July 23, 2024

Frey Finds a Hole, Guides Blended Citizen to Jeff Ruby Steaks glory

Blended Citizen earned his first stakes win taking the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park (Coady Photography)

Irish eyes were smiling on Kyle Frey when–wearing the lime and dark green silks of owners Greg Hall and Steve Young’s Sanjay Racing’s Blended Citizen—the jockey weaved in and out of several holes in the final three-eighths of a mile to capture the $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on St. Patrick’s Day at Turfway Park.

“I wasn’t worried at any point about my horse—I knew I had horse,” said the former Eclipse Award winner as outstanding apprentice. “I was worried about finding a hole. Once I saw one I told the guys around me, ‘Sorry buddies, I got horse and I’m going to get the money,’ and we did.”

Blended Citizen ran midpack through the early portion of the race and down the backstretch before starting his move into contention on the far turn. Pacesetter Mugaritz faded late, and the closing stages were a mad dash to the finish between Blended Citizen on the rail and Pony Up in the center of the track.

“That was a great job by Kyle to work out that trip,” co-owner Young said. “We wanted him to be close but not too close and be in a position to win turning for home, and he was.”

Doug O’Neill trains Blended Citizen, an $85,000 two-year-old in training purchase at the 2017 March Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. Young said his bloodstock agent Brooke Hubbard picked out the Proud Citizen colt.

Blended Citizen shipped to Kentucky after finishing third in the El Camino Real Derby (G3) behind filly Paved and City Plan. His Jeff Ruby Steaks and El Camino Real performances would be worth 20 and 2 points, respectively, if he had been nominated to the Triple Crown. He hasn’t been yet, but both Young and Hall say they’re now pointing Blended Citizen to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). His half-brother, Lookin at Lee, finished second in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

How they get there, and whether they’ll go for more points on the dirt, remains to be seen. To date, Blended Citizen is winless in three starts on dirt, with nothing better than a sixth-place finish.

“If we have enough points, our intent is to run in the Derby,” Young said.

“We’re confident in the horse,” Hall added. “We’ll see what Doug wants to do.”

Blended Citizen has now won 2 of 8 career starts and has earnings of $174,000. This is Frey’s third career graded stakes win from 17 mounts in such races.