deep closer.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Street Sense?
Francisco Diaz More than 1 year ago
Or is it Street Life ?
Alex More than 1 year ago
Street Life. Finished 4th, I believe.
Paul Patane More than 1 year ago
With Union taking the Haskell Route, the Jim Dandy will be very wide open. I figured TeethDog would of been a perfect candidate for the Dandy. Its very early for Jim Dandy talk, but wow, its gonna be wide open.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
So folks that stand so strongly by the slow Union Rags, please tell me what happens when Bodemeister runs UR off of his feet?
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
I lose if that happens. Wont be 1st or last time.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
See Mark, A chance to learn from Sam... Not the end of the world, right? On the other hand I can't find anyone to make a friendly little wager and I love Rags.
Sean Ali More than 1 year ago
They take it to the track and settle it there. Races are not run on paper.
thomas j More than 1 year ago
There's no reason to make negative comments about these horses. It sounds like there are a lot of people on this blog who have been around gambling so long they have become a bunch of sour-pusses. At least look forward to enjoying watching the race.
Jerry Sabo More than 1 year ago
I agree Thomas, they are more concerned about the money they can make instead of watching a potential great race between a group of good horses.
AndrewD More than 1 year ago
Union Rags is 0-1 against Bodemeister. After the Haskell, he will be 0-2, but please bet the plodder.
MaryAnn Donahue More than 1 year ago
To call a multiple Grade 1 winner a plodder is not a logical statement. Union Rags is a classy great looking colt who has won some good races. Time will tell how much more he will accomplish. He has captured a loyal following and that is a good thing for racing.
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
I am done with all the Hype reguarding Union Rags ( ECLIPES ) ! It will not matter if Union Rags ( Wins ) at Monmouth Park - ( Wins ) at Saratoga - ( Wins ) at Santa Anita ! MY POINT IS : ( Bodemeister ) was Not good enough ( Either Time ) to Defeat ( ILL Have Another ) ............. so by Union Rags defeating Bodemeister would tell you what then : Go ahead and get your hopes up : I AM ONLY TELLING IT LIKE IT IS - while the media / analysis / sports writters / and press are trying to add fuel to the fire that has already gotten out of control . TRUST ME : like in the Belmont Stakes : just enjoy the remaining matches that Union Rags will face , and have a good time with it . Union Rags : is truly the real - deal in my opinion : but it would be so ( UNFAIR ) to give anyone else the ECLIPES when ( The Champion ) got beat in the Derby - ( The 2nd Contender ) got beat in the Derby : THEN - ILL Have Another took the title over in the Derby . ( Again The Top Leading Contender ) still could not put the ( New Title Champ Down ) . So how many Excuses does a person have to have to make a case ! THE 2012 ECLIPES WINNER WILL BE ( ILL Have Another ) !
mrm More than 1 year ago
I'm betting $100,000 to win on UR.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
I would think a little deeper into that pop.
mrm More than 1 year ago
You're right. $10 across the board
Jim More than 1 year ago
Bloggers now comparing Bodemeister to Alydar!?!?!!? Alyadar had NINE wins, FIVE G1 wins before derby! Bodemeister has TWO, a MAIDEN and AK derby, out of SIX starts So please put the 'anointing oil' away, and to say he lost to a 'would b triple crown winner', is even more silly. He lost 4 out of 6. And IHA didn't win triple crown, so stop. BODEMEISTER = poor man's MENIFEE. (And that is a stretch right now too)