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Proud Citizen Back in the Headlines

Proud Citizen Photo: Airdrie

I well recall in the summer of 2002, taking what was then the short drive to Belmont Park, to take a look at Proud Citizen (TrueNicks,SRO) on behalf of a friend who was managing a prominent Kentucky stallion farm. At the time, Proud Citizen was recuperating from an injury suffered in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I)—a condylar fracture which required the insertion of four screws, and that leg was under wraps—but it was clear that Proud Citizen had a physique that matched his $425,000 yearling sales tag.

That also meant that he pretty much had everything you might want in a prospective stallion, or as the current cliché goes, “he ticked all the boxes.” He was by Gone West, not only one of the most successful sires of the time, but also beginning to carve a reputation as a sire of sires with Mr. Greeley, Elusive Quality (TrueNicks,SRO)—who was then in the middle of a freshman season that would see him represented by six individual juvenile stakes winners—and Grand Slam (TrueNicks,SRO), also a top five freshman that year. He was equally well-credentialed on the distaff side of the pedigree. His granddam, Danseuse Etoile, the dam of four stakes winners, was a sister to La Prevoyante, champion 2-year-old filly in the U.S., and Horse of the Year, champion 2-year-old filly and champion older mare in Canada. Danseuse Etoile was a daughter of Buckpasser, but what was even more attractive was that her dam, Arctic Dancer, was a sister to Northern Dancer, which also meant that Proud Citizen was from the family of two then extremely hot sires in Danehill and Machiavellian (whose representatives that year included the Dubai World Cup (gr. I) victor Street Cry (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO). And, while Proud Citizen’s only stakes win had come in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II), he’d proven his classic credentials with a second in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I)—ahead of Medaglia d'Oro (TrueNicks,SRO), Harlan's Holiday (TrueNicks,SRO), Johannesburg, and Came Home—and a third in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

It would have probably benefited Proud Citizen’s prospects as a stallion to retire at the end of that season, when his classic exploits were fresh in the mind, but rather ambitiously he was returned to the fray as a 4-year-old. Unfortunately the boldness of his connections was rewarded only by a win in a 7½-furlong allowance at Churchill Downs, Proud Citizen’s sole top three finish from seven outings in 2003. Retired to stand at Airdrie Stud, Proud Citizen made a bright start with his first crop in 2007, ending the year as third leading freshman sire, with 20 individual winners, three stakes winners, and two graded scorers. The following year, Proud Citizen narrowly missed heading the leading second season sire table and was represented by a genuine star in champion 3-year-old filly Proud Spell (TrueNicks A++). From there, Proud Citizen followed a career arc which has become an almost inevitable trend for mid-priced sires, as their next few crops see them less strongly supported than in their first year at stud. Proud Citizen did get four stakes winners from his second, but no headliners, and there were only three stakes winners in his third and fourth crops.

However, Proud Citizen’s current 3-year-olds are the produce of the mares sent to him after his freshman season, and with them he is rebounding in style. At the weekend Went the Day Well (out of a Tiznow (TrueNicks,SRO) mare and TrueNicks A++), booked his place in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) with a decisive win in the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III), and Ize in Trouble finished third in Sunland Park Oaks. For good measure, another weekend scorer for Proud Citizen was the shuttle-sired runner Vamo a Galupiar, successful in the Santa Ana Stakes (gr. II). The current 3-year-old crop has another classic candidate in Mark Valeski (out of a mare by Fortunate Prospect and TrueNicks A), who missed by a nose to El Padrino in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), and who is like to start favorite for this weekend’s Louisiana Derby (gr. I); Tempted Stakes (gr. III) and Silverbulletday Stakes winner Believe You Can (TrueNicks A++); Citizen Advocate (TrueNicks A++), who took the My Trusty Cat Stakes and Presque Isle Debutante Stakes (Believe You Can is out of a mare by El Prado (by Sadler’s Wells) and Citizen Advocate is out of a mare by Horse Chestnut, a grandson of Sadler’s Wells); and Miz Ida (dam by Green Alligator and TrueNicks A+), who took the Allen LaCombe Memorial Stakes. Proud Citizen’s current 2-year-old crop were sired the year after Proud Spell’s championship season, so we can anticipate some fireworks from them too. With that in mind, if he’s not already full, Proud Citizen looks an awfully good play for 2012 at $10,000 live foal.

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