Prospective Owners Will Love Lovell at Saturday Seminar

As always, when Thanksgiving Day makes its return as the opening day of the Fair Grounds season, a lot of people will be on hand for the happening social scene at the New Orleans oval even though they might have only a casual interest in the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Here’s some advice for them: If you have a fun day Thursday, try to come back Saturday morning from 9:30 to 11 a.m. when rising star trainer Michelle Lovell and ownership managing partner Thomas J. Gallo III will serve as guest speakers at Fair Grounds’ free Horse Ownership Seminar for prospective new owners.

It’s a great way to learn how easy and fun it is to get more seriously involved in the sport. The seminar will be the first of three (Dec. 18 and Jan. 22 as the others) and all will be held trackside in front of the Horsemen’s Relations office across from the 1/16-mile pole.

Guests will enjoy complementary coffee and pastries while taking in the sights and sounds of morning training hours. After training ends at 10 in the morning, rising star horsewoman Lovell and Parting Glass Racing managing partner Gallo are scheduled to address the group and take questions from the audience. Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association secretary/treasurer Roger Heitzmann III also will be on hand to answer questions about Louisiana-breds.

Later that afternoon, from 2-3 p.m., prospective owners will be invited to mingle with Fair Grounds-based trainers on the east end of the Clubhouse.

Lovell, who led the standings much of the season at Louisiana Downs last summer and leapfrogged in the Fair Grounds standings last winter from her inaugural season here two years ago, has also begun to make inroads as a more nationally recognized trainer following a very promising meeting at Keeneland in October.

“The success we had at Keeneland was really unexpected,” Lovell said. “I’d never been there before so I really didn’t know how we’d do. It was a lot of fun. As for our meeting at Louisiana Downs, we led for about four of the five months but Tony Richey ran us down in the last couple of weeks. He’s a very good trainer, and when he brought over some more horses after Evangeline ended, he had a lot more numbers than we did. I knew he’d catch us eventually, I just didn’t know exactly when he would. But it was a great run and I had a lot of fun. I was happy to do so well.”

Lovell is a former jockey who rode under the name Michelle Hanley before two separate serious injuries compromised her days as a rider, started her training career seven years ago, first at Retama Park and then on to Sam Houston Race Park and Lone Star Park. “But I decided to switch to the Louisiana circuit, and that has worked out great,” added Lovell, who is assisted in her barn by her husband Casey Lovell.

Two seasons ago at Fair Grounds, Lovell had only 14 stalls and mostly very average horses, but she did manage to win the $60,000 Allen Lacombe Memorial with Kamal Sheena’s Gold Wonder.

Last winter she had 25 stalls and cracked the top 10 in the final local standings and this year she has been given 35 stalls. What might be a highlight for her this winter at Fair Grounds?

“We are always looking to perk up the quality of our stock, and this year I think I have a very nice 2-year-old Louisiana-bred filly named Do Dat Blues (owned by Joe and Gene Walkoviak.) She won the ($50,000) Princess Stakes for us last summer and then came back to win the ($100,000) Louisiana Stallion Stakes in her last start. Her owners are great people who really get excited whenever she runs.

“It’s always nice to get new people in the game,” Lovell concluded of her pending appearance at Saturday’s Horse Ownership Seminar. “That’s what we need – new people who attract new passion to our sport.”

Can ‘Wheat’ Threepeat Friday at Fair Grounds
Fair Grounds fans on hand for Friday’s program will see a racing rarity should Wachtel Stable, Brous Stable and J. D. Lee’s Desert Wheat win the featured $60,000 Mr. Sulu Stakes. The 7-year-old colt won the inaugural running two years and defended that title last year. Should he win Friday’s renewal (where he has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite), the Mr. Sulu will have been contested three times but have only had one winner.

Fair Grounds Pick 6 a $1 Wager This Season
Guests of Fair Grounds and fans of Fair Grounds simulcast signal are reminded that the local Pick 6 wager this season will carry a $1 minimum.