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Dec 16, 2011

Top two-year-old back in training


Hallandale Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Leading two-year-old Union Rags is being slowly brought back to training in time for the 2012 Triple Crown races. The colt, trained by Michael Matz. is back at Gulfstream Park to begin light workouts.

"We got on his back Saturday and just walked him for about a half hour. Starting on the 15th, he's going to be ridden every day," Matz said. "Then after the first of the year, we'll take him down to Palm Meadows to start some serious training."

Undefeated in his first three starts Union Rags, owned by breeder Phyllis Wyeth, lost by a head to Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on November 5. Since that race he was sent to a farm in Wellington, FL for some rest and relaxation.

"He's got a terrific disposition. He's a real smart horse. I had him in the paddock where he's away from other horses," Matz explained. "He was a little restless in the paddock, so we put him in a paddock right by the side of where the horses go to train. He loved it. He watched them all go by, and he just loved it."

With more than $800,000 already banked, Union Rags is the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Matz is looking to use Gulfstream's three-year-old stakes series to prepare for the Run for the Roses.

"I would say the logical schedule would be the Fountain of Youth (Feb. 26) and the Florida Derby (March 31)," Matz said. "He's here and we don't have to ship around. If something happens where we have a change of plans where we have to do something different, we're going to nominate him to just about everything."

Union Rags has Javier Castellano as his rider, winning the Saratoga Special and Champagne before the Breeders' Cup Juvenile loss.

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