Union Rags worked four furlongs in :47 2/5 at Keeneland on April 20.

Union Rags worked four furlongs in :47 2/5 at Keeneland on April 20.

Keeneland/Coady Photography

Union Rags Works Half-Mile at Keeneland

The 3-year-old Dixie Union colt went to track at just after 9 a.m.

Top Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender Union Rags  worked four furlongs in :47 2/5 just after 9 a.m. EDT at Keeneland on April 20.

The son of Dixie Union, owned by Phyliss Wyeth and trained by Michael Matz, worked alone, galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.

“I thought he went well,” Matz said “I just wanted a nice half-mile and he galloped out well. It was nothing spectacular but he went well.”
Matz said the colt will have a shorter tuneup before the Derby, either on April 28 or April 30. The weather will determine which day the colt breezes.

“He will have one more work (at Churchill Downs) and it will be a little more serious,” said Matz, who won the 2006 Derby with Barbaro. “We’re just trying to keep him maintained… We’ll ask more of him just before the Derby.”

With no one horse dominating the Derby prep races, Matz said he believes the 2012 crop of 3-year-olds is a strong, competitive group.

“It’s exciting when it’s a really competitive crop and I think the next several months of racing for the 3-year-olds should be pretty exciting,” Matz said. “If we all knew that one was going to win all the time, it would not be nearly so much fun. They’re all competitive.”

Union Rags comes into the Derby off a third-place finish in the Florida Derby (gr. I), beaten by 1 1/4 lengths with a less than ideal trip. Despite that loss, Matz said he would not trade places with any other trainer of a Derby contender this year.

Previous to the Florida Derby, Union Rags won the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (gr. II) in his first start since finishing second by a head to champion Hansen in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I).

“He’s lost two races by a total of a length and a half,” Matz said of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Florida Derby. “It’s cost him two grade Is, an Eclipse Award, and $1.2 million. If he wins the Kentucky Derby nobody will remember that. I like my horse. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”