California-based trainer Doug O'Neill will keep Saturday's Grade 3 Peter Pan winner Blended Citizen “right where he is,” and point to the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9.
The colt enjoyed a nice quiet Sunday morning at Belmont Park with a brisk walk and some grazing alongside his groom Danny Robles. The colt will remain at Belmont to train for the 1 ½-mile “Test of the Champion.” He is expected to continue to walk for the next few days before returning to the track and will likely begin stronger preparations in about two weeks.
“Our plan is to stay right where we are there,” said O'Neill by email on Sunday morning. “[Trainer] Ralph Nicks and his crew have offered to help us as well as we approach the Belmont.”
The son of Proud Citizen benefited under a patient ride by jockey Kyle Frey, and used his long stride to his advantage around Belmont Park's sweeping turns to rally six wide before closing outside to get up in the final 70 yards from the wire 1 ½ lengths in front in the Peter Pan.
The victory was the Kentucky-bred's first win since the March 17 Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks, which he won by a neck over 11 others on Turfway Park's synthetic track. That win led to a start in the April 7 Blue Grass at Keeneland, where he employed a mild gain, and was steadied late for fifth among the field of 14.
The winner of three races with earnings of $406,854 was scratched as an also-eligible in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and was then pointed to the Peter Pan.
Blended Citizen has the chance to become the eighth winner of the Peter Pan who carried his effort forward with a victory in the Belmont Stakes to sweep the Peter Pan/Belmont double.
The list includes Counterpoint (1951), Gallant Man (1957), Cavan (1958), Coastal (1979), Danzig Connection (1986), A.P. Indy (1992), and Tonalist (2017).
Juddmonte Farm's Kentucky Derby runner Hofburg has settled in well at Bill Mott's training base at Saratoga Race Course, where he will train ahead of a possible start in the 1 ½-mile Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, said the Hall of Famer on Sunday morning.
“He's going to stay and train up there and we'll think about the Belmont,” said Mott. “He's doing really good.”
The chestnut Tapit colt was a troubled seventh in the 1 ¼-mile Derby, where he was bumped at the break and steadied twice before getting clear in late stretch and finishing up with a strong gallop out.
The “Run for the Roses” was the fourth lifetime start for Hofburg, who stamped his Derby ticket with a game runner-up finish to Audible in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 31 at Gulfstream.
“He just didn't have a smooth trip [in the Derby],” Mott said. “He had a lot of traffic trouble. He went from being about eight or nine lengths off the lead going into the turn and came out of it about 15 off. He just had to put the brakes on. It was good to see that he certainly wasn't laying down exhausted [after the race]. He seemed to have a lot left.”
Mott said plans to breeze Hofburg are still to be determined.
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