Midwest Thoroughbreds' Eclipse Award finalist for champion turf male and Grade I winner The Pizza Man had his first work of 2016 on Saturday morning at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The Roger Brueggemann-trained son of English Channel left Barn 20 at approximately 8:45, shortly after the break, and completed five furlongs in 1:01.60 – good for 11th of 42 moves at the distance.
The Pizza Man will now aim toward the Grade II $200,000 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 6. At 1¼ miles on the grass, the San Marcos is designed to give the big bay fan favorite a trip on the same turf course over which the Grade I $3,000,000 Breeders' Cup Turf will be contested in November, which is unique in that it includes a hillside turf course that crosses the dirt course in the early portion of the race. A victory would push his career earnings over the $2 million mark.
Jockey Francisco Torres, who has successfully ridden the 7-year-old before in races, was aboard for today's drill. Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who was aboard for his impressive victory last out in the Grade II $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar in late November, has the return call in the San Marcos.
“All systems go,” Torres said after dismounting.
After the San Marcos, The Pizza Man is possible for the Group I $6,000,000 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates. If his connections decide to stay in the United States for his second start, he will be under consideration for the Grade II $300,000 Mervin H. Muniz Memorial on Mar. 26 at Fair Grounds.
“He's doing well,” Brueggemann said. “We're probably going to Santa Anita with him if he comes out okay.”
Richard Papiese, principal of Midwest Thoroughbreds, has indicated that The Pizza Man's main objectives for 2016 are a title defense in Arlington International's Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million on Aug. 13 – an effort in which he defeated Eclipse Award winner Big Blue Kitten – and the aforementioned Breeders' Cup, in which he finished fifth.
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