Looking for a horse to replace the retired Ben's Cat in your heart? Look no further than the The Pizza Man. It's the patriotic thing to do. The strapping son of English Channel is eight-years-old, and despite a losing return to the races last month, I believe there are still plenty of good times ahead for fans of the big Illinois-bred.
Yes, he was fourth in the Black Tie Affair Handicap last time, but let's not forget that he was giving big weight, carrying 128 pounds, in his first race in seven months -- I didn't even realize they still asked horses to carry that much anymore. The winner of 17-of-34 also had absolutely no pace to rally into, after the first three-quarters were run in 1:16 and change. He lost by two lengths. You get the idea, The Pizza Man deserves another shot to prove he still has it.
And why not? the Roger Brueggemann-trained gelding was a Grade 1 winner just last September, when he scored in Woodbine's Northern Dancer. It was his 12th career stakes win, and pushed him over the $2 million mark in earnings. Yes, racefans, it's been good to be a fan of The Pizza Man over the years.
It's not too late to jump on the fanwagon. The Pizza Man's next start will come in the familiar Grade 3 Stars and Stripes on July 8 at Arlington Park. The 12-furlong grass race is one in which he has plenty of history. In fact, Saturday will be the fifth consecutive year that the Midwest Thoroughbreds' star competes in the patriotic race. It's all very Ben's Cat like.
After finishing third back in 2013, The Pizza Man rattled off a pair of Stars and Stripes victories the next two years. Unfortunately, he could not complete the three-peat last year, when he finished fourth in a wild four-horse photo. Rooting for him in the 2017 edition will be as American as hot dogs and apple pie.
Let's nor forget, his second win in the Stars and Stripes came one month prior to his biggest career victory, when he became the first and only Illinois-bred to win the Grade 1 Arlington Million. The 2015 edition of the Million is one that fans of The Pizza Man will savor forever.