01/05/2017 2:46PM

2016 Eclipse Awards: Lane Luzzi


When Lane Luzzi told his father, a winner of more than 3,400 races, that he wanted to be a jockey, Mike Luzzi helped by placing him with some excellent instructors. Before heading to classes at Floral Park Memorial High School, Lane would gallop horses at Belmont Park for the likes of Kiaran McLaughlin, Mike Maker, and Joe Sharp.

When Lane was ready to begin his career in November 2015, he headed to Maryland, where his father had started out. Trainer Lacey Gaudet and her family assisted him, just as Lacey’s parents, Eddie and Linda Gaudet, had mentored Mike Luzzi early in his career.

In June, Luzzi moved from Maryland to Florida, where he has settled in well with jockey agent Walter Blum Jr. Despite missing six weeks with a broken collarbone soon after arriving in Florida, Luzzi won 88 races in 2016, including three Florida stakes for trainer Patrick Biancone. His mounts have earned purses of $2.22 million.

“The time I was away with the injury was a time of frustration for me,” said Luzzi, 19. “When I got started back up, it went well. We got more and more rides. I’ve approached things differently since I came back. I’m trying to be aggressive but stay safe, too.”

If Lane is voted the leading apprentice rider of 2016, Mike and Lane Luzzi will be the first father and son to win the award since the Eclipse Awards were founded in 1971. Mike Luzzi was the leading apprentice of 1989.

“It would be great to win, but I’ve really done the best I can, and if I win it or not, it’s been a very good year,” said Lane Luzzi, who at 5-foot-3 can tack 104 pounds. “I am more focused on building my career, on setting a foundation where I can have a successful career.”’

Luzzi, whose apprenticeship will end in February, said he is much more comfortable during a race now than when he first began riding.

“It’s crazy, I see things so much differently now than when I started,” he said. “I still learn something every race but I am much more confident, and more focused.”