11/11/2015 10:42AM

Lane Luzzi tracing father's beginnings

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Lane Luzzi has wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as a jockey for many years. On Wednesday, he realized that dream by riding Blimey to a third-place finish in the fifth race at Laurel Park.

As the son of longtime New York rider Mike Luzzi, a winner of more than 3,400 races, Luzzi grew up a half-mile from Belmont Park. In June, he graduated from Floral Park Memorial High School, directly across Plainfield Ave. from the track. During his senior year, he would exercise “six or seven horses” in the morning and then start classes at 10:15 a.m.

“I never said anything about it until my sophomore year in high school, but being a rider is always something I’ve wanted to do,” Luzzi said. “When I told my dad I was serious about wanting to ride horses, he wasn’t really surprised, but up until then he kind of figured I was going to college.”

Mike Luzzi started out in Maryland himself, and was named the Eclipse Award-winning apprentice of 1989, no small feat as that same class included bug boys Joe Bravo, Garrett Gomez, and Corey Nakatani. Mike Luzzi said Eddie and Linda Gaudet were “mentors” early in his career. Lane Luzzi’s Wednesday mount is aboard Blimey, who is trained by the Gaudets' daughter, Lacey Gaudet.

Lane Luzzi grew up accompanying his father to the track. As his father says, “he knows the routine.”

“I grew up going to the jocks’ room with my dad,” Luzzi said. “I’d get on the Equicizer and just go for hours, this was when I was 9 or 10, and people would come up and say I looked pretty good.”

Mike Luzzi is supportive of his son’s career choice and has tried to help him along. “I’m actually nervous, but we’re real proud of him,” he said. “It’s one of those professions you have to figure some things out on your own. I tried to place him with the right people.”

Lane Luzzi exercised horses for Mike Maker, when Joe Sharp was his assistant. He has since worked for Sharp’s stable and Kiaran McLaughlin, who put him aboard a number of promising runners. “I had a chance to get on some fantastic horses, and that’s how you learn,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

Luzzi stands 5-foot-3 – the same as his father – and weighs 104 pounds. He says “he feels ready” for his first race, “but that it probably won’t hit me that I’m in a race until I’m going down the backstretch.”

Scott Silver is Lane Luzzi’s agent. Silver also books mounts for the journeymen Trevor McCarthy and Nik Juarez, both of whose fathers also were jockeys.

“Scott’s been taking me all over introducing me to people,” Luzzi said. “I’ve been going to Laurel mostly. I worked a horse at Pimlico two days ago for Kieron Magee. I was at Fair Hill last week. I’ve been getting on quite a few for Tim Keefe, Gary Capuano, and Jose Corrales. I have Lacey to thank for my first mount.”

Maryland has always been a hotbed for young riders, and seven apprentices rode at Laurel last weekend.

“I decided to start out in Maryland because they treat bug riders good there,” Luzzi said. “You can ride at Laurel and then go to Penn National at night, and Parx on Mondays and Tuesdays.”

Silver isn’t going to rush Luzzi, and said he’d be pleased if he rode his fifth winner sometime around the first of the year, which would begin his yearlong apprenticeship in earnest.