Union Rags likely for Belmont Stakes; Alpha also possible

Story by: NYRA Press Office

Source: NYRA.com

Union Rags, who finished seventh as the second choice in the Kentucky Derby after an eventful trip, will likely make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9, said trainer Michael Matz. The winner of Belmont’s Grade 1 Champagne last fall, Union Rags returned to the track at the Fair Hill Training Center on Thursday.

“He came out of the race fine,” said Matz. “He’s been galloping the past two days. We won’t know for certain for a couple of weeks, but I would imagine if everything goes fine, we’ll look for the Belmont.”

The Derby marked the first time in seven starts that the Chadds Ford Stable color-bearer finished off the board. Union Rags, who also counts the Grade 2 Three Chimneys Saratoga Special and the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park among his victories, was second in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

Alpha, 12th in the Kentucky Derby, returned to the track at Belmont Park this morning and is under consideration for the Belmont Stakes, said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

“He’s sound, he’s happy, no problems – he came out of the Derby great,” said Magnuson of Alpha, who won the Aqueduct’s Count Fleet and Grade 3 Withers and finished second in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino new York City Wood Memorial prior to the Derby. “There’s no pressure or anything. If he’s fine and doing well, we’d look at the Belmont. It’s something Simon Crisford [Godolphin racing manager] has mentioned. It’s definitely a possibility.”

Magnuson added that multiple Grade 1 winner It’s Tricky, 2-for-2 this year with victories in the Grade 2 Distaff and the Grade 2 Top Flight at Aqueduct, would work either Sunday or Monday. The 4-year-old Godolphin filly is scheduled to make her next start in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28.