Friday 15 December 2017

Rags to chase more riches

Former Olympian Michael Matz. Photo: Getty Images
Former Olympian Michael Matz. Photo: Getty Images

FORMER Olympian Michael Matz is hoping his Union Rags will go on to land more big prizes after claiming Saturday night's Belmont Stakes.

Although the race was greatly diminished by the withdrawal of Triple Crown aspirant I'll Have Another, New York racegoers were still treated to a blockbuster finish.

Union Rags, ridden by John Velazquez, came fast and late in the $1m heat to deny Paynter by a short neck.

"We always thought this horse had Triple Crown potential," Matz said. "When we trained him, we gave him four races as two-year-old and gave him a rest and had a good plan.

"I do really think that this horse, when he has a clean trip and can show himself, is one of the best three-year-olds in this crop.

"Whether he could have done something against I'll Have Another, I don't know, but it sure would have been fun to see."

Matz is a remarkable man, having represented the USA at the 1976, '92 and '96 Olympics at show-jumping before turning his attention to racing.

In 1989 he survived an air crash that killed 111 people.

Now 61, the trainer even led three siblings to safety and went back into the burning plane to save an 11-month-old child.

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