by Claire Novak and Steve Haskin
Owner Phyllis Wyeth has decided to retire Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Union Rags , her adviser Russell Jones said July 20.
"I spoke to Phyllis about two hours ago," Jones said. "She discussed it with Jamie (her husband) and it was all about the risk factor. This was a time to make the tough decision. The horse is very much in the limelight as far as breeders go at this moment, and they felt like it would be a challenge and a risk to be back in this position next year."
The 3-year-old son of Dixie Union was sidelined for the rest of the year after a small lesion in the middle of the suspensory of his left front leg. The injury was detected last week as he was training for a start in the July 29 Haskell Invitational (gr.I). Jones said the owner was searching for a stud deal.
"There was a lot of risk involved because if they did not get him back to where he is now, it would be at a significant cost," said Jones. "This is all I was told."
Trainer Michael Matz was looking forward to Union Rags' return to the races. He declined to comment on the situation other than to refer all questions to Jones, stating he hadn't been told anything other than retirement was being considered.
Bred in Kentucky, Union Rags is out of the Gone West mare Tempo. He won the Three Chimneys Saratoga Special (gr. II) and Champagne Stakes (gr. I) last year and finished second by a head to Hansen in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
This year, he captured the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) in addition to the Belmont Stakes, finished third in the Florida Derby (gr. I), and was a troubled seventh in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). He won five of eight races in his career while earning $1,798,800.