Michael Matz, trainer of Union Rags, will have a familiar foe on Saturday.
“He’s never run against Todd’s horse, El Padrino. I think he’s an awfully nice horse,” Matz said. “Actually, I tried to get somebody to buy him as a yearling. They never returned my phone call. I think he’s quite a nice horse.”
Union Rags will break from post 6 under Julien Leparoux. “I don’t think (that post) makes any difference. It’s fine. Last time he started from seven, so six shouldn’t be a problem, unless they starting bumping around, but he’s a big horse," Matz said.
In one of those twists of fate that racing presents at times, Javier Castellano, who was Union Rags' regular rider last year, will seek to remain undefeated in his third race aboard El Padrino. Castellano chose to stay with Algorithms earlier this year, forcing Matz to find a new rider. Algorithms is now off the Derby Trail, recuperating from an injury. Castellano and El Padrino will exit post 8.
“I’m very comfortable with the post,” Castellano said. “I’d rather have Union Rags inside me than outside me.”
Kevin Scatuorchio, who owns manages El Padrino's owner Let's Go Stable, is the son of James Scatuorchio, who owned 2007 Florida Derby winner Scat Daddy. He acknowledged El Padrino's challenge.
“Union Rags is considered by many to be the best 3-year-old in the country, and rightly so. He’s obviously a very talented horse. But I think after our race in the Risen Star, it gave us the opportunity to be flexible with our schedule,” he said. S“We’re confident in our horse and feel like we are in the position not to dodge anyone.”
--Edited Gulfstream Park release