Racing News

Velazquez picks up mount on Union Rags

  • Union Rags will likely be forwardly placed in the Belmont (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

John Velazquez will replace Julien Leparoux aboard Union Rags in the $1 million Belmont Stakes.

"We felt we had to make a change," trainer Michael Matz told Daily Racing Form. "What happened before, in the last two races, it can happen to any one of them. He doesn't look like he's difficult to ride. He does have a big, long stride, and you need to let him use that stride."

Leparoux gained the mount when Javier Castellano opted to ride Algorithms, who was subsequently injured, in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes, guiding Union Rags to a four-length victory in his 2012 debut. But little went right for the Dixie Union colt in his next two outings, with Leparoux receiving plenty of criticism for his tactics following a less-than-ideal trip that resulted in a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby next out.

Bet down as the 5-1 second choice in the Kentucky Derby, Union Rags experienced a dreadful journey as he was squeezed at the start and shuffled toward the back of the pack during the early stages. He continued to be plagued by traffic woes during the race and wound up a disappointing seventh.

Owned by Phyllis Wyeth, Union Rags skipped the Preakness in order to focus upon the last leg of the Triple Crown. Four of the last six Belmont winners have won off a similar five-week freshening.

Matz said he will continue to use Leparoux on his horses in the future.

"He understands," Matz said. "There's a lot of money at stake. Whether it was his fault or the horse's fault, it just didn't work out."

Los Alamitos Futurity Added to 2014-15 'Road to the Kentucky Derby' Series

The $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (Grade I) has been added to the list of races that comprise the 2014-15 “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” The series of 35 select races – 19 “Prep Season” races and 16 “Championship Series” races – will determine which horses qualify to the 141st running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby.

Global View Nips Storming Inti at Wire to Win 23rd Running of Grade II American Turf

Glen Hill Farm's Global View caught Storming Inti in the closing strides

Midnight Lucky Romps in 28th Running of Grade I Humana Distaff

Midnight Lucky, making her first start in more than 11 months, took the lead out of the gate

Coffee Clique Catches Dame Marie Late to Win 29th Running of Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile

Coffee Clique squeezed through an opening along the hedge

California Chrome Wins America’s Greatest Race

164,906 fans pack historic Churchill Downs

Updates Powered by

Visit for expert handicapping, picks and analysis Derby Week and all year long

Derby Stories

Lindsay & Els Chicago, IL

First time at the Oaks so that's why we have these crazy hats on, shaped like cheese hats and painted pink in honor of Bright Pink, which is a great charity.
Paula's picking California Chrome

Kentucky Derby 140 presented by Yum! - The Race

Kentucky Derby 140 - Road to the Derby

Kentucky Derby 140 Intro

Around the Downs - The Stables

The Race

54 Photos


California Chrome is attempting to become only the fourth California-bred, Kentucky Derby winner in history and the first since Decidedly in 1962.