Arlington Park news release
Contact: Michael Adolphson
THE PIZZA MAN DELIGHTS CROWD, DEFENDS STARS AND STRIPES TITLE; GEROUX WINS FOURTH OF THE DAY
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (July 11, 2015) – Midwest Thoroughbreds’ popular Illinois-bred The Pizza Man successfully defended his title in the Grade III $100,000 Stars and Stripes Saturday, powering through the stretch to thundering applause at Arlington International Racecourse on Million Preview Day.
The son of English Channel captured his first graded stakes win in last season’s Stars and Stripes before going on to win the Listed $400,000 American St. Leger in his next start, but his connections are aiming higher this year with a planned start in the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million next out.
Well-positioned throughout, The Pizza Man – under Florent Geroux – sliced between foes turning for home and served up a well-deserved victory after a stretch-long battle with pacesetter Roman Approval. Geroux notched his fourth win of the day in the process after completing a Pick-3 sweep from races 2-4.
“I think this horse is very good mentally. He’s a horse that can be anywhere during the race and he just knows where the wire is and that’s a big plus,” Geroux said. “I’m just trying to be a good passenger and stay out of his way and he does the rest.”
The Pizza Man won his ninth lifetime race on the Arlington turf course and his 14th overall from 22 career starts. With the winner’s share of $58,200, the Roger Brueggemann trainee has now amassed a career bankroll of $900,537. He returned $3.80, $2.80 and $2.40 as the odds-on favorite.
Three Diamonds Farm’s Roman Approval was game in defeat after setting splits of 25.56, 52.53, and 1:18.78 before just being overtaken in the final yards behind the winner who completed the 1 1/2 miles in 2:34.13. Roman Approval paid $4.80 and $4.60.
Julien Leparoux, who rode the runner-up for trainer Mike Maker, was encouraged by his charge’s effort. “We had a good race, we slowed it down a lot,” he said. “He came very nice at the end and fought back. The winner is a nice horse, but my horse ran a big race."
Mom Celine’s Calvados turned in a courageous effort in running third after steadying behind the runner-up throughout the stretch run before switching out and taking ground away from the top pair in the final yards, crossing the wire just a length behind the winner.
"I got a rough trip,” said rider Jose Lezcano. “With a decent trip, I could win the race. I got stopped at the eighth pole. He's a nice horse."
Trained by Ignacio Correas, IV, the 7-year-old Argentinian-bred runner returned $5.60 and as one of the top three finishers, earned a berth into the Grade III $350,000 American St. Leger on August 15 with entry and starting fees waived.
Xtra Luck, Mister Marti Gras, For Greater Glory, Three Hearts and Afortable completed the running order.
Arlington International Racecourse – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run a 77-day meet in 2015 from Friday, May 1 through Saturday, Sept. 26. Arlington International Racecourse, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates ten off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities in Arlington Heights, Aurora, Chicago, Waukegan, Villa Park, Rockford, South Elgin, Hodgkins, McHenry and Orland Hills. Arlington International Racecourse is a proud member of America’s Best Racing. Information on Arlington International Racecourse and Trackside OTB can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arlingtonpark and www.facebook.com/tracksideotb, and on Twitter at @Arlington_Park for the latest happenings, @arlingtonracing for the latest racing news and @tracksideotb for all things pertaining to off-track wagering.