Luzzi, Open Toe rally to victory in Hilltop Stakes

June 01, 1993|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Staff Writer

Although he is the second-leading jockey at Pimlico, Michael Luzzi yesterday showed his ability to sneak up on the competition.

In the 21st running of the $54,950 Hilltop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Luzzi rode Open Toe to a late surge in the stretch for the win. It was Open Toe's first start on turf.

"I had plenty of horse left," said Luzzi, 23, who took Open Toe outside of Exotic Sea in the final furlong. "She handled the turf real well. I didn't ask for much, [and] she pretty much did it on her own."

Open Toe finished the 1 1/16-mile course in 1 minute, 42 2/5 seconds on the firm turf. That time was two seconds off the course record set by Air Attack in 1991.

Open Toe has won three of her past four, including her past two under Luzzi.

"We thought she would do well on grass," said Open Toe's assistant trainer, Clark Cassidy. "[Trainer] Jim Murphy has high hopes for this filly. Considering the time for this race, I think Open Toe has a future on grass. She could be a versatile horse."

Open Toe, the daughter of Proud Truth, earned $32,970, which more than doubles her career earnings.

Luzzi, who is second behind recently injured Edgar Prado in wins with 46 this meet, also rode Maryland-bred Root Boy to victory with a late run in the race preceding the Hilltop.

Misspitch, the Hilltop pre-race favorite, after placing third at the Bal Harbour Stakes at Hialeah Park on April 10, finished on the losing end of a photo finish for third place.

Misspitch had the most race experience on turf in the field and had a 1 1/2 -month layoff. But she ran to her worst finish in seven starts dating to last November.

Exotic Sea finished second, and Perkins Star edged Misspitch for third place. Perkins Star led the race from the first turn to the mile mark.

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