Jockey Journals — Lane Luzzi

Jockey Journals

Lane Luzzi

December 29, 2015

 

He might be 18 years old but Lane Luzzi already has a lifetime of experience  in racing that has prepared him for this moment. Having just launched his career as a rider in Maryland, Luzzi is off to a fast start. He has won more than half a dozen races from his first 44 mounts. 

Luzzi was perhaps more prepared than most for his debut in the saddle thanks to being able to shadow his father Mike, a longtime rider in the Mid-Atlantic and New York. A winner of 3,425 races, Mike’s resume includes in-the-money finishes in the Preakness (Badge, 1999) and Breeders’ Cup (Shake You Down, 2003 and House of Grace, 2009), and he started his career in Maryland by capturing the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in 1989. It should come as no surprise then that his son has set his sights on similar targets, specifically an Eclipse Award. 

Luzzi enters the winner's circle after a race at Laurel Park.
Luzzi enters the winner’s circle after a race at Laurel Park.

In this edition of Jockey Journals, Lane Luzzi writes about his goals in racing, what it was like growing up around the sport and how he’s made the transition from being the son of a jockey to becoming a rider himself. 

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My name is Lane Luzzi and I was born and raised a quarter mile away from Belmont Park in a town called Floral Park. Horse racing has ran in my family for generations, so it is safe to say that this game is in my blood. My great grandfather is Buddy Raines, who is considered a legendary trainer amongst many in the industry and my uncle was a jockey. However, my main role model and inspiration to be a jockey is my father Mike. My dad has been riding for 26 years and has won over 3,400 races. He, like myself, started in Maryland. Some of his accomplishments are winning the Eclipse Award for Apprentice Jockey and winning over $100-million in purses.

I’ve wanted to be a jockey my entire life. There was never a moment where I’ve ever wanted to do anything else. When I was young I used to go to the track with my dad on Saturdays and Sundays and hang out in the jockeys room all day. In there, I discovered the Equicizer. The Equicizer has made a world of difference on how I feel on a horse. I never actually rode a horse until I was 15, so the Equicizer in the jockeys room was all I had to build up the correct muscles and work on my form.

A younger Lane dressed up as a jockey, the only job he has ever been interest in.
A younger Lane dressed in jockey silks. He says being a jockey is all he has ever wanted.

The first horse I ever rode was a horse named Tucker. He was a quarter horse owned by trainer Abigail Adsit. I rode him for a good year, once a week on Saturdays when I didn’t have school. It was a bit of a tease getting on one horse once a week, but it was better than nothing, for sure. It was then that I met Joe Sharp, who at the time was the assistant for Michael Maker. Joe hired me to gallop but at the same time he was also teaching me the basics on how to ride. By the end of summer 2014 I had improved so much. I then took a job with Kiaran McLaughlin when I went back to Belmont for the fall. Over at his barn I had the opportunity to ride some of the most talented and well bred horses in the world such as Classy Class, Light The City, Mohaymen, Ocean Knight, Sallisaw, Sentiero Italia, Tamarkuz and Rachel Alexandra’s full sister Samantha Nicole. I had the time of my life working over there.

I don’t have many pre-race rituals or routines. I ride the Equicizer in the jockeys room just to stretch and work on different things. I also read the Racing Form and come up with a Plan A, B, C and D. It’s important to come up with a few ideas of what may shape up in a race. For example, if my horse likes to sit off the lead but the main speed horse gets left at the gate you have to go to one of your other plans, because maybe your horse doesn’t want to be or doesn’t run as well on the front end. There are many different scenarios in which you must adjust to every day and race as a jockey. I eat, breathe and sleep horse racing. There is very little time to go out and do other things. So when I do get free time I love to watch other tracks and see how those riders ride. I like to watch one jockey for the whole day and I see what I like from him or her, and maybe point out something I’d do differently that could make the difference between losing or winning by a nose.

Luzzi working a horse in the morning.
Luzzi working a horse in the morning.

The recent success has been great. Up until this point, I’ve ridden 44 races and have 7 victories. Of those 44 races I have also been in the money 22 times (50%). Winning has been enjoyable but, from knowing this game my whole life, the success will not always come easy. As easy as it comes, it can go away just as fast. So, for right now I’m working hard, enjoying myself and just trying to be the best rider I can be on and off the racetrack. My agent, Scott Silver, and I work very hard together everyday trying to get on more and more horses.

Luzzi after a race at Laurel Park.  Photo courtesy: Dotte Miller
Luzzi after a race at Laurel Park.
Photo courtesy: Dotte Miller

We started off riding one or two on race days, now I find myself riding close to the whole card, if not every race. My first win came on a horse named Flo’s Strawberry for Jamie Ness and Midwest Thoroughbreds. It was an exciting day but looking back there are a few things I would have done differently that will stay with me forever. I rode another horse named Ready It that same day and she ended up winning too! It really didn’t hit me that I had won anything until I won that second race.

I’d love to follow in my dad’s footsteps and win the Eclipse Award for Apprentice Jockey. I’m not going to put tons of pressure on myself but if I keep working hard like I am and keep myself with the right people and horses, the sky is the limit. Most importantly my biggest goal is to make a career out of this. You see riders come and go like the wind these days. I don’t want that to be me. I want to be remembered as a jockey who rode competitively for numerous years and skilled his craft to the best of his ability.

Luzzi aboard Belle Allessandra in the Laurel Park winner's circle for trainer Kieron Magee on Sunday, December 27.  Photo courtesy: Dottie Miller
Luzzi aboard Belle Allessandra in the Laurel Park winner’s circle for trainer Kieron Magee on Sunday, December 27.
Photo courtesy: Dottie Miller
I think the term “jockey” is used too lightly. In my eyes the “jockeys” are the guys who have worked hard for a long time and have done everything in their power to get the best out of every horse they have ever ridden. Someone who has made it back to the saddle despite painful injuries and someone who has stuck it out when business was tough to come by. Someone that reminds me of that is my father. To me, that is what a real jockey really is. I want to be one of those.

  

This Jockey Journal entirely reflects the words and thoughts of Lane Luzzi. The text was written by Luzzi and lightly edited for clarity. We thank Luzzi for taking the time to share his story on Jockey Journals. You can follow him on Twitter @LaneJLuzzi

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