12/04/2015 4:19PM

Apprentice Lane Luzzi wins first career race at Laurel

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Lane Luzzi displays the silks of number 1 Flo's Strawberry after winning his first race Friday.

Lane Luzzi, an 18-year-old apprentice rider, must have thought he was home free when his 6-year-old mare Flo’s Strawberry was five lengths in front at the eighth pole in Friday’s third race at Laurel Park. What he didn't realize was that Say a Hail Mary was flying on the outside under Trevor McCarthy.

Luzzi nearly cost himself his first professional victory when he eased up on his mount approaching the wire, but Flo’s Strawberry held off Say a Hail Mary to prevail by a nose in the $5,000 claiming race for fillies and mares.

It was the first win in 10 mounts for Luzzi, son of longtime New York-based rider Mike Luzzi, since he began riding as a 10-pound apprentice on Nov. 11. Fittingly, it was also the first win for Flo’s Strawberry ($17.20) since September 2012, ending a string of 34 straight losses.

"This is a dream come true," Luzzi said. "I've dreamed of this day my entire life."

When asked if he has  received advice from his father, a winner of more than 3,400 races and recipient of the Eclipse Award as top apprentice in 1989, Luzzi said, "Just ride hard, try to look good, and follow instructions the best I can."

Three hours after winning his first race, Luzzi scored again with the maiden Ready It ($12.20) in the 10th race.