Midwest Thoroughbreds' 2015 Grade I Arlington Million winner The Pizza Man and 2014 Champion Sprinter Work All Week returned to the Arlington International Racecourse backstretch last week to the barn of Roger Brueggemann and will be used as stable ponies during training hours.
The Pizza Man became the only horse bred in Illinois to win Chicagoland's marquee race when the son of English Channel took the 33rd running of the Arlington Million back in 2015. In addition to this unique feat that earned him Illinois-racing immortality, The Pizza Man also captured four other graded stakes events in his 36-race career including the Grade I Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine in 2016. Following his third crack at the Arlington Million last season he was retired to relax and enjoy his hard-earned time off in Ocala, Florida.
Work All Week took the Grade I Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita back in 2014, a win that earned the son of City Zip an Eclipse Award honor for Champion Sprinter that year. He retired in October 2015 due to a stress fracture in his right knee, and after recuperating from his injury was given a new job as a stable pony for New York-based conditioner Danny Gargan.
“The Pizza Man is happy to be back, he looks better than the rest of the horses,” Brueggemann said with a laugh. “We took him to the gate the other day and he wanted to go in the gate himself. It's very nice to have him back. Naturally, they're the two best horses I've ever had so it's really nice having them around. The Pizza Man is going to turn out to be a real nice pony.”
Richard Papiese, who owns Midwest Thoroughbreds with his wife Karen, expressed excitement in being able to send his two Illinois legends to Brueggemann's barn.
“He loves where he's at, it's a shame he can't run,” Papiese said of The Pizza Man. “He has done plenty for us, but he still wants to run. Work All Week was the same way at Saratoga last summer. He even caught a few loose horses. I think you'll see The Pizza Man play a big role in Roger's barn. Both horses meant so much to Roger that it only made sense to bring them to his barn.”
As one can imagine, both horses meant a whole lot to Papiese as well. As a native of Chicago's South Side, the Arlington Million was a meaningful race to win and even more so when making history by taking the race with an Illinois-bred.
“There's no question,” Papiese said. “From the time we bred him as a baby The Pizza Man was special. You could probably write a book about him. He was part of our family. It made it fun for the whole family and you really; can't do any better than that its incredible. Work All Week is the same way. I know there's prestige in other places but to win a race like the Arlington Million was very special.”
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