The Pizza Man - Breeders' Cup 2015

The Pizza Man - Breeders' Cup 2015

Chad B. Harmon

The Pizza Man Tops Wise Dan

Arlington Million (gr. IT) winner faces 10 at Churchill Downs.

The Pizza Man, one of the most popular horses in training, returns to action June 18 as the likely choice in Churchill Downs' Wise Dan Stakes (gr. IIT). The $200,000 Wise Dan, formerly the Firecracker, is one of five graded stakes on the night program, and will go as race 7 with an approximate post time of 9:05 p.m.

Versatility is a virtue, and The Pizza Man has all that. Winner of last year's 12-furlong Stars and Stripes Stakes (gr. IIIT), 10-furlong Arlington Million (gr. IT), and just missing in Keeneland's Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT), The Pizza Man is in his wheelhouse at 1 1/16 miles, the Wise Dan trip. He's 8-1-0 in 10 lifetime starts at the distance.

Bred and raced by Richard and Karen Papiese's Midwest Thoroughbreds, The Pizza Man was fifth in his first 2016 outing back in early February in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT). A year ago he kicked off his campaign with a win in Churchill Downs' Opening Verse Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

This year's Opening Verse winner, Thatcher Street, will break just to The Pizza Man's inside while in post 1. The 5-year-old gelding by Street Sense  is 3-2-0 in five Churchill turf outings and has three stakes placings to go along with the win on May 21. Randall Bloch and John Seiler, who share ownership of Thatcher Street with Phil Milner and Fred Merritt's Amtietam, had success on last year's program, taking the Matt Winn Stakes (gr. II) with Island Town.

Trainer Mark Casse, who sent out Tepin to win Royal Ascot's Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) June 14, will be represented by a pair in the Wise Dan. Conquest Stables' Conquest Typhoon, an allowance optional claiming winner at Gulfstream in March, but has struggled a bit in high-end stakes company. At 2 the Stormy Atlantic colt won the grade III Cecil B. Demille Stakes over Del Mar's turf and was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IT).

Casse also trains Za Approval, an 8-year-old Ghostzapper gelding who actually ran behind Wise Dan three times in grade I events in 2013 and 2014. He faded after setting the pace in the May 21 Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico in his seasonal bow and figures to move forward off that effort.

Diane Perkins' Kasaqui, trained by Ignacio Correas, seeks to bounce back after falling in the May 7 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT). The Argentina-bred gelding won over the Keeneland turf back in April.

Morton Fink's Wise Dan, the two-time Horse of the Year, won the Firecracker in 2011 and 2013. The retired gelding will be paraded in the paddock with the horses for the race and will remain there while the race is being run.

Entries: Wise Dan S. (G2T)

Churchill Downs, Saturday, June 18, 2016, Race 7

  • Grade IIT
  • 1 1/16m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 9:05 PM (local)
11Thatcher Street (KY)Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.121Ian R. Wilkes8/1
22The Pizza Man (IL)Florent Geroux123Roger A. Brueggemann6/5
33Granny's Kitten (PA)Gary L. Stevens121Michael J. Maker12/1
44Flatlined (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMiguel Mena121Charles L. Dickey15/1
55Conquest Typhoon (ON)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoe Bravo121Mark E. Casse6/1
66Potomac River (KY)Juan P. Vargas121Jose L. Lopez15/1
77R. Great Adventure (KY)Joseph Rocco, Jr.121Brian Williamson15/1
88Pleuven (FR)Channing Hill121Philip A. Sims8/1
99Za Approval (KY)Julien R. Leparoux121Mark E. Casse8/1
1010Kasaqui (ARG)Robby Albarado121Ignacio Correas, IV12/1
1111Behesht (FR)Corey J. Lanerie121George R. Arnold, II20/1