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Saturday, March 3, 2012
On Union Rags


HALLANDALE, FL -- One week after the Fountain of Youth, I'm still really excited and happy with Union Rags. It's a great feeling to have this kind of horse, especially leading up to Kentucky Derby time.

Michael Matz didn't really tell me any detailed directions before the race, basically just break good, see where he puts you in the race, try to get a good spot and see what happens. He broke very sharp and put me into the race in a great position; he made it easy for me.

I really just sat on him pretty much all the way around there, got him out and asked him to make a move, and he did it very nice and easy -- as anyone who watched the race will tell you, he won very impressively. I didn't ever use my whip. I wish more horses ran like him; that would make my job a lot easier.

I knew he was going to run a good race, but it's always difficult to come back in the first start of the season and having time off in-between. So everybody was very excited and very happy with the race, just the way that he did it, how professional he was. He never drifted out in the stretch; he was perfectly straight -- he did it like an old horse, a seasoned professional.

On Twitter and Facebook it's two extremes now. On one had you have people saying he's the next Kentucky Derby or Triple Crown winner, and on the other hand you have people saying he didn't beat anybody in that race and he's not going to get the distance of the Derby. To me he's a very good horse. It's a long time between now and the Derby, so I hope everything goes good and he stays healthy, and if he does he's got a great chance. The distance will not be a problem at all, he galloped out very well.

I didn't have any big stakes mounts with 3-year-old implications this weekend. Next weekend I'll ride the Sam F. Davis stakes winner Battle Hardened in the Tampa Bay Derby for Eddie Keneally. I might ride the Sunland Derby this month -- and of course everything can change when my agent talks to trainers every morning. I'm looking forward to Keeneland starting April 6 as well.

I think there are a lot of very talented 3-year-olds in this year's crop. You have the usual guys with a lot of good ones -- Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen -- and then there are lots of people who maybe just have one that's really nice. Where jockeys are concerned regarding 3-year-olds, it's always very competitive. Everybody tries to get a horse for the Derby. Like I said, I'm scheduled to ride a few others, but I got lucky to get on Union Rags and he's the one I have right now that showed me the best so far. I want to go anywhere he goes -- at least, that's the plan!