10/04/2011 11:59AM

Calder: Citizen Advocate claim pays off after owner's misfortune

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Citizen Advocate wins her third straight race in the $150,000 Presque Isle Downs Debutante.

MIAMI – Citizen Advocate may be the claim of the year thus far in south Florida. Haltered by Tom Mara’s White Hall Lane Farm for $40,000 on July 10, Citizen Advocate has won three races in a row, including last Saturday’s $150,000 Presque Isle Downs Debutante. But if it weren’t for a disastrous turn of events earlier this summer, Mara and trainer Dave Vivian never would have dropped the claim slip that brought the 2-year-old daughter of Proud Citizen into their possession.

Citizen Advocate hadn’t even started when Mara and Vivian sent out their top 2-year-old prospect God Willing to launch his career June 4. Bet down to 4-5 for his debut, the son of Trippi ran to his backing, cruising to a victory so impressive it had Mara’s phone immediately ringing off the hook with offers to purchase the young colt.

Mara, however, had no intention of selling God Willing, who won easily despite coming out of the race with a bad respiratory infection and a bucked shin. His plan was to get God Willing healthy and point him to the Florida Stallion series scheduled to begin later in the summer.

Only God Willing never did recover. According to Mara, his condition worsened and the promising colt ultimately succumbed to a bout of colitis shortly thereafter.

“I’ve owned horses for 30 years, including stakes winners like Chelsey Flower and Roar Emotion,” Mara said minutes after watching Citizen Advocate win the Presque Isle Debutante on Saturday. “And I was also part of the group that sold Point Determined at auction as a 2-year-old. But potentially, God Willing was the best horse I’ve ever had.”

With God Willing suddenly gone, Mara, a native of Farmington, Conn., began searching for a 2-year-old to replace his budding star. That search ended when he spotted Citizen Advocate in for a $40,000 claiming tag July 10.

“I watched the replay of her first race and I thought she should have won, but the rider got her caught up in a speed duel and kept her pinned down on a dead rail the whole way,” Mara said. “I also ran a pedigree check and thought she had an interesting pedigree.”

Citizen Advocate crossed the finish line first by more than six lengths the day Mara claimed her, but she was disqualified and placed fourth for causing interference leaving the starting gate. Mara and Vivian wheeled Citizen Advocate back three weeks later to win a maiden special weight dash and then turned the versatile filly into a stakes winner when switching her to turf to capture the Catcharisingstar Stakes here Aug. 27.

As was the case in the Catcharisingstar, Citizen Advocate forced the pace from the outset of the Presque Isle Debutante, forged to command in early stretch, and then dug in gamely to edge clear by more than a length at the wire, despite jockey Luis Jurado losing his whip near the eighth pole.

“I never would have taken this horse if I hadn’t lost God Willing,” Mara said. “Sometimes things just have a way of evening out in this business. After she won the turf stakes, Dave and I thought she’d do even better on Polytrack, which is why we sent her to Presque Isle. I also think she’ll improve even further going long, and our two options at the moment are to send her to Delta Downs for the rich stakes they have there for 2-year-old fillies later this fall or find a turf stakes somewhere for her, perhaps during the upcoming Keeneland meet.”

Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap fails to fill

There will only be 11, instead of the customary 13, races on Saturday’s program. One of the races that did not fill for Saturday was the $75,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap. The 6 1/2-furlong dash for older horses had drawn only nine nominations, including Giant Ryan, winner of the Grade 1 Vosburgh last weekend at Belmont Park and the multiple Grade 2 winner D’ Funnybone, who is now based locally with trainer Marty Wolfson.

Mambo Meister tops Spend a Buck noms

Nominations have closed for the three supporting stakes on the Oct. 15 Summit of Speed program.

The Grade 3, $100,000 Spend a Buck attracted nine older males, topped by Mambo Meister and Turbo Compressor, who began his career in south Florida before being transferred to trainer Todd Pletcher earlier this year.

The $75,000 Tropical Park Derby for 3-year-olds going nine furlongs on the grass attracted 11 nominations, headed by trainer Christophe Clement’s Adirondack Summer and a pair from trainer Greg Sacco, Freud’s Honour and Glass Art.

The $75,000 Frances Genter, carded at a mile on the turf, lured nominations from 17 3-year-old fillies, including a pair from Clement, Miss Liberty and Ruthenia.

◗ Training hours will be altered here both Friday and Sunday morning to accommodate concerts to be held on the grandstand apron the previous evenings. The main track will be open from 7-10 a.m. with no breaks on both mornings, with the starting gate available at its usual time from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Regular training hours will be in effect Saturday.