Trainer Lovell One to Watch

She’s coming off a great summer at Louisiana Downs where she enjoyed a 30 percent win ratio, and the only question now is how long trainer Michelle Lovell will remain under the radar at Fair Grounds.

In Saturday’s Woodchopper Stakes here, Lovell saddled Agave Racing Stable’s Marquee Event as the longest shot on the board at better than 15-1, but the altered son of Marquetry made the pace, could not stay with odds-on favorite Evolutionist, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, in the final furlong but gamely held the place.

“I thought he ran well,” said Lovell Sunday morning during training hours. “I took a chance running him in there. That was a nice bunch of horses, but he held his own. I was just looking at him and he looks great this morning. He showed good speed for a half on the grass, and he should do even better on dirt if I run him back in ‘two-other-than’ company next time.”

However, before that happens, Lovell has nominated Agave Racing Stable’s Going to the Sun to this Saturday’s $60,000 Pago Hop for 3-year-old fillies, and Lovell thinks she will run that filly in there.  

“She’s been training good, so I think we’ll take a shot in there, too,” Lovell said.

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

“Last winter was our first time at Fair Grounds, and we only had 14 stalls and mostly very average horses,” Lovell said, “but we did manage to win one stakes (the $60,000 Allen Lacombe Memorial with Kamal Sheena’s Gold Wonder). This year, however, they gave us 25 stalls and we’ve got better stock. We’ve only won two races so far, but we’ve had seven seconds. We should be all right.”

Lovell was asked about Agave Racing, owner of both the Woodchopper runner-up Marquee Event and this Saturday’s Pago Hop’s probable starter Going to the Sun.

“Agave Racing is run by a man named Mark Martinez,” Lovell said. “He’s a businessman from the San Antonio area who runs a company called M2 Technologies and he’s very passionate about Thoroughbred racing. In fact, M2 Technology is the title sponsor of Retama’s $100,000 La Senorita Stakes, so obviously that kind of owner is very good for the game”

Woodchopper Winner Evolutionist Also Doing Well Sunday Morning
Kinsman Stable’s Evolutionist, 2 1/2-length winner of Saturday’s Woodchopper, came out of the race well, ate up everything Saturday night and was doing well Sunday morning, according to Mike Kaetzel, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s Fair Grounds-based assistant.  

“He’s fine,” said Kaetzel. “He finished up good yesterday. That’s what I liked. I don’t think we know yet what’s next for him.”

Jockey Jesse Campbell Still Sore Sunday
Jockey Jesse Campbell, who suffered injuries in a paddock accident prior to Saturday’s sixth race, was off all his mounts Sunday but is hopeful of riding later this week, according to his wife Allyson, Fair Grounds’ event manager.

“He’s still very sore, and his hand and his foot are swollen,” said Mrs. Campbell. “Nevertheless, he hopes to be able to ride on Thursday’s card.”

Campbell, who won Saturday’s second race aboard Gail Golden for trainer Sturges Ducoing, was belatedly recognized in a winner’s circle ceremony after that race by Fair Grounds president Austin Miller and vice president and general manager Eric Halstrom for passing the 1,500-win milestone last summer at Arlington Park. Campbell’s win on Gail Golden was actually the 1,528th of his career.