LAUREL -- Mike Luzzi booted in five winners at Laurel Race Course yesterday, matching a career high and giving him the subtle boost of confidence he said he needed.
"I'd been off 10 days, so I was a little concerned," Luzzi said. "You lose some business and you wonder . . . but I feel good now. I'm sharp. The layoff did me some good."
Luzzi, 22, won his five races from nine mounts, taking the early Daily Double and four of the first six races. The program was his second since returning from a suspension.
While Luzzi was away, Edgar Prado pulled away on the lead in the Laurel jockeys' race.
Entering today's 11-race program, Luzzi has cut the margin to 99-86.
Prado may be the beneficiary of Luzzi's decision not to ride Silver Tango in today's $40,000-added Francis Scott Key Handicap. Luzzi will ride Absolutely Great, whose 3-for-3 record since coming to Maryland would be highly impressive if not compared with Silver Tango's. In 10 career races, Silver Tango has run in seven sprints and won them all while compiling an 8-for-10 record.
"Silver Tango might be better," said Luzzi, "but I had to ride for [trainer] Eddie [Gaudet]. He's been so good to me."
Gaudet, second-leading trainer at the meet behind King Leatherbury, has become Luzzi's greatest source of winners. Yesterday, Luzzi and Gaudet teamed to win the seventh race with Makin Money.
In the featured ninth race yesterday, Gala Goldilocks, ridden by Gregg McCarron, led all the way before desperately holding off a late run from Mymet.
Two races earlier, Pie In Your Eye, a son of Spend a Buck, made an auspicious debut. The 3-year-old gelding led through swift fractions before completing six furlongs in 1 minute, 10 3/5 seconds.
NOTES: Luzzi said he has won 5 races on a program "several times." . . . The Francis Scott Key Handicap serves as a local prep for potential starters in the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap on Feb. 15. . . . Only 9 races have been carded for tomorrow to lessen the overlap with the NFC championship game involving the Redskins. The final race should end at about 4 p.m., which coincides with the opening kickoff.