Union Rags may have disappointed out of the gate at the 2012 Kentucky Derby, ultimately finishing seventh, but he's still a strong contender for the second and third legs of the Triple Crown.
Union Rags was a 5-1 favorite on Saturday at Churchill Downs on the back of two top-three finishes (including a victory in the Fountain of Youth Stakes), but he fell to 18th place early on and was never able to overcome his inside post position.
Inside post position: Those are the key words.
Inside post position was dreaded at this year's Kentucky Derby. Given the 20-horse field and overwhelming amount of legitimate contenders, anyone on the inside was bound to be in for a rude awakening.
That's why I was surprised when Union Rags was pegged with such good odds. I had him as one of my favorite horses headed into Churchill Downs, but I also realized that he was not only at post No. 4, he was sandwiched in between two strong horses in Take Charge Indy and Dullahan. His only shot was sprinting ahead of the pack right out of the gate, but that's easier said than done when you have two top horses alongside you.
It also wasn't a surprise that Take Charge Indy, who won the Florida Derby this year, finished in 19th place out of the No. 3 slot. The fact of the matter was, inside post position was nearly impossible to overcome in the 2012 Kentucky Derby.
So, we really shouldn't be worried about Union Rags based on his placing at Churchill Downs. The odds were seriously stacked against him, and the fact that he gained so much ground at the end actually shows great promise.
Moving forward, Union Rags is still a favorite in the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Don't let his seventh-place finish at Churchill Downs fool you.
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