Union Rags Rallies Up The Rail to Win Belmont
Phyllis Wyeth’s Fountain of Youth (G1) winner Union Rags, who suffered through troubled trips in the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1), gamely drove up the rail under jockey John Velazquez to win the 144st Belmont Stakes by a neck over the pacesetter Paynter. Atigun finished third.
Union Rags, who wintered at Palm Meadows for trainer Michael Matz, covered the 1 ½ miles in 2:30.42. Union Rags becomes the 16th horse to run in the Florida Derby and go on and win the Belmont. He also becomes the 41st Florida Derby starter to win one of the three Triple Crown races.
“It’s incredible (to win this race for Michael Matz),” Velazquez said. “They liked this horse for so long, and for him to finally rise up to the top again, I’m very, very happy.”
Said Matz; “I’m just glad for Phyllis and the horse. We just got to see the real Union Rags.”
Horses competing and training at Gulfstream and Palm Meadows also did well on Belmont’s undercard.
• Tapitsfly, trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Ramon Dominguez, led gate-to-wire to win the $500,000 Longines Just A Game over Winter Memories. Tapitsfly won Gulfstream’s Honey Fox (G2) and was third in the Marshua’s River (G3). Winter Memories wintered at Palm Meadows.
• Trinniberg, an impressive winner Florida Derby Day of the Swale (G3) and later the Bay Shore (G3) at Aqueduct, led throughout to win the Woody Stephens (G3) over Currency Swap, who wintered at Gulfstream.
• The first three finishers in the $100,000 Easy Goer all raced at Gulfstream over the winter. Teeth of the Dog, who wintered at Palm Meadows and broke his maiden Feb. 4 at Gulfstream, won the $100,000 Easy Goer. The Michael Matz-trained 3-year-old won by 3 ¾ lengths over Fast Falcon, who raced at Gulfstream twice during the winter, and Politicallycorrect, who finished seventh in the Gulfstream Park Derby.
• Desert Blanc, who wintered at Palm Meadows for trainer Chad Brown, won the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap by a nose over Papaw Bodie, who wrapped up his 2011 season with a victory under allowance conditions at Gulfstream.