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Blended Citizen officially pointing to Belmont Stakes 2018

Blended Citizen officially pointing to Belmont Stakes 2018
Photo: Courtesy of the NYRA
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 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.

"When horses started to drop out of the Kentucky Derby we thought we'd take a chance there and we didn't get it," said Jack Sisterson, O'Neill's assistant trainer, "but everything happens for a reason and here we are today."

"I think it [1 ½ miles] is exactly what he wants," said jockey Kyle Frey. "I was super upset that we didn't get in the Derby, because I knew a mile and a quarter would be just fine. Things didn't go as we planned, but God always has a plan and I feel like it's a good one."

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 (2014).

 

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