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Union Rags: A Tale of Love

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

Union Rags is most known for his thrilling win in the 2012 Belmont Stakes. His story, however, goes much deeper than that.

Early Life: Breeding & Sale (2009 - 2010)

The story of Union Rags starts with Phyllis Mills Wyeth, the daughter of prominent Thoroughbred breeders and owners Alice du Pont and James Mills. Wyeth followed in the footsteps of her parents and owned broodmares at her Point Lookout Farm. One of these broodmares, Tempo (Terpsichorist x Gone West), was bit more special than the others.

Tempo results from a line of breeding done by Wyeth’s parents. But, Tempo typically struggled with foaling and twice she almost passed away trying to bring new life into this world. It was seemingly a miracle when Tempo’s colt by Dixie Union was born at Royal Oak Farm without much trouble. With that, Wyeth pensioned her beloved Tempo to protect her from any tragedy that could be caused by foaling.

Tempo and her Dixie Union colt arrived back at Point Lookout Farm looking lovelier than ever. Those who saw the bay, flashy colt knew that he had talent stored deep inside of him. Point Lookout Farm’s manager Juan Diego Martinez recalls that the colt, later to be named Union Rags, was quiet and lazy. Everyone else at the farm agreed. They told stories of his gentleness and how he would let people climb all over him as he laid in his stall. His kind nature at everyone at the farm falling deep in love with him.

Wyeth’s accountants recommended that she sell Union Rags when he was a yearling, advising her that this was a business and not a hobby. Although she wanted to keep the horse, she agreed that it would be the best decision and he was sold for $145,000 to IEAH Stables at the August Fasig-Tipton Yearling Sale in 2010.

She immediately regretted having sold a horse so dear to her heart and knew that she had to get her horse back. A year later, Wyeth’s close-friend and advisor Russell Jones spotted Union Rags at a Two-Year Olds in Training Sale. Russell quickly called Wyeth to tell her; she wanted Russell to bid up to $390,000 for the horse. As if by fate, the hammer landed at $390,000.

Union Rags was back home.

[Video: Watch Union Rags get bought back as a two-year old for $390k]

Two-Year Old Season as a L