Leg in Cast, Luzzi Returns to Saratoga

(from Saratoga track notes)
Jockey Mike Luzzi, saying he hopes to be riding by the opening of the Belmont Park fall meeting Sept. 10, returned to the Saratoga jockeys' room Wednesday morning for the first time since he suffered a broken femur on opening day at Saratoga.

Luzzi was greeted by open arms, laughs and smiles from New York Racing Association clerk of scales Mario Sclafani and assistant clerk of scales and Hall of Fame jockey Braulio Baeza, as well as members of the jockey colony.

Luzzi broke his upper right thigh after ejecting from Honey Fritters, who bolted in the first race of Saratoga's 134th meet. Dr. Richard Alfred, an orthopedic surgeon who has worked on other jockeys in the past, placed a rod and two screws to the upper-thigh bone of Luzzi's leg.

"That's a rider's new cast," Luzzi said about the surgical procedure. "It was a clean break. It could have been worse. I'm very fortunate to be alive because anything can go wrong when you're riding a horse on the track. It's a dangerous game."

The 35-year-old rider from Wilmington, Del. has been in rehabilitation to heal the break and develop strength in his leg through a variety of exercises, including walking and cycling.

"I've been walking to compress the break, which makes it heal quicker," Luzzi said. "I've also been working on my muscles to keep them in shape. I got some good news this morning that I could be riding within 6-8 weeks since the accident."

Honey Fritter bolted to the outer rail while running into the first turn. Luzzi immediately jumped off the 3-year-old filly before he was about to collide with the outer rail.

"The buckles from my reigns became loose, then disconnected from the bit," Luzzi said. "I had no steering or brakes. She bolted to the outside and did it pretty fast. She was heading for the rail and I had to jump off. Unfortunately, I jumped off and landed the wrong way."

On July 15, 2001, Luzzi suffered a broken left ankle when his mount, Gold N Fancy, flipped in the starting gate at Belmont Park. That injury also forced him to miss the entire Saratoga season.