Greg Hall and SAYJAY Racing's Blended Citizen, making his third straight start in graded company, took control of the field just seventy yards shy of the finish May 12 to win the $350,000 Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park.
The June 9 Belmont Stakes (G1) is next on the radar for the Doug O'Neill-trained Proud Citizen colt.
The sole starter in the field of six with a graded victory, Blended Citizen broke slowly in the 1 1/8-mile test. Favorite Core Beliefs stumbled out of the gate but regained his balance and moved swiftly to the front, where he was set upon by Just Whistle. The two ran neck-and-neck through the first mile, setting fractions of :23.92, :47.07, 1:11.41, and 1:36.48.
With a furlong to go, Core Beliefs edged ahead along the rail as Blended Citizen moved up on the outside to challenge the lead at the sixteenth pole, inching away in the final seconds to win by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:49.75.
"It couldn't have been any more perfect," jockey Kyle Frey said. "Those guys broke, and I think everyone was really overthinking it—not going too fast because there wasn't much speed. All that did was set it up for me, because no matter what, my horse had the best final fraction of any horse in the race."
"We led him over here with a lot of confidence," said Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O'Neill. "He's such a big horse with such a big stride. We thought if he's going to love any track in America, it's going to be Belmont Park."
Blended Citizen scored in the March 17 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) over the same distance at Turfway Park—his first out in graded company. The 3-year-old accrued enough points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard to be an also-eligible entrant for the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) but failed to draw into the race.
Bred in Kentucky by Ray Hanson, Blended Citizen is out of the winning Langfuhr mare Langara Lass. He was purchased for $85,000 as a 2-year-old by Brooke Hubbard, agent, from the Wavertree Stables consignment at the 2017 Ocala Breeders' Sales March sale of 2-year-olds in training. The Peter Pan was the second grade 3 win for the colt, who has a record of 3-0-2 in 10 starts and earnings of $406,854.
Sisterson said O'Neill will keep Blended Citizen in New York to train up to the third jewel of the Triple Crown.