01/06/2016 12:59PM

2015 Eclipse Awards: Midwest Thoroughbreds

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Richard and Karen Papiese may operate under the nom de course Midwest Thoroughbreds, but their runners have proven to be successful nationwide, helping them finish as Eclipse Award finalists as outstanding owner for a fifth consecutive year.

Since starting out in 2001, the residents of Dyer, Ind. have grown steadily from a small claiming outfit into a national-level competitor and breeder of elite runners, led in 2015 by Grade 1-winning homebred The Pizza Man.

The English Channel gelding became the first Illinois-bred to win the Arlington Million in August, cementing his status as a local legend after several starts in the Chicago area. The win also gave Midwest Thoroughbreds its second lifetime Grade 1 winner, following 2014 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Work All Week, who returned in 2015 to place in three graded stakes.

While based in Middle America, the Papieses cast a far-reaching net with their stable, earning meet titles at Canterbury Park, Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, and Tampa Bay Downs in 2015.

Their 217 wins led all North American owners for the sixth consecutive year, and they finished fourth by earnings with $5,427,367. In 2012, Midwest Thoroughbreds won 542 races, breaking the 38-year-old North American record established by Dan Lasater, who won 494 races in 1974.

In recent years, the Papieses have transitioned much of their operation to Thunder Ranch in Anthony, Fla., a layup farm and training center that they purchased in 2009.

Midwest Thoroughbreds earned its first Eclipse Award in 2014 with another homebred, champion sprinter Work All Week.