May 5, 2012 |
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As the sun first popped over the trees at Churchill Downs on Friday, Union Rags galloped for the last time before Saturday's 138th Kentucky Derby. "I think he's in good form right now," trainer Michael Matz said a little later in the morning outside Barn 42, the same spot where Matz once stabled the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro. Of his latest Derby horse, the 9-2 second choice in the morning line, owned by Phyllis Wyeth of Chadds Ford, Matz said, "I think he's ready to run. . . . We've been a little bit harder on him since the Florida Derby, getting him peaked a little bit more.
May 20, 2011 |
BALTIMORE - At the Fair Hill Training Center, a pastoral horse-racing incubator just over the Pennsylvania border in northeast Maryland, the barns and stables run by Graham Motion, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, are at one end of the complex and those of trainer Michael Matz are at the other. They are friends cut from the same saddlecloth; honest, clean trainers with horsemanship experience spread across the spectrum of racing. Their backgrounds are a mixture of training soundly for grass and dirt, for everything from steeplechase to Olympic equestrian events, for giving the same careful attention to a maiden claimer as to a stakes horse.
May 8, 2012 |
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It was shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday, barely 12 hours after a Kentucky Derby that had been 6 months in the planning went very wrong in less than a second. Michael Matz was walking a horse named Welcome Dance around the Barn 42 shedrow, passing a sedate Union Rags, peering out from his stall. As he rounded the corner, Matz called back over his shoulder: "We did everything we wanted except the last 2 minutes and that was the part we couldn't help. " In horse racing, you can be prepared, organized and make rational decisions.
May 15, 2009 |
Nicanor suddenly has more in common with his older brother, Barbaro: a dominating win. Nicanor broke his maiden in a romp, a 15 1/4-length victory on the turf at Delaware Park - the same track where Barbaro won his first career race. A day after the win, co-owner Gretchen Jackson was relieved Barbaro's baby brother was finally able to bust into the winner's circle. "One of my thoughts was, he better do it this time," Jackson said yesterday. "He'd been so close. The result was very pleasing.
May 10, 2006 |
Beneath the towering oaks shading Delaware Park's beautiful paddock, an unofficial reunion of recent Triple Crown stars took place before yesterday's eighth race. Michael Matz, still aglow after sending out Barbaro to his powerful Kentucky Derby victory on Saturday, was present to saddle When the Saints for Fitz Eugene Dixon. Ramon Dominguez, who finished second in the Derby with Bluegrass Cat, was given a leg up on Magic Mountain by Mike Trombetta, whose 5-1 Derby favorite Sweetnorthernsaint finished seventh after a troubled trip.
June 23, 1997 |
As Beezie Patton tells it, she's been knocking on the door for a while aboard Imaginario. Last month, the show-jumping rider was fifth in the Grand Prix of Devon, and she has placed well in most of the classes in which she's ridden the fiery 9-year-old Argentinian-bred. Yesterday, though, Patton and Imaginario won their first major class, in one of the most important grand prix competitions in the country, the $100,000 Rolex/USET Show Jumping Championship. Patton, of Cazenovia, N.Y., believes Imaginario is one of her most talented horses in the 12 years she's been riding on the grand prix circuit.
June 3, 1996 |
After leading throughout the U.S. Equestrian Team's selection process, Michael Matz was in a tough spot during yesterday's Olympic trials at the Devon showgrounds. Rhum IV, Matz's mount, had two rails down for eight faults in the first trial. He could not afford another four-fault penalty in the second round and stay on top. Matz said afterward he wasn't sure why Rhum IV faulted twice in the first round. But he was elated by what happened his second time around the Linda Allen-designed course.
November 3, 2006 |
Just as he had once before, trainer Michael Matz will watch jockey Edgar Prado get on one of his horses tomorrow in a $2 million race at Churchill Downs. It is the site of their greatest collective triumph, Barbaro's Kentucky Derby victory. Tomorrow, Round Pond, owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farms, will have her own big moment, the Breeders' Cup Distaff. "I've got to find a way to make seven lengths up," Matz said yesterday. In her last start, Round Pond finished third, those seven lengths back, in the Grade I Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct . 7. The top two finishers, Fleet Indian and Balletto, are both here.
May 4, 2012 |
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Derby post-position draw has become like waiting to console the victim of an accident that everybody knows is sure to come. You don't want the No. 1 post because that horse has to take a slight right turn just to get on the course and then has every chance of getting squeezed by the chain reaction that can be caused by 19 other horses fighting for position in the first 500 yards. The 1 post was still unclaimed when Union Rags got No. 4 Wednesday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
March 31, 2012 |
By sunset on Saturday, the Union Rags story will include another important chapter. If this colt, trained by Michael Matz of Barbaro fame and owned by Chadds Ford's Phyllis Wyeth, wins the $1 million Florida Derby impressively, Union Rags won't just be the Kentucky Derby favorite - he already has that claim - but the buzz will grow that maybe this is the year for a Triple Crown horse. It might seem unfair, even crazy, to put that kind of label on a 3-year-old, given the difficulties of the Triple Crown path, but it's a common early-spring fever, and Union Rags picks up believers with every stride, including during workouts.