Thursday Allowance Win Earns Citizen K 93 Beyer

April 14, 2023

Citizen K successful off the layoff Thursday at Aqueduct (NYRA/Coglianese)

Stonewall Star Ready for Graded Test in Keeneland’s G2 Beaumont

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Barry Schwartz’s New York homebred Citizen K returned triumphantly from a seven-month layoff to post an easy six-length victory in Thursday’s fifth race, a 1 1/16-mile first-level state-bred allowance, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Horacio De Paz, the 5-year-old son of Mizzen Mast led each step of the way under Manny Franco to take a five-length advantage at the stretch call and widen his margin to six lengths at the wire, stopping the clock in 1:40.43. The effort was awarded a career-best 93 Beyer Speed Figure.

“Is that what he got? Wow,” De Paz said of the number. “He came back good and was a bit tired, but that’s expected coming off the layoff. It was a good, honest effort.”

Citizen K has relished a stretch out in distance since trying turf routing for the first time in July, a move that has seen him adjust his running style to be more forwardly placed rather than the rallying tactics he used earlier in his career when sprinting. He had a productive 2-for-4 on-the-board record last year, including a closing victory in an April turf sprint at Belmont Park to break his maiden at sixth asking off a six-month respite.

“He had won off the layoff last year, so he’s a horse that does well freshening up,” De Paz said. “He’s a good work horse and he had a really good season last year. We laid him up for the winter and everything went to plan. He stayed very consistent through everything. We just kind of let the riders put him where he’s comfortable and the pace is much easier for him to establish himself in the longer races.”

Schwartz and De Paz will have more to look forward to this weekend when Citizen K’s half-sister, Stonewall Star, makes her graded stakes debut in Sunday’s seven-furlong Grade 2, $400,000 Beaumont at Keeneland. The New York-bred daughter of Flatter enters from an 11-length romp facing open company in the Wide Country going the Beaumont distance on February 18 at Laurel Park.

De Paz said the filly’s latest effort, which was her first victory at seven furlongs, gives him confidence heading into Sunday.

“She’s been doing great and has settled in down here at Keeneland,” said De Paz. “Hopefully, she maintains her form and it would be great to have a New York-bred do well here. She’s a gutsy filly and she answered the questions last time about racing against open company and being able to get seven-eighths. I think she’s just continuing to develop more and more and develop into herself. Her fitness is at a level where she’s enjoying herself out there.”

Stonewall Star, who is named after her owner’s breeding operation, Stonewall Farm, brings a seasoned record to a Beaumont field that is led by the Brad Cox-trained Key of Life, the even-money morning-line favorite who won the Purple Martin at Oaklawn Park last out. Stonewall Star has raced over four different surfaces, including a trip to Finger Lakes Racetrack in October to finish a valiant third against males in the New York Breeders’ Futurity.

De Paz said the bay filly’s well-traveled resume is one of her best attributes.

“Obviously Brad Cox is the one to beat and he’s a tough guy to beat, but she’s battle-tested. We ran her against boys, we’ve run her at different racetracks,” said De Paz. “Out of the group of horses I brought down here, she’s one that’s a little more tested. Hopefully the pace isn’t too crazy and hopefully she’ll handle the slop if we get rain.”

Stonewall Star will emerge from post 3 in rein to Luis Saez with a morning-line odds of 3-1.

The Beaumont will be the third graded stakes in nine days that De Paz has contested at the Lexington oval. He saddled Be Your Best to a seventh-place finish in the one-mile Grade 2 Appalachian and Noble Emotion to an eighth-place finish in the 5 1/2-furlong Grade 2 Shakertown, both on April 8.

Michael J. Ryan’s Be Your Best made her first start since a ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in November. She tracked in fourth through the first three points of call under Luis Saez before making a mild bid in the turn and weakening down the lane. The daughter of Muhaarar went 2-for-2 at Saratoga Race Course last year, including a win in the P.G. Johnson in September.

Michael Ryan and Sarah Sutherland’s Noble Emotion was sent to post at odds of 76-1 in the Shakertown and saved ground on the inside down the backstretch after being checked shortly after the start of the race. He swung four-wide in the turn and ran evenly down the stretch to finish 3 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Caravel.

De Paz noted that both horses emerged from their efforts in good order and that he is hopeful the two will benefit from their starts fitness-wise.

“Be Your Best tried around the turn and showed she wants to compete with those horses. We’ll regroup back at Belmont, find some races there, and then get her ready for Saratoga where she’s undefeated,” De Paz said. “I was very happy with the effort from Noble Emotion. It was an ambitious spot with him and he got checked pretty severely a sixteenth into the race and tried to make a run. He didn’t get beat by much and he didn’t embarrass himself. At least we got started with them and they got these races underneath them.”

A rising star in De Paz’s barn could be Roger Cimbora, Jr.’s New York homebred Twenty Six Black, who returned from a nine-month respite to graduate at second asking on April 7 at the Big A. The son of War Dancer pounced from 1 1/2 lengths off the pace in the six-furlong turf sprint under Manny Franco and flew home late to nab Electric Stuff at the wire. He was awarded a 72 Beyer for the effort.

De Paz said the effort met the expectations he has held for the colt since he debuted in July at Saratoga.

“When he came in last year, he showed a lot of maturity and then I partnered him up with Be Your Best for his workouts,” said De Paz. “He kept up with her and I really liked that. He had a lot of class to him. The time off helped him mature even more.”

Out of the First Dude mare Brazo de Oro, Twenty Six Black is from the family of graded stakes winners Popular and Contested Bid. His other start was a third-place finish in his July debut, giving him a perfect in-the-money record with $49,060 in total purse earnings.

@jonathanstettin such a great read! In my car reading this on my lunch break with a huge smile.

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