Blended Citizen after winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park

Blended Citizen after winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park

Coady Photography

Blue Grass Under Consideration for Blended Citizen

Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) winner a candidate for April 7 Derby prep at Keeneland.

Blended Citizen, winner of the $202,400 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on Turfway Park's Polytrack March 17, could make his next start in Keeneland's April 7 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2).

Trainer Doug O'Neill said the $1 million race is the likely plan for the son of Proud Citizen, who was listed as one of 10 late nominees to the Triple Crown series March 21.

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Blended Citizen, owned by Steve Young's Sayjay Racing and Greg Hall, took the Jeff Ruby following a third-place finish in Golden Gate's El Camino Real Derby. A trio of turf races preceded that stakes try. His first three trips came on dirt without much success, but at a mile or shorter.

"The Turfway Poly is kind of loose and not as 'carpet-like' as some of the synthetic tracks," O'Neill said Wednesday. "Talking with (jockey) Kyle Frey after the race, he said, 'It's not a whole lot different than a dirt track. It's loose; there's some kickback.' "

The large colt, out of Langara Lass, by Langfuhr , and a half brother to last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) runner-up Lookin At Lee, might have shown a new dimension in Northern Kentucky.

"We're optimistic by nature, but his being a half brother to Lookin At Lee, who was second in the Derby last year, and being that Turfway plays a little dirt-like, we're saying, 'Hey, from what we've seen in the mornings from this guy.' He made up ground in a dirt sprint in his second start (Sept. 2). We're optimistic he can carry that form. He's a good-sized horse," O'Neill said. "He jumps a long way; he's got a good stride.

"We added the blinkers—which (assistant trainer) Leandro Mora gets the credit for. Kyle said he was able to have much more horse early with the blinkers without asking for it. That can be a huge asset going to back to dirt, where you need some tactical speed to not fall too far out of it. That's going to help him."

O'Neill won last year's Blue Grass with Reddam Racing's Irap

Bred by Ray Hanson, Blended Citizen was a $57,000 RNA as part of the Penn Sales consignment during day 10 of the 13-session 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. Agent Brooke Hubbard picked out the colt for $85,000 at last year's Ocala Breeders' Sales' March sale from Wavertree Stables.

With a record of 2-0-2 from eight starts and $167,054 in earnings, Blended Citizen is currently 15th in the Kentucky Derby standings with 22 points.