The Pizza Man could make history this year.
That’s not a restaurant reference. The Pizza Man, an 8-year-old American thoroughbred, headlines the field of 13 horses in the 35th running of the Arlington Million on Saturday at Arlington International Racecourse.
“He’s the home team,” said Howard Sudberry, the track’s senior director of marketing and communications.
The Pizza Man became the first Illinois-bred horse to win the Million in 2015, but he finished sixth last year. If he wins the race Saturday, he will become the first two-time winner since John Henry won for the second time in 1984. The Pizza Man has posted 10 of his 17 career wins at Arlington and has earned more than $2.1 million in his lifetime.
“He’s got a legion of fans in the area, so I think that Arlington would erupt if he was able to turn back the clock and win again,” Sudberry said. “It would really be monumental. Only Illinois-bred to win, to win it twice and to go into the record books with John Henry would be something pretty special.”
Aside from The Pizza Man, Divisidero and Beach Patrol headline the American-bred horses. Beach Patrol won last year’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes but has gone winless since.
But the favorite is Deauville, an Irish-bred 4-year-old colt who finished third in last year’s race, losing by a half-length. Deauville was a 7-2 favorite as of Wednesday morning.
“He’s a year older, a year more experienced,” Sudberry said. “He’s trained by Aidan O’Brien, who’s one of the top trainers in the world, and he looks like he’ll be a handful to handle.”
Officials expect more than 35,000 fans to attend the Million, which is scheduled to post at
6:19 p.m. The first race posts at 12:15, and there will be other events going on around the track, as well. Blackhawks anthem singer Jim Cornelison will sing the national anthem, and there will be live music and a best-dressed competition for fans.
The Cubs’ World Series trophy will be displayed, and Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts will present the new Million trophy to the owner, trainer and jockey of the winning horse.
“In celebration of world championships, which the Arlington Million is, we thought it would be appropriate if he would be kind enough to bring the World Series trophy to signify another world championship,” Sudberry said.
The new Million trophy was designed and built by Tiffany and Co. The trophy, which is 33 pounds and 30 inches tall, has an engraved list of the names of all the winners of the race, and a master engraver will be on site to engrave the name of the winner as soon as the race is complete.
Fans can purchase tickets and reserve seats at arlingtonpark.com.
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