Blended Citizen wins the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park (Coady Photo)

Road to the Kentucky Derby Jeff Ruby Steaks winner Blended Citizen

Blended Citizen picked up his initial stakes win with a game tally in the $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks S. (G3) at Turfway Park on Saturday. The three-year-old colt found his best stride late and held off a stern test in the final yards under the guidance of West Coast-based pilot Kyle Frey.

Trained by Doug O’Neill, Blended Citizen didn’t show much from a trio of races on the dirt to begin his career, and he graduated in his fifth try on the turf at Del Mar in the fall. The bay colt was a creditable fourth in the grassy Eddie Logan Stakes to conclude his two-year-old campaign and has shown marked improvement from a pair of assignments this season. Kentucky-bred was a good third in the El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate in a 2018 debut, which preceded his biggest triumph to date in the Jeff Ruby.

Blended Citizen went through the sales ring twice. The colt was a $57,000 RNA (Not Sold) at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, before bringing the gavel down at $85,000 during the 2017 OBS March Sale as a two-year-old in training.

He is a son of the late Proud Citizen, who finished second in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness Stakes for conditioner D. Wayne Lukas. A Grade 2 winner on the track, Proud Citizen did good work in the breeding shed, too.

His best runner was 2008 Kentucky Oaks (G1) standout Proud Spell, who banked more than $2.1 million and never finished out of the money from 13 lifetime races. The dual Grade 1 queen also proved to be capable of staying a route of ground when enduring 1 ¼ miles in the 2008 Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course. It is certainly worth note that Champion Proud Spell is from the same breeding cross as Blended Citizen (by Proud Citizen out of a Langfuhr mare).

2012 Kentucky Oaks star Believe You Can, as well as Chilean Champions Torre Laguna and Vamp A Galupiar, are also progeny of Proud Citizen.

Blended Citizen is one of five winners out of multiple stakes heroine Langara Lass. And he has some pedigree on his side. His half-brother, millionaire Lookin At Lee, finished a fine second in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. In addition, his full sister Battlefield Angel was a stakes queen who finished third in the 2013 Alcibiades Stakes (G1).

A pair of important questions still lingers for Blended Citizen. His ability to produce a top effort going 1 ¼ miles is debatable as his sire has done his best work with middle distance runners, while much of the sophomore’s female line trends towards sprinter/miler types.

The second major question – is the colt classy enough to run at the Grade 1 level on the dirt?

It’s obvious that Blended Citizen has improved a great deal since transitioning to turf and/or synthetic surfaces. He will still have to prove that he can be as effective on a conventional oval, but he deserves another chance following his last two performances.