Early Kentucky Derby favorite Union Rags breezed Saturday morning at Palm Meadows in preparation for next Saturday’s Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
The Fountain of Youth (G2) victor breezed a half-mile in company in 49.10 for trainer Michael Matz. The 3-year-old son of Dixie Union was ridden in the work by assistant trainer/exercise rider Peter Brette.
“He did it the right way,” Matz told Gulfstream Park Publicity. “He went out with a set that worked, and Peter just sat behind them. I just wanted to have something for him to point at. The other two horses worked nicely and he worked nice and galloped out really well.”
Chadds Ford Stable’s star made his 2012 debut on Feb. 26 in the Fountain of Youth, in which he finished four lengths clear of the field while in hand under jockey Julien Leparoux.
“I think he should take a step forward from that. It didn’t look like he had to give everything he had,” Matz said. “I would hope that having a race under his belt would help him for the Florida Derby.”
Another Florida Derby contender, Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s 3-year-old Take Charge Indy, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows for trainer Pat Byrne in his final tune-up for the Florida Derby.
“It was a good maintenance work,” said Byrne. “He’s ready to go. It looks like the best (Kentucky) prep of the year. We know it will be a tough race. Union Rags is a very good horse. I’m actually a little surprised they’ve got six horses likely to run against him.”
Meanwhile, at Gulfstream, News Pending stretched his legs in a five-furlong breeze. The Fountain of Youth runner-up to Union Rags was timed in 1:02.90 in preparation for the Florida Derby.
Union Rags/Coglianese photo