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Feb 23, 2012

Union Rags debuts in Fountain of Youth


Hallandale Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Early Kentucky Derby favorite Union Rags heads the field for Sunday's $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The 1 1/16-mile stakes has attracted eight three-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail.

Owned by Chadds Ford Stable, Union Rags makes his 2012 debut in the race and will start from post seven with Julien Leparoux riding him for the first time. The colt is using the Fountain of Youth as a prep for the Florida Derby on March 31.

"He's going to be running against horses that have been racing and he hasn't raced since November," trainer Michael Matz said after a recent workout. "He's a big, quiet horse, so I thought a little reminder wouldn't hurt."

The colt, who was 7-1 in the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager this month, won his first three starts last year before losing by a head as the 11-10 favorite to Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He then finished second to Hansen in the voting for 2011 champion two-year-old. Union Rags has earned $858,000.

However, even with those credentials, Gulfstream Park morning-line oddsmaker Chuck Streva made Union Rags the 2-1 second pick behind 8-5 morning-line favorite Algorithms.

"The reason I went with Algorithms was because he has a start over the track and Union Rags is making his first start of the year," Streva explained. "Basically, that's the reason I leaned the way I did."

Holy Bull Stakes winner Algorithms, trained by Todd Pletcher, will be ridden by Javier Castellano from post two. Castellano had been the regular jockey for Union Rags.

Owned by Starlight Racing, Algorithms came out of the initial Future Wager at 12-1, third behind the 3-2 mutuel field and Union Rags. The colt has earned $301,500 while winning all three career starts. The Holy Bull victory was worth $240,000.

Pletcher also has Discreet Dancer in the Fountain of Youth for owner Paul Robsham. Perfect in two career starts, the chestnut colt will break from post five with John Velazquez subbing for Castellano and is the 3-1 third choice.

"You can never have enough good three-year-olds, but you hate to run them against each other," Pletcher noted earlier. "Now we have Discreet Dancer and this colt (Algorithms) that are two-for-two over the track. He's (Algorithms) by Bernardini and I don't think he'll have distance limitations. So we just have to sort things out from here."

From the rail out here is the complete field: Neck 'n Neck, Jose Lezcano, 15-1; Algorithms, Javier Castellano, 8-5; Fort Loudon, Rajiv Maragh, 20-1; Casual Trick, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; Discreet Dancer, John Velazquez, 3-1; News Pending, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1; Union Rags, Julien Leparoux, 2-1 and Csaba, Paco Lopez, 20-1.

The Fountain of Youth will go off at 5:15 p.m. (et) on Sunday.

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