ELMONT, NY – Greg Hall and SAYJAY Racing’s Blended Citizen stamped himself a legitimate contender for the upcoming Belmont Stakes on Saturday after closing late to win that race’s local prep, the Grade 3, $350,000 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking a bit slowly from post 4 under Kyle Frey, Blended Citizen found himself near the rear early while Just Whistle and the favored Core Beliefs pushed each other through fractions of :23.92, :47.07, 1:11.41, and 1:36.48 for the opening mile. Running four-wide off of the far turn, and down the stretch, Blended Citizen had to put forth every bit of effort down the stretch in order to wrangle a loose-on-the-lead Core Beliefs. With a furlong to go, Core Beliefs shied out from the rail and saw Blended Citizen rapidly making ground. Continuing to drive steadily through to the wire, Blended Citizen crossed in first by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:49.75 for the 9-furlong main track event.
Core Beliefs was much the best of the rest, taking second by 4 lengths over Just Whistle. High North had joined the winner in his bid off of the far turn but couldn’t match strides and never improved beyond his fourth-place finish. Zing Zang crossed ahead of Gotta Go to complete the order of finish. Diamond King scratched in favor of running in next week’s Preakness Stakes. Transistor was also scratched.
Blended Citizen’s win was his second graded stakes score following a narrow triumph in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park in March. After he finished fifth last out in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes, Blended Citizen remained short on points needed to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Doug O’Neill shipped him to Churchill Downs, hoping that another horse would scratch from the starting lineup and allow Blended Citizen to take its place, but it wasn’t meant to be. O’Neill knew that the 3-year-old son of Proud Citizen was ready to fire a big race and chose to unleash him in the Peter Pan to determine if he would enter the Belmont Stakes. It’s safe to say that he passed the test.
Blended Citizen returned $11.40 to win, $4.40 to place, and $2.60 to show. Core Beliefs brought back $3.60 to place and $2.50 to show, while Just Whistle paid $2.50 to show.