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Luke the Great comes through for county

Luke the Great proved to be the standard-bearer for Hernando County horse racing Sunday, winning a 6-furlong allowance at Tampa Bay Downs before two other local entrants failed to place in the Tampa Bay Derby and Florida Oaks.

Luke the Great, a 9-year-old son of Great Above, won for Brooksville's Al Luccarelli when a steward's inquiry after a bumping incident down the stretch dropped Sturmovik to third and placed Rich in Dallas second.

The decision evened the score for Luccarelli, who saw Luke the Great moved down to second in a $12,500 claiming race on Jan. 28 at Tampa Bay Downs because of a bump against another horse.

"Luke had kind of bumped him, but it was an incident where his stride was not interrupted," said Luccarelli, 75. "That's the way it goes, I guess. Now it came back and balanced out."

Luke the Great won for the first time in more than a year Sunday in the $13,000 allowance for 4-year-olds and up. He was ridden by Juan Umana.

Luke the Great has six victories, 12 seconds and seven thirds in 53 career starts, with earnings of $96,971.

Luccarelli _ with his wife, Marjorie _ owns Almar Farm in Brooksville and 18 horses, 12-14 of which he races.

Two of his better horses are fillies racing in Miami.

Samantha the Great, a 5-year-old named after Luccarelli's golden retriever (which was named after Elizabeth Montgomery's character on the television show Bewitched), is scheduled to run Friday in the Hialeah meet, Luccarelli said.

Petrina Above, 6, named after his late sister, is in training after breaking an ankle bone and is expected to be shipped back to Calder Race Course within a month.

Talking Red led the county in the two stakes races Sunday, finishing fifth in the $200,000 Tampa Bay Derby.

The 3-year-old son of Private Talk showed some late stamina, coming from ninth to make a late run down the stretch under Johnny Rojas.

"We'll probably give him a little bit of a rest," said co-owner George Alvarez. "He came out of the race okay."

Burning Roma won and is being slotted for the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct or Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

American Prince, trained by Brooksville native Tracy Nunley, finished second to Burning Roma, as he had in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Nunley couldn't muster the same trick for her father's filly _ Chinsegut _ in the Grade III, $150,000 Florida Oaks, as she finished eighth in a nine-filly field. Under Jesus Castanon, John Porter's filly hung in the fifth spot until the 3/4-mile mark before fading.

Quick Tip won the race under Richard Migliore.

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