Trainer Doug O'Neill said he is happy with his multiple graded stakes winner and Belmont Stakes hopeful Blended Citizen, who offered his first workout since his 1 ½-length victory in the Grade 3 Peter Pan at Belmont Park on May 12.
The Proud Citizen colt threw a speedy half-mile in 47.55 seconds over Belmont's main track Saturday morning with trainer Nick Esler in the irons. It was the first breeze in preparation towards a start in the Belmont Stakes on June 9.
The 3-year-old took to the track at 5:45 a.m., and was allowed to stand and take in the massive course before he went about his work regimen. O'Neill said the work was timed with splits of 12 3/5 and 25 for the first quarter, and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00 and six furlongs in 1:13.
The Belmont would be the 11th career start for Blended Citizen, who took his time early in his career after breaking his maiden in his fifth career start. It was the second consecutive try on turf after he rallied to close four wide to win by 1 ¼ lengths at Del Mar. He then closed out his 2-year-old season with a fourth-place finish in the December 29 Eddie Logan at Santa Anita.
The chestnut's sophomore year began on synthetic with a third place in the El Camino Real Derby over Golden Gate Fields' Tapeta course on February 17. His first attempt against graded stakes company followed in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on Polytrack at Turfway Park on March 17 when he debuted with blinkers and returned with rider Kyle Frey for the second consecutive time. That effort put him on the map as a contender on the Kentucky Derby trail after he prevailed to win by a neck after a long drive to the wire in the 1 1/8-mile prep race.
The change in surface and equipment was something O'Neill and his crew decided might be necessary going forward.
“He's always worked well on the dirt,” O'Neill said via email. “I think the blinkers helped him focus and not run immaturely or spotty. The blinkers also helped the rider place him in his races easier [and have] more early speed away from the gate.”
Following the Jeff Ruby, Blended Citizen remained in Kentucky and again stepped up in company in the Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland. Although hindered and forced to alter his course in the stretch, Blended Citizen ran fifth behind reigning 2-Year-Old Champion Good Magic.
After earning only 22 points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, Blended Citizen was an also-eligible in the “Run for the Roses,” but failed to draw in that previous Friday when no defections were announced from the race. He instead worked a solid six furlongs in 1:16 at Churchill that morning, his last before his victory in the Peter Pan.
Blended Citizen has the chance to become the eighth horse to sweep the Peter Pan-Belmont Stakes double, joining Counterpoint (1951), Gallant Man (1957), Cavan (1958), Coastal (1979), Danzig Connection (1986), A.P. Indy (1992), and Tonalist (2017).
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.