Just Might and Doncho Punctuate Lovell’s 2023 

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  • Fair Grounds Jockey, Rachel Alexandra Winner Finalists in the 2023 Eclipse Awards 
  • Exotic Animal Races Family Day is January 13

New Orleans, La (Jan. 7, 2024) – With a return to the Fair Grounds winner’s circle for the 8-year-old millionaire Just Might and a sensational debut by the since-turned 3-year-old Doncho,  Michelle Lovell’s barn has turned the page on 2023 primed for another exciting year.

Affectionately named “Muscle Head” by Lovell, Just Might added his tenth stake to his resume winning the Richard Scherer Memorial on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day. Though it had been over a year since he’d had his picture taken, the 8-year-old’s resume tells the full story. His victory on the 23rd was his second Scherer, his fifth local stakes-win.

“I’m so happy Muscle Head is back to himself and a baby muscle head star was born: Doncho,” Lovell said. “I knew (Just Might) was not finished. People started losing faith in him, but he is the same as he’s always been. We were meeting very tough horses. I’m so proud of him.”

One year after unveiling Damon’s Mound, who followed up his juvenile debut win by taking the Saratoga Special (G2), Michelle Lovell saddled another buzzworthy debut-winning 2-year-old. His name is Doncho.  

“Yeah, isn’t Doncho fun?” Lovell said. “I knew he was freaky fast, but he is still maturing so we just kept his works in hand. I knew he could be a first-time-out winner but he did it pretty spectacularly in my opinion. His action was still fluid at the end of his race, and he was not looking for the wire.”

Going easily through the six furlongs in race 8 on Dec. 30, the son of Mo Town out of the Henny Hughes mare Sassy Redhead cruised to a five-length victory over Bango’s highly-regarded little brother, Evan On Earth. Doncho earned a 95 Brisnet Speed figure, and along with it the inevitable question: can he get two turns?

“I would love to do another sprint and then stretch some,” Lovell said. “Not sure about two turns though. He may like seven (furlongs) or a mile. But who knows as he matures. I guess we’ll find out.”

After his fourth-place finish in December’s Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita, Lovell reports that Damon’s Mound is getting a well-deserved rest in Kentucky to cap off his winning year that included another graded stakes victory.

As far as Doncho, look for him back on the worktab at Fair Grounds in January.

Fair Grounds Jockey, Rachel Alexandra Winner Finalists in the 2023 Eclipse Awards 

Fair Grounds jockey Jamie Torres has been named an Eclipse Award Finalist for 2023 Top Apprentice Jockey. After having a sensational year mostly based in New York, Torres is making an impact this winter riding at Fair Grounds racking up 15 wins at a 15% strike rate. Torres’ book is being handled by agent Liz Morris.

Now a journeyman with 115 wins (as of Jan. 6), on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day he bagged a stakes double, bringing Just Might to the winner’s circle in the Scherer and Leslie’s Loot in the Letellier. In the Claiming Crown Emerald, he piloted Runway Magic to victory for trainer Joe Sharp.

“We brought Jaime down here to ride first call,” Sharp said. “I usually have one guy that rides for us. He’s a good kid, good rider, and I know a lot of the guys up in New York think a lot of him.”

In total, Torres has won for eight different trainers, and he has been in the irons for seven of Sharp’s ten scores.


Pretty Mischievous has been named an Eclipse Award Finalist for 2023 Top 3-year-old Filly. Godolphin’s Pretty Mischievous paved her way to winning Kentucky Oaks 149 with scores in the Untapable and the Rachel Alexandra (G2), along with a second-place finish in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). Adding victories in the Acorn (G1) and the Test (G1) to her resume, along with finishing second in the Cotillion (G1), the Brendan Walsh trainee has seven career wins and is yet to finish out of the money in 10 lifetime starts.

Exotic Animal Races Family Day is January 13.

Exotic Animal Races Family Day is Saturday, Jan. 13 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The ever-popular card encompasses one heat each for camels, ostriches and zonkies as they join forces with a premium card of nine horse races.

With a nine-race program scheduled at Fair Grounds on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 15), there will be no live racing Sunday, Jan. 14. Next week’s racing schedule begins on Thursday, Jan. 11 and includes Friday and Saturday, as well. Post time for all four days is 12:45 p.m. CT.



About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 16 off-track betting parlors throughout Southeast Louisiana. The 152nd Thoroughbred Racing Season–highlighted by the 111th running of the Louisiana Derby–will run from Nov. 17, 2023 through March 24, 2024. More information is available online at www.fgno.com.