Chris Brothers will be watching the Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park with great interest March 31. The morning line favorite, Union Rags , is a graduate of the IEAH Stables pinhooking program for which the Kentucky bloodstock agent is a key advisor.
Brothers spotted Union Rags at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale and recommended that IEAH purchase the bay colt. IEAH bought him for $145,000 from Paramount Sales, agent. The following year, Eddie Woods, agent for IEAH, sold Union Rags for $390,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training. In an interesting twist, Phyllis Wyeth, who had bred the colt and sold him through Paramount as a yearling, decided she wanted him back and purchased him as a juvenile in the name of Chadds Ford Stable.
“I remember he was much bigger than most of the other yearlings at Saratoga that year,” said Brothers of Union Rags. “He was a flashy horse and he had a good mind; he seemed very calm and very collected. He also had one of those walks that made your drool.”
But even though Brothers liked Union Rags a lot, he didn’t decide immediately that he was a horse that IEAH should buy.
“I had to look at him 10 times or so,” Brothers remembered. “I was thinking about how much I liked him, but he didn’t look like he was getting a lot of action, so I was second-guessing myself. I was thinking, ‘I am missing something obvious here.’ ”
Eventually, Brothers determined that Union Rags was a promising prospect no matter what anybody else thought.
“He was such a neat horse, and I was very surprised at the price we got him for,” Brothers said. “I think it might have been a tick over the reserve. The way the bidding was going, it just seemed like we were the only live bid at some point.”
Union Rags now ranks as the top 3-year-old on the Triple Crown Trail. Trained by Michael Matz for Wyeth, he has captured four of his five career races and finished second once while earning $1,098,800.
The son of Dixie Union and the Gone West mare Tempo captured the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) in his most recent outing Feb. 26. He also won last year’s Champagne (gr. I) and Three Chimneys Saratoga Special (gr.II) stakes. He was the runner-up in the 2011 Gray Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
“I’m tickled to death that Mrs. Wyeth owns Union Rags again,” Brothers said. “It would be nice if IEAH still owned him, but I think it’s a great story.”
Brothers, meanwhile, has been involved in the creation of another IEAH pinhooking star. Last year, at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale, he advised IEAH to acquire a Big Brown – Cool Ghoul colt from Hidden Brook, agent. This year, the $220,000 purchase was offered by IEAH, through Wavertree Stables, at the Fasig-Tipton Florida juvenile auction. The bay colt topped the sale, commanding $1.3 million from Demi O'Byrne March 26 at Palm Meadows Training Center near Boynton Beach, Fla.
“Chris has done an unbelievable job for us,” said IEAH president and director Michael Iavarone.