Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc.'s The Pizza Man, a winner of 15 of 25 lifetime starts, including the Arlington Million last summer, heads a full field of 14 Thoroughbreds in the Grade II $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, feature of Del Mar's Thanksgiving Day racing program Thursday.
The Pizza Man, a six-year-old son of English Channel trained by Roger Brueggemann who has earned more than $1.7 million, will have Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the saddle and he figures to be favored in the mile and one-half marathon over Del Mar's infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course. He was third in the event a year ago behind Finnegans Wake, beaten one and one-quarter lengths as the 2-1 favorite.
More recently, The Pizza Man was a creditable fifth in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Turf October 31 at Keeneland, beaten four and one-quarter lengths by Found.
Among The Pizza Man's rivals are Sam-Son Farm's Up With the Birds, an earner of $1.6 million who was runner-up in the Grade I Canadian International a month ago at Woodbine, and Michael House's Big John B, winner of the Del Mar Handicap for the past two years. Drayden Van Dyke rides Up With the Birds for trainer Graham Motion, while Rafael Bejarano again has the call from trainer Phil D'Amato on Big John B who was tenth in the Breeders' Cup Turf October 31.
Others in the Hollywood Turf Cup field are Class Leader, Santiago Gonzalez; Danas Best, Victor Espinoza; Quick Casablanca, Tyler Baze; Procurement, Corey Nakatani; Ganesh, Alex Solis; Power Ped, Mario Gutierrez; Texas Ryano, James Graham; Generoso, Martin Pedroza; Southern Freedom, Martin Garcia, and Wanstead Gardens, Gary Stevens. On the also-eligible list are Flamboyant, Brice Blanc, and Bird E House, Gonzalo Nicolas.
Special Thanksgiving holiday post time for the first race Thursday is 11 a.m.
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