December 2, 2023

Pizza Bianca preps for Royal Ascot in Hilltop

Jose Ortiz celebrates as Pizza Bianca gets up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar (Photo by

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) star Pizza Bianca spices up Friday’s card at Pimlico, with the $100,000 Hilltop S. serving as her stepping stone to Royal Ascot. The other turf stakes on Black-Eyed Susan Day is the $100,000 The Very One S. for distaff sprinters.

Hilltop S. – Race 9

Pizza Bianca is targeting the Coronation S. (G1) over Ascot’s round mile course, and the Hilltop is also a one-mile affair. The Christophe Clement pupil beat some high-profile internationals in the Breeders’ Cup, notably Cachet, who’s since won the 1000 Guineas (G1) and just missed a classic double in Sunday’s equivalent at Longchamp.

Although Pizza Bianca was upset in her reappearance in the April 24 Memories of Silver S. at Aqueduct, the slow pace in a small field worked against her. The daughter of Fastnet Rock was outsprinted late by a smart rival in Consumer Spending, who was turning the tables from her Breeders’ Cup sixth.

Clement has also entered Diamond Hands, last seen breaking her maiden at Belmont Park Nov. 7. Interestingly, she had placed in her prior start to Haughty, the third in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The Graham Motion-trained Vergara sports a 2-for-2 record in turf routes, including the Nov. 28 Tepin S. at Aqueduct. She turned in her only disappointing effort when trying Tapeta in the April 2 Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park, winding up eighth, but promises to be happier back on the lawn.

Rounding out the field are Hail To, unplaced in last fall’s Miss Grillo (G2) and the April 2 Sanibel Island S.; Murph, winner of a non-black-type event on the Delaware Park dirt; Gulfstream Park shipper Lady Puchi; and the Phil Schoenthal duo of Determined Star and maiden Determined Gold.

The Very One S. – Race 11

Clement is represented by Honey Pants in the five-furlong The Very One. The multiple stakes-placed filly just rolled in a dash over the same trip at Gulfstream. Phantom Vision, who beat Honey Pants on Gulfstream’s Tapeta two back, was subsequently eighth in the Giant’s Causeway S. at Keeneland.

Payntdembluesaway, successful in her division’s Claiming Crown race at Gulfstream, exits a convincing win in the Lightning City S. at Tampa Bay Downs. Adelaide Miss is intriguing on the cutback, considering her proven stakes quality and affinity for the Pimlico course.

Can the Queen, most recently fourth versus males in the April 23 King T. Leatherbury S., captured the July 24 Sensible Lady Turf Dash at this track and trip. Dendrobia, runner-up in the course-and-distance Jameela S. last summer, has been fifth and 10th, respectively, in the 2020 and 2021 editions of this race. Spun Glass, sixth in the Jameela, is still on the hunt for black-type.

Maryland Million Ladies winner Epic Idea returns over a much shorter distance for Michael Merryman, who also has Whispurring Kitten taking a class hike. Door Buster ships in from Charles Town, stakes-winning dirt sprinter Princess Kokachin tries to take her game to the lawn, while multiple Parx stakes scorer Hey Mamaluke is listed as main-track-only.