LAUREL, MD. 10-06-12---Former Maryland mainstay turned New York journeyman Mike Luzzi gave a flawless performance as he guided Pagan Priestess to victory in the $100,000 Jim McKay Maryland Million Ladies at Laurel Park.

Traversing the firm turf in 1:49.40 for the nine furlong distance, Pagan Priestess threaded her way through traffic and slipped inside frontrunner Weeper in mid-stretch to win by a length, with Dance With Gio finishing a fast closing third.

“The race set up perfect,” Luzzi said. “This was a typical turf race where I got through on the rail. I was loaded the whole way. Turning for home I was just waiting for a spot. Then it opened when the kid (Manuel Chaves on Weeper) drifted off the rail. I had to get through pretty quick and finished up great.”

Luzzi now has five Maryland Million victories, but his first since 1997.

Robbie Bailes trains the daughter of Oratory.

“My instructions were simply just save as much ground as you can early and try to be within striking distance at the top of the lane because this filly will be running late,” Bailes said. “She’s really gotten good lately. It took a long time to get a distance race to fill so she was a little late coming around but she’s a totally different horse from a month and a half ago when she was running in a $5,000 lifetime claiming condition. She’s really come into her own.”

This was the second Maryland Million score for Bailes, who won the Sprint Starter Handicap with Snooky’s Taylor in 1994.

Pagan Priestess paid $15.20 and led a $216 exacta and a $1385.20 triple.