FLORENCE, Ky., Dec. 29, 2012 – Luzianna Man ended his 3-year-old campaign a stakes winner Saturday at Turfway Park, dramatically splitting horses late in the stretch to catch the filly Yankee Union and take the $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes by a neck. Gung Ho closed to be third, 1 1/4 lengths farther back.
Luzianna Man was making just the fifth start of his career for owner Stonehaven Steadings and trainer Charlie Lopresti. Racing into blowing snow, he finished the six-furlong Holiday Cheer in 1:12.40.
Luzianna Man was well back as the lead changed at every point of call. Aly's Reward was out fast to mark the first quarter in :22.22 but was overtaken by Latent Rush, who led into the turn and set the half-mile in :46.14. Yankee Union, always close to the lead, made a bold, wide move to take over heading into the stretch and appeared home free until Luzianna Man burst through the crowd behind her to get the win.
"I was about seven lengths off the lead, but I expected to be closer," said winning rider Norberto Arroyo Jr. "I worked this horse a couple times so when we came out I expected him to pick up the bit like in the morning, but he didn't. He didn't want to respond to me, so I left him alone. Then when he went to his left lead around the turn, he turned into a different horse. I mean, he turned on the engine. I felt it in my knees. That's when I knew I had a good chance. This is a nice horse. He didn't put his complete, 100 percent effort into this race today."
"I thought he would be closer than he was but I don't think he handled the track down the backside," said Lopresti. "It took him a while to get going, and then when he got in gear he really took off. He's a lot better horse than he showed today. I like this horse a lot. He ran the first time out at Ellis (finishing third at a mile) and we really liked him. Then we ran him back at Keeneland going long (finishing off the board) and I just don't think he wants to run two turns. I think he wants to sprint. That's what I thought all along and it worked out fine today."
Silver Summation completed the superfecta. Behind him were Latent Rush, Jasizzle, Big Albert, the 2-1 favorite Ingenue, Midnight Medic, Aly's Reward, Lou's Angel, and Bella's Fella.
The bettors' fifth choice at 7-1, Luzianna Man paid $17.40, $7, and $4.
Asked about future plans for Luzianna Man, Lopresti said, "Just like Wise Dan (Lopresti's multiple Grade 1 winner), he’s going home to have the winter off. He’ll go to the farm and have maybe 45 to 60 days off and be ready in the spring again."
By El Corredor out of Suzanna Anna, by Tale of the Cat, Luzianna Man has two wins, a second, and a third in his five career starts for earnings of $72,497. He was bred by his owner.
Live racing at Turfway resumes Sunday and continues both New Year's Eve, featuring the Bootsy Collins New Year's Eve Funk Bash, and New Year's Day. Post time Sunday and January 1 is 1:10 p.m. Post time New Year’s Eve is 3:00 p.m.