Well-traveled The Pizza Man, the even-money favorite piloted by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, circled his opposition on the stretch turn with an impressive display of acceleration and cruised home a two-length winner of the featured Grade II $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup on Thanksgiving Thursday at Del Mar.
The Pizza Man, third behind Finnegans Wake in the same race a year ago, got the job done in stylish fashion to claim first money of $150,000 and push his earnings close to the $2 million mark, at $1,898,537, with his 16th triumph in 26 lifetime efforts.
Big John B, winner of the Del Mar Handicap last summer, was a creditable runner-up, a half-length in front of 50-1 longshot Power Foot, with Power Ped fourth in the field of 14 older horses.
The Pizza Man, hero of the Arlington Million last summer at Arlington Park in Chicago, ran the mile and one-half distance over Del Mar’s infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course in 2:31.75 and returned $4.20, $2.80 and $2.60. Big John B, who went postward at 4-1, returned $3.80 and $3.80, while Power Foot paid $13.20 to show.
The Pizza Man, a six-year-old gelded son of English Channel, is owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., nom de course of Richard and Karen Papiese of University, Illinois and conditioned by Roger Brueggemann.
On an afternoon dominated by favorites, there were 220 perfect tickets in the Pick Six and each paid $1,732.60. Total pool was $623,810 with $520,842 in “new” money bet Thursday and a carryover from last Sunday of $102,958.
Racing continues Friday featuring the $250,000 Seabiscuit Handicap with a first post time of 12:30 p.m.
MIKE SMITH (The Pizza Man, winner) – “That’s some stride on that horse I’ll tell you. They told me about his turn of foot, but it was sure good to feel it. We had a big field and that kept things honest. Everyone was riding their own horse instead of riding someone else’s. When the time came (to make his move), I was able to tip out and make my run. He was there, all there. The Pizza Man for Thanksgiving. I like it.”
RAFAEL BEJARANO (Big John B, second) – “I was far back, but very comfortable. He was going well. When we made our run, I followed the winner; I was right behind him and moving well. But he (The Pizza Man) was too good. He was much the best today.”
TIAGO PEREIRA (Power Foot, third) – “It was a good trip. He ran well for me.”
RICHARD PAPIESE, owner (The Pizza Man, winner) – “He was actually supposed to go to Japan after the Breeders’ Cup (fifth in the $3 million Turf) but he got a little lung infection. We were excited to go and represent American racing and racing in general, but coming to Del Mar is great. Same race as last year, different result. Mike let him run his race and when he gets to run his race he’s tough to beat. I was absolutely not worried about where he was during the race. Mike said he was going to be eight to 10 off of it and I said, ‘You’re going to love the afterburners when they kick in.’”
FRACTIONS: :25.05 :51.10 1:17.28 1:43.05 2:07.95 2:31.75
This was the second running of the Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar. Previously, it had been run 32 times at Hollywood Park.
This is the first stakes win of the meet for rider Smith, but his 56th overall stakes win at Del Mar, 11th best of all riders.
This is the first stakes win at Del Mar for trainer Roger Brueggemann. He was third with him in this same race last year.
The owner, Midwest Thoroughbreds, is the nom de course of Richard and Karen Papiese of University Park, IL.
Source: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club