Michael Burns

The Pizza Man Aims for Second Woodbine GI Win

Son of English Channel returns with sights set on second Canadian grade I win.

Fresh off an impressive effort in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Can-I) at Woodbine, 7-year-old The Pizza Man will seek back-to-back grade I scores, this time in $1 million Pattison Canadian International Oct. 16 at the Toronto racetrack.

Owned by Richard and Karen Papiese's Midwest Thoroughbreds and trained by Roger Brueggemann, The Pizza Man's victory in the 1 1/2-mile Northern Dancer Sept. 17 represented his 17th career win from 31 starts.

The Illinois-bred gelding is a multiple graded stakes winner, including a memorable triumph in last year's Arlington Million XXXIII (gr. IT).

Now he'll look to add to his impressive race résumé when he contests his second Canadian International. In 2014 he finished fourth, three lengths behind Hillstar, just one month after a fifth-place performance in the Northern Dancer.

The Pizza Man won this year's Northern Dancer by a hard-fought neck at 5-1 odds over Wake Forest.

"That Northern Dancer win made me smile," said Richard Papiese. "It was a great effort."

It's also one of many races that Papiese has witnessed over a career that has seen The Pizza Man's earnings mushroom to over $2 million and include several top-notch efforts.

"He's always been an honest horse," praised the successful owner. "You never know just how special they might become early on, but after we got him on turf, we knew that was where he was going to be at his best."

The son of English Channel  will look to be just that when he takes on a world-class field in the International.

He'll once again have the services of jockey Flavien Prat, who earned kudos from The Pizza Man's connections for his ride in the Northern Dancer.

"You look at what he's done in California," Papiese said. "He's not a good rider...he's an exceptional rider."

As for his horse's catchy name, Papiese offered some food for thought: "He has a white marking on his head that looks like a slice of pizza. That's why we went with the name."