10/12/2013 7:17PM

Hawthorne: The Pizza Man's head hits wire first in Carey Memorial

Four-Footed Fotos
The Pizza Man, ridden by Francisco Torres, wins for the ninth time in 13 starts on turf in the Robert Carey Memorial Handicap.

The Pizza Man might not reside in the upper crust of the nation’s turf horses, but tossed in the right type of listed stakes or statebred restricted race, there is no topping him.

Early Saturday evening at Hawthorne, The Pizza Man won for the ninth time in 13 turf starts, running his Hawthorne grass record to 3 for 3 with a determined head victory over Tazz in the $75,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap.

Bred and owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc., The Pizza Man has a name that begs for wordplay: Even winning jockey Cisco Torres couldn’t resist. “The Pizza Man delivered again,” Torres punned after the Carey.

The delivery, though, required maximum exertion. With Mr. Vegas scratched from the Carey, Tazz was left as the race’s controlling speed, and under Rosemary Homeister Jr. he set comfortable splits of 24.86 seconds for his first quarter-mile, 50.20 for the half, and 1:14.71 for six furlongs. Torres, cognizant of the impending race shape, rode The Pizza Man out of the gate and placed him second, tracking Tazz and never letting the leader slip clear. The Pizza Man bid for the front after turning for home, but Tazz had plenty left, holding the challenger off until the final strides before finally giving way.

Homeister lodged a claim of foul, alleging interference in deep stretch, but Hawthorne stewards let the result stand.

Mister Marti Gras, disadvantaged by the slow pace, rallied from fifth to finish a distant third, almost five lengths behind Tazz. He was followed by Warbird -- who made a big move on the far turn before flattening out – Potomac River, Burn the Mortgage, Francois, and Soul Sacrifice.

The Pizza Man, an Illinois-bred 4-year-old son of English Channel-I Can Fan Fan, paid $5 to win as the narrow favorite, and was timed in 1:50.62 for 1 1/8 miles over good turf. Roger Brueggeman trains the winner, though trainer Tom Amoss had The Pizza Man in his stable through the gelding’s most recent start, a Sept. 21 win at Arlington.