09/21/2013 6:30PM

Arlington Park: The Pizza Man finds room on rail in Illinois Owners Stakes

Four-Footed Fotos
The Pizza Man (right) gets by Mr. Vegas for a neck win in the $66,500 Illinois Owners Stakes.

The Pizza Man is a full-bodied, scopey horse, far from the athletic type that zips through tight holes and accelerates on a dime, but he won the $66,500 Illinois Owners Stakes despite that fact. Forced to split horses in midstretch, then dive to the rail for a final move, The Pizza Man chugged along the fence and won the Owners Stakes by a neck over Mr. Vegas on Saturday at Arlington.

The Pizza Man, a Midwest Thoroughbreds homebred trained by Tom Amoss, won for the eighth time in 13 starts, and he has been nearly unbeatable in competition with Illinois restrictions. James Graham was riding The Pizza Man for the first time.

Nates Mineshaft was sent to the lead by E.T. Baird, coming through on the inside to wrest the lead from Mr. Vegas while running an opening half-mile in solid 48.05 seconds. But Mr. Vegas loomed along Nates Mineshaft at the three-eighths pole, pushing past and taking a lead into the homestretch. Meanwhile, The Pizza Man saved ground around the far turn under Graham but had no clear path to the wire when straightening away for the finish. Graham probed the outside, saw that was futile, and guided The Pizza Man to the fence, the bulky horse squeezing through while heartily roused to a winning kick.

Surprisingly heavily favored, The Pizza Pan paid just $4.20 to win and was timed in 1:37.16 for one mile on a drying-out turf labeled good. Sweet Luca rallied mildly for third and was followed by Warbird, Tazz, All Stormy, and Nates Mineshaft.

The Pizza Man is a son of English Channel and the veteran Illinois broodmare I Can Fan Fan.