Pizza Bianca Punches Ticket to Royal Ascot


Photo: Anika Miskar
Pizza Bianca wins the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Race Course

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay made his first visit to Royal Ascot in 2011 when he ran Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2T) winner More Than Real in the Coronation Stakes (G1) at the legendary English racecourse.

His filly ran 11th that day but Flay still has some vivid memories of the experience—and the top hat he wore that.

"She didn't run well that day. It was a very boggy racecourse but it doesn't matter. It was an amazing experience," Flay said. "I always say these horses can bring you on wonderful experiences and for me that's what it's all about."

Flay figures to be making a return trip to Royal Ascot next month, this time with a winner of the grade 1 Juvenile Fillies Turf, as his homebred 3-year-old filly Pizza Bianca  registered a 1 3/4-length victory May 20 in the grassy $100,000 Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Race Course to punch her ticket overseas for the June 17 Coronation, a group 1 test for 3-year-old fillies at a mile.

The victory in the Hilltop came after Pizza Bianca opened her 3-year-old campaign for trainer Christophe Clement April 24 with a second in the Memories of Silver Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Sign up for

"She had five months off," Flay said about his Fastnet Rock  filly's last start. "You just don't turn a switch on these horses. She had a huge performance in the Breeders' Cup and Christophe wanted to give her the winter off and bring her back slowly. (The Memories of Silver) wasn't about winning, it was just getting her legs under her. This one was to sharpen her up because we're now four weeks out from (the Coronation)."

In mapping out plans for the daughter of the Galileo mare White Hot, the Coronation received the nod over the July 9 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park, the opening leg of the New York Racing Association's Turf Triple for 3-year-old fillies.

"I'm a native New Yorker. Those races are fantastic. I love that NYRA has that sort of Triple Tiara for turf fillies. We needed them and they are important," Flay said. "But there's three of them and we'll skip the first one to go hang out with The Queen."

Having a stylish top hat comes in handy, too.

"It's a vintage top hat," Flay said. "You know you have to amortize these things over your lifetime."

The homebred Pizza Bianca is the first of three foals from White Hot, who also has a yearling Uncle Mo   colt and dropped a Not This Time   colt March 11.

"It looks up from here with her," Flay said about the dam.

Robert Masiello and Steven Rocco's Diamond Hands , a Frosted   filly trained by Clement, was second by a head over Gary Broad's Vergara , a daughter of Noble Mission  trained by Graham Motion.

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Pizza Bianca ($2.80) covered the mile in 1:36.54 in the stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Can the Queen Springs Front-Running Upset in The Very One

Joanne Shankle's Can the Queen , based down the road at Laurel Park, went all the way on the lead and held on to defeated favored Honey Pants  by 1 1/2 lengths in the $100,000 The Very One Stakes for older fillies and mares on the turf.

Can the Queen winning The Very One Stakes at Pimlico on 5-20-22
Photo: Anika Miskar
Can the Queen wins The Very One Stakes at Pimlico Race Course

It was the second win of the day for local jockey Victor Carrasco, riding for trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon, and second career stakes win for Can the Queen ($15.60) following her score in the the Sensible Lady Turf Dash Stakes last July over the same Pimlico turf course.

"(Can the Queen) was running awesome," said Carrasco. "I didn’t even have to send her much to get into that position. I knew as soon as I said, 'Go,' that she was going to be there for me. And she was. She was pretty relaxed the first part. I knew she was doing too good and that she was going to have something left. When I said, 'Go,' she was gone."

The 6-year-old daughter of Can the Man  raced the five furlongs on course rated as firm in :57.09.

Carrasco wasted no time getting Can the Queen to the front, and the Maryland-bred mare blazed through an opening quarter-mile in :22.11 and a half-mile in :45.22. Honey Pants, who had raced off the pace during the early going, had no room to run at the top of the lane but was able to split horses late, her bid falling short of reeling in the winner. 

"(Honey Pants) was a little bit farther back than we expected," said Christophe Loreil, assistant trainer to Christophe Clement. "She broke good, then it looked like she was a bit taken for speed early on. Around the turn she came back, but she had to circle around and go inside and outside. At the sixteenth pole, I thought we could get there, but the other one was already gone. But she ran a decent race." 

Honey Pants was a length better than Whispurring Kitten  in third.

Bred by Carol Ann Kaye, Can the Queen has earned $243,853 and sports a record of 6-0-1 from 16 career starts.

"(Can the Queen) has been training really well," said Sanchez-Salomon. "We’ve been patient with her. She's like a baby to us. I ran her against the boys last time and she ran a huge race. My jockey said, 'The next time, we can't lose against the fillies. Let’s try it.'"  

Can the Queen is out of the Empire Maker mare Queenterra, who has produced four winners from four starters.

Video: Hilltop S. (BT)

Video: The Very One S. (BT)