Union Rags to skip Preakness

Trainer Michael Matz and owner/breeder Phyllis Wyeth announced May 9 that they have decided to forego the May 19 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course with Union Rags.

"It's a long year and I just don't think it's necessary to bring him back in two weeks if he doesn't have a chance at the Triple Crown," Matz told The Blood-Horse May 9.

While there is a chance the son of Dixie Union could be instead pointed to the June 9 Belmont Stakes, Matz was not ready to confirm whether that would definitely be the case.

Union Rags, who went off at odds of 5-1 in the Kentucky Derby, was bumped and squeezed at the start of the race by Kent Desormeaux on Dullahan on his outside and Calvin Borel on Take Charge Indy on his inside. After an eighth of a mile, the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes winner was a distant 18th.

Despite the bad start and getting caught in more traffic on the far turn, however, Union Rags finished a respectable seventh and came out of the race well. But the outcome was still bitterly disappointing for his connections.

"It was just a shame…it's one of those things that happens and there's nothing you can do about it," said Matz.

A day after the Derby, Union Rags was listed as an early probable contender for the Preakness. The colt ranked seventh on the list of top graded stakes earners leading into the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

The colt left Churchill Downs the evening of May 6 and arrived at his Fair Hill, Md., barn the morning of May 7. Matz reported Union Rags had galloped over the track May 9.

In addition to the Fountain of Youth, Union Rags won last year's Champagne and Three Chimneys Saratoga Special Stakes and finished second in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He entered the Kentucky Derby off a third in the Florida Derby behind Take Charge Indy.

Sporting a record of 4-1-1 from seven starts, Union Rags has earned $1,198,800.