Trainer Michael Matz said that Union Rags will work either tomorrow or Friday at Fair Hill training center in preparation for the Belmont Stakes (G1).
Matz also announced that Union Rags will have a new jockey in John Velazquez.
“He’s doing very well,” said Matz during a Wednesday teleconference. “He might work tomorrow, maybe Friday. Mrs. [Phyllis] Wyeth is on her way back from Maine, and if she wants to see him work we’ll do it tomorrow or Friday. We’re hoping John Velazquez will work him in his last work [the following weekend].”
Union Rags was 3-1-0 from four starts as a 2-year-old, including a score in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont, and won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth by four imposing lengths in his 2012 debut. After he ran into traffic problems in both the Grade 1 Florida Derby, in which he was third, and the Kentucky Derby, in which he was seventh, Velazquez was named aboard the Dixie Union colt.
“It’s been frustrating, I don’t think in either of his last two races he got a chance to really run,” said Matz of Union Rags. “I just hope he gets a clean trip. Whether he’s good enough to beat [I’ll Have Another], I don’t know. I just want him to get a clean trip and show what he can do.
“I wouldn’t be going in [the Belmont] if I didn’t think he could beat I’ll Have Another,” he added. “He’s a big horse, and once he gets into a nice rhythm…that’s why we went with John Velazquez. He knows New York.”
Matz said travel plans for Union Rags were still undetermined.
–NYRA Press contributed to this report.
Union Rags/Reed Palmer photo