top of page

Union Rags: The Horse Who Made Me Love Racing

I remember the first time I saw him on the Kentucky Derby website. He was so eye-catching -- bay with that huge, white blaze and three socks. I honestly didn’t know a lot about horse racing at the time. All I knew was what I had seen in movies like “Seabiscuit” and “Racing Stripes”. But, I knew the moment that I saw Union Rags that he was going to be special.

It was the first time I had ever been really intrigued with a racehorse. I was just twelve years old at the time and though I had watched Kentucky Derbies before, I had never known any of the horses beforehand. This was my first time actually looking into the race.

Days upon days were spent researching everything about Union Rags. I watched his race replays religiously; his performance in the Gr.1 Champagne put me in awe, his narrow loss in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile stung. Each time I watched a replay it was as if I was watching it live. I frequently googled members of his pedigree, searching for anything that proved to me that this colt was indeed made to be a champion. Needless to say, I was absolutely smitten. I made a photo of him my Facebook profile picture, shared image after image of him onto my timeline, and told everyone I could that he was going to win the Kentucky Derby. I was almost as obsessed with Union Rags as I was with One Direction haha!

On Kentucky Derby day 2012, I rushed home from the park and sat in my dad’s bedroom in front of his TV. He and my sisters gathered around to watch. I swore up and down that Union Rags could do it, that Union Rags would win. I knew nothing about handicapping at the time, I just knew that I believed in this horse.

As the world knows now, the Kentucky Derby didn’t exactly pan out for Union Rags. They left the gates and my eyes focused in on those yellow silks and that white face. I was anxious watching him run so far back in the pack, nearly dead last.

The field began going around the far turn and I got even more worrisome watching him roll past horses on the inside. They got to the top of the stretch and Union Rags was pretty much lost in the dust. The camera focused in on Bodemeister and I’ll Have Another; Union Rags finished 7th.