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The Pizza Man Delivers as Favorite in Charles Springer Memorial Illinois Owners Stakes

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/21/2013 #
  • The Pizza Man gets through along the rail to win the Illinois Owners Stakes. (photo by Four Footed Fotos)

Midwest Thoroughbreds' The Pizza Man found a running lane late in the stretch to register a neck victory over Mr. Vegas in Saturday's $66,500 Illinois Owners Stakes Charles Springer Memorial at one mile on the Arlington International turf course.

Racing near the tail of the field behind fractions of :24.39, :48.05, and 1:12.11, The Pizza Man began inching towards the leaders into and around the far turn before finding running room along the rail inside the final sixteenth to get up in the final jumps, completing the trip over a course officially rated “good” in 1:37.16

“It’s always nice to ride a good grass horse here at Arlington,” said winning rider James Graham. “Last year he was phenomenal. He showed his liking for it back then.  He’s run on ‘soft’; he’s run on ‘yielding’; he’s run on ‘firm’.  He could run on any grass course, I don’t think it would bother him.  He showed he liked it ‘soft’ again today.”

Trained by Tom Amoss, The Pizza Man ($4.20, $3.40, $2.40) registered his fifth win over the Arlington lawn and eighth win in 13 starts overall while boosting his career bankroll to $319,279 with the $39,102 winner's share.

Mr. Vegas ($7.40, $4.80), owned by Andrews T and S Racing and trained by Richie Scherer, tracked the early pace set by Nates Mineshaft and assumed command of the lead in mid-stretch before just getting out-gamed at the wire to finish a clear second.

“A little bit of an early move on the backside and a little bit early pressure; I think that was the difference.  He definitely was breathing fire and he tried to win really bad, that’s for sure.  He’s going to sleep well tonight; he laid himself down,” said jockey Kent Desormeaux.

Sweet Luca ($5.20), trained by Chris Block for Fortino, Inc. made a menacing move off the far turn but could not sustain his rally in deep stretch, crossing the wire third. Rider Eduardo Perez said, “I had a good trip and my horse tried really hard. We just got beat by the best horse.”

Warbird, Tazz, All Stormy, and Nates Mineshaft completed the order of finish.