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Luzzi begins long road back
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Jockey Mike Luzzi will be out of action for at least eight weeks, and perhaps longer, after breaking his right leg in a spill Wednesday at Saratoga.
Luzzi underwent surgery Wednesday night, during which Dr. Richard Alfred inserted a rod and two screws into the leg. Luzzi, 34, was to be released from the Albany Medical Center Hospital on Friday and hoped to begin therapy in six to eight weeks.
Luzzi spent part of Thursday, re-learning how to walk on crutches. "I already know how to do that," said Luzzi, who on July 15, 2001, suffered a broken left ankle that forced him to miss the Saratoga meet.
Luzzi was injured when he was thrown from his mount, Honey Fritters, in Wednesday's first race. Honey Fritters bore out in the first turn and then the rein either broke or got disconnected from the bit, Luzzi said, which meant that Luzzi could not steer the horse.
The injury comes at the worst possible time for Luzzi, who finished the Belmont spring meet as the sixth-leading rider with 34 winners.
"I thought I'd have a pretty good meet," Luzzi said. "It's a big bummer. Career was going good. But, I'll be back - you can't get rid of me."
Luzzi's loss is a blow to trainer Bruce Levine, who rides Luzzi on almost everything.
"When he rides them you just have a lot of confidence," Levine said. "It's just a good relationship; it's a great comfort level."
Luzzi is the second jockey to be knocked out of the Saratoga meet. Last week, Jose Santos suffered a broken right arm and is expected to miss at least four weeks.
Lady Tak pointing to Ballerina
While trainer Steve Asmussen tries to win this year's Test Stakes with Dazzle Me, his 2003 Test winner, Lady Tak, is also on the grounds. Asmussen is pointing her to the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap Aug. 29.
Lady Tak is coming off a third-place finish in the $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder July 10. She was part of a hot early pace before giving way to Ema Bovary and Bear Fan.
"It was 100-and-who-knows-what [degrees] down there," Asmussen said. "I'd do it again for the shot at $500,000, but I'm definitely glad to have her back here where she belongs and where I have plenty of time to get her ready for the Ballerina."
Asmussen got the meet off to a good start saddling the 2-year-old first-time starter Royal Movement to victory on Wednesday. Asmussen, who ran sixth-place finisher Lunarpal in Thursday's Sanford, was uncertain where Royal Movement would run next, though he did not rule out the Grade 1 Hopeful on Aug. 21.
"We'll let him tell us what he needs to do next," Asmussen said. "If the Hopeful is his second start, he better be working with some good horses before that."
Why Britt's Jules is Jim Dandy-bound
Trainer Eric J. Guillot had already planned on coming to Saratoga to sell a Mt. Livermore yearling he owns in partnership at Fasig-Tipton's select sale, so he decided to bring along Britt's Jules, a 3-year-old he bought in June, to run in the $500,000 Jim Dandy on Aug. 8.
Guillot, who owns a large training facility, Southern Equine Stables, in Lafayette, La., worked Britt's Jules at Saratoga on Thursday. The gelding covered five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.88 over a muddy track.
Britt's Jules arrived in Saratoga six days after finishing second to Pollard's Vision in the Grade 3 Leonard Richards at Delaware Park on July 18. Guillot and his partner Mike Moreno privately bought Britt's Jules for $100,000 after he finished third in a small stakes at Louisiana Downs on June 5. Three weeks later, Guillot ran Britt's Jules in the Excalibur Stakes at Louisiana Downs and the gelding won the mile and 70-yard race by 6 3/4 lengths. The Excalibur was Britt's Jules's first start beyond seven furlongs.
In the 1 1/16-mile Leonard Richards, Britt's Jules set an uncontested pace for a mile before being overtaken by Pollard's Vision in the final yards and was beaten two lengths. Britt's Jules earned a career-best
102 Beyer Speed Figure in the Leonard Richards.
Britt's Jules had won three small sprint stakes at Delta Downs before Guillot bought the son of Jules, who originally sold for the bargain-basement price of $1,500 as a yearling at Keeneland. He has earned $199,898 from 14 lifetime starts.
Guillot said he bought Britt's Jules because "he came from a backyard operation, had the ability to sprint, and had the pedigree on his bottom side to go long. I knew I could [build] on that."
Guillot said Britt's Jules might be in over his head in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, which is expected to include graded winners, Medallist, Purge, and The Cliff's Edge.
"I thought maybe we could be third, but now I heard about more horses coming," Guillot said. "It looks like a tough jig all the way around. I'm not quite sure we belong."
Guy Smith, who has ridden Britt's Jules in his last three starts, will be replaced in the Jim Dandy. Guillot said he hopes to engage Edgar Prado or Robbie Albarado.
"I think if my horse could have relaxed at Delaware and set [slower fractions] we would have gone on to win," Guillot said. "Going out there suicide-like wasn't going to get it. I would like to have a more polished rider give him a chance to relax."
Artie Schiller to run here next
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens has scrapped plans to run Artie Schiller, one of the top 3-year-old grass runners in the country, in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park, and instead will run the colt in the Grade 2, $150,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes here on Aug. 9.
Artie Schiller finished second as the favorite behind Kitten's Joy in the Grade 3 Virginia Derby
at Colonial Downs on July 10.
The Virginia Derby was run at 1 1/4 miles, the same distance as the Secretariat.
"I didn't want to ship and the owners would like to run here," Jerkens said of the decision to remain at Saratoga. "I thought he ran good the other day. He didn't quite have that punch, but he was going farther. A mile and a quarter makes a lot of difference. You might not think it would, but it does."
In the 1 1/8-mile Hall of Fame, Artie Schiller will be seeking his third career stakes win. In the spring, Artie Schiller won the ungraded Woodlawn at Pimlico and followed with a win in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont on June 6.
- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson