Value Sires for '22, Part VII: Through the Crossroads

Thu, 12/30/2021 - 16:16

Bronze: UNION RAGS (Dixie Union–Tempo, by Gone West)

$30,000 Lane's End


Has the time come to get back on board the Union Rags express? There's no point pretending that the halving of his fee from $60,000 last spring was purely a COVID concession. He had hoisted himself from an initial $35,000 with no fewer than four Grade I winners from his first two crops, but dropped to ninth in the fourth-crop table in 2019 and slipped to 111 mares in 2020. But his farm's businesslike response was immediately rewarded by a return to full subscription (by their commendably restrained standards, anyway) at 164 mares.

In terms of output, then, Union Rags has plenty to work with, if he can regroup now. And that is exactly what he has begun to do. In 2021, he's back at the top of the class by stakes winners (seven), graded stakes winners (four) and graded stakes performers (11). He's had a number of near-misses in resonant races: Express Train was foiled by half a length in the GI Santa Anita H., Dynamic One missed by a nose in the GII Wood Memorial, and Commandperformance finished second in the GI Champagne S. and fourth in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile on only his second and third starts. The $1-million baby Spielberg is back on the worktab, too.

It feels like the stock of Union Rags taper to a peak that is higher than it is wide. Cumulatively, his percentage of black-type action doesn't quite match classmate Creative Cause, for instance, and he stands at a quarter of the fee. But when Union Rags does connect, he can hit a long way. He has so far assembled as many as 12 Grade I performers among 29 placed at graded stakes level overall, at a ratio that measures right up to his universally admired studmate Twirling Candy. Union Rags always promised to cover all bases as a fast juvenile (won GII Saratoga Special by seven lengths en route to GI Champagne S. success and a head defeat at the Breeders' Cup) who stretched his speed to win the GI Belmont S. on what sadly proved his final start. Though somewhat shaken by his ups and downs, the market maintains him with ample viability at this kind of fee (last two yearling crops averaged $87,024 and $106,000) and Union Rags, who has now been joined at stud by his imposing son Catalina Cruiser, is certainly a conduit of some venerable genes. His half-sister is the dam of an international force in Declaration of War (War Front) while his third dam is a British Classic winner by a son of Hyperion.

It goes without saying that a lot of the new sires corralling huge books this coming spring will never manage a single Grade I winner, never mind four, and it seems a little unfair to punish Union Rags for doing so well, so quickly, and then not repeating quickly enough. It takes a potent sire to do what he did, and he's the self-same package now–but at half the fee he could charge only a couple of years ago. Definite scope for Rags to riches, once again.

By: Chris McGrath, Thoroughbred Daily News

Read full article here.