Union Rags (Dixie Union x Tempo by Gone West), seventh in the Kentucky Derby, will try to stop I’ll Have Another in the Belmont Stakes on June 9. The Michael Matz pupil was second betting choice in the Derby and will have plenty of support racing at Big Sandy. So much support, that he is likely to be a significant underlay when comparing his win odds to his true chance of winning the race. I did not like his chances in the Derby and I continue to hold a bearish stance.
The biggest factor working against Union Rags in the Belmont Stakes is his pedigree. Sire Dixie Union saw his best win come in the nine furlong Haskell Invitational. He was ineffective going any further than that as proved by a fourth place effort in the ten furlong Travers Stakes. His progeny are quite similar to him in that regard as he has yet to produce a top stakes winner going the classic distance. Broodmare sire Gone West was one of the most prolific in modern times, but his best dirt progeny were sprinter and miler types.
Union Rags is unlikely to stay the 12 furlongs distance of the Test of Champions. We must consider his lackluster efforts in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby and the fact that he was all over the track in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Longer distances have been the cause of a lot of his troubles.
The second big thing working against the over hyped Union Rags is the fact that he just isn’t that fast. He was a precocious juvenile, but hasn’t improved as a sophomore. His best speed figure to this date is 95, which if reproduced, would not get him in the Belmont Stakes exacta, let alone the winner’s circle.
It’s not all bad though. A rider switch to John Velazquez, 2007 Belmont Stakes winning jockey aboard Rags To Riches, could shake him up. Also, his best career win came at Belmont Park where he crushed the competition in the Champagne Stakes.
If Union Rags was a long shot then I might be willing to forgive some of his faults, but as the projected second choice it is hard for me to get in his corner. Betting horses is all about getting bang for your buck and Union Rags gives little to no value in the Belmont Stakes.