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The Dark Horse

2014 American St. Leger - The Pizza Man takes the cheese!

The Pizza Man S&S 615 X 400
Photo: Four Footed Fotos
On Chicago’s biggest racing day of the year, local favorite horse The Pizza Man defeated the European horses and scores in the 2014 edition of the American St. Leger on Arlington Park’s Million day!
It’s no secret that the European-based horses tend to do better in turf races. In their annual invasion to Chicago, the European contingent such as Dandino, Moment In Time, Havana Beat, and Eye Of The Storm sure seemed to have the edge. Arlington’s lead notes reporter Michael Adolphson had been watching these shippers come in and work all week. He noted in his paddock preview that they sure seemed to have the edge as well.
Then along comes The Pizza Man. This five year old gelding by English Channel is a lot better and deserves more credit than he received before the race. Winning his fifth race in a row now, he had previously put together separate winning streaks of three and four in a row. Now a twelve-time winner, The Pizza Man not only has a graded stake under his saddle (the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes) but now he also has a Million-Day victory. Back to the pedigree for a moment, sure we know how English Channel’s are on grass, but The Pizza Man’s damsire, Lear Fan, ran in Europe, participated in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and hit the board in 7 of 8 lifetime races. So to me it’s no surprise that The Pizza Man gets it done on the lawn, and with some class!
Run at the extremely normal every-day distance of 1 11/16 miles, Big Kick under local jockey James Graham got out to a very early lead and for the first mile was ahead by 5 lengths. However fractions like :49 flat and 1:13 flat are a bit speedy for a marathon-style race like this. As you can expect, Big Kick didn’t have what it took to last. “He just stopped at the 5/8 pole, but he was never in a good rhythm with me. It just wasn’t his day, the ground was a little on the soft side,” noted Graham.
Euro-horse Eye Of The Storm was close up throughout the race, challenged The Pizza Man towards the end, but dropped to 5th. Then there was the champ. The Pizza Man was never too far out of range from the leader. He held second the entire race, never letting the pace-setter out of his sights. Jockey Florent Geroux kept the horse very relaxed until they entered the third turn. With the push of the button, The Pizza Man was gone, fended off any challenges, and won by a length.
Last year's St. Leger champion, Dandino, finished second while coming from the middle of the pack. Frankie Dettori noted, “I had the perfect race. Turning in I thought we would win, but (The Pizza Man) never stopped. He ran really hard to the line. He’s coming back to form, now.”
Winning rider Geroux said about the race, “Yes I was sitting in a stalking position, I wasn’t worried, I saw his past races and was waiting for him to tell me when to go.”
(The Pizza Man! - photo by Nicolle Neulist)
The Pizza Man paid $12.60 to win for victorious connections trainer Roger Bruggemann and owners Midwest Thoroughbreds (Richard & Karen Papiese). And while he was at it, The Pizza Man also set the track record running the mile and 11/16 in 2:47 2/5! The previous record was 2:49 flat.  


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 (Whoa - it's me - the DARK HORSE)
Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
While finishing school in Chicago, I spent every possible moment at Arlington Park with my dad.  We took the time to develop computer programs (on the ever popular Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS) to try to find patterns and handicap races more accurately.  My dad taught me a lot about handicapping races, paying particular attention to class moves!

Since then, I have become more involved with horse racing each passing year through a variety of different media-based roles. Once deemed the "second best racing ambassador in Chicago" (hey I've been called worse), 
I now reside in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the USA and will be covering many different aspects of racing - in my unpredictable DARK HORSE STYLE!  
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Kentucky Downs

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And here are all of the tracks I have visited in person!

This blog is eternally dedicated to the memory of Tim "Tiznow" Reynolds.

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