The Pizza Man Ready for Third Million Run
Arlington International Publicity Department
Midwest Thoroughbreds’ The Pizza Man is on track to contest his third Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 12 at Arlington International Racecourse. In 2015 the son of English Channel became the first Illinois-bred to win Arlington’s centerpiece race, bringing home the trophy for Chicagoland residents Richard and Karen Papiese.
“We’re really excited to have him in the Arlington Million again this year,” said Richard Papiese. “He’s been pointing to this race since the beginning of the season, when he came back from his break at the farm.”
The Pizza Man finished sixth in the 2016 Arlington Million, 1½ lengths behind winner Mondialiste (IRE), leaving some to wonder if his best days were behind him – but a victory in the Grade I Northern Dancer at Woodbine on Sept. 17 assisted in dispelling those worries. Still, after a 10-month and seven-race campaign in 2016 his trainer Roger Brueggemann decided on an extended period of rest at the farm before bringing The Pizza Man back in June to face Illinois state-breds in the Black Tie Affair Handicap at Arlington.
The 8-year-old gelding faced only four rivals in his first start of 2017, but over a yielding course and with an assigned highweight of 128 pounds, The Pizza Man was well off the slow pace early and could only get within two lengths of the winner at the wire. He returned the following month in the Grade III Stars and Stripes, a race he had won twice in four prior starts. The Pizza Man showed improvement, taking the lead in the stretch only to be caught by a quick-closing Keystoneforvictory.
“He’s a serious racehorse,” said Papiese. “He likes to chase horses, and when he gets in front of them he feels he did his job. I think that last race he just moved too early.”
Now making his third start back from the layoff, Papiese believes it’s all systems go for the Midwest Thoroughbreds’ homebred. Taking it one race at a time, his owners are focused on enjoying what The Pizza Man brings to the table, for as long as that may be.
“It’s not about getting anything else out of him, he’s done enough already,” said Papiese. “When he’s ready to retire and find a new job, we’ll do that. We’ll let him tell us.”
SONIC BOOM TARGETS GRADE I SECRETARIAT
Lothenbach Stables’ Sonic Boom is being pointed towards the Grade I Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 12 following the Ian Wilkes trainee’s win in the Grade III American Derby at Arlington International Racecourse on July 8. The 3-year-old colt by More Than Ready showed his speed and stamina when leading wire-to-wire in the 1 1/16 miles turf event, earning an automatic entry with starting fees waived into the Secretariat.
“I’m very pleased with how he’s doing,” said Wilkes. “He’s a little bigger and stronger than last year, but you have to improve or you’re going to get passed. His greatest weapon is his natural speed. We figured out how to ride him in Tampa, and we’ve tried to stick to that.”
Bred in Kentucky by Athens Woods LLC and More Than Ready Syndicate, Sonic Boom made his debut as a 2-year-old last August over the dirt at Ellis Park. It was in his second start, coming at Kentucky Downs, that the colt showed an affinity for the grass when he broke his maiden with a five-length win. His first stakes win came in the Columbia at Tampa Bay Downs in March going a mile on the grass when matched with rider Julien Leparoux for the first time. Now with three wins in his five starts this season, Sonic Boom seems primed to tackle the challenge of his first Grade I in the upcoming Secretariat.