05/31/2010 11:00PM

Bigger barn puts Lovell in trainer title mix


BOSSIER CITY, La. - After a top-10 finish at the competitive Fair Grounds meeting, trainer Michelle Lovell was cautiously optimistic coming into the Louisiana Downs season, which began May 1.

"You never know with five weeks between meets," said Lovell. "But we thought we would be in pretty good shape when Louisiana Downs started.

"Then one would get a cough or another would miss a work and you would say, 'Uh oh,' because so much can happen in this game."

What has happened is Lovell is now atop the Louisiana Downs trainer standings with 10 victories. Lovell's stable has increased is size as well as quality in recent months.

"I think our success in New Orleans over the winter allowed us to pick a couple additional owners and about 10 more horses," Lovell said. "Our stable seems to be a little deeper this year, a little more quality."

A couple of the bigger guns in Lovell's arsenal are Marquee Event and Canon Man.

"Marquee Event ran a big race and won his last start in New Orleans," Lovell said. "We had a spot for him at Keeneland in April, but he got a little sick on us and we had to scratch. He ended up running on Derby Day at Churchill, but the track was just a mess and he did not handle it.

"He is back with us here and worked five-eighths in a minute the other day, so he is ready."

Lovell is also shopping for a spot for Canon Man, a talented 3-year-old who is coming off a tiring fourth-place performance in the Louisiana Cup Derby on May 22.

"I made the mistake of putting blinkers on him," she said. "He was fast before, but the blinkers just made him crazy-fast," Lovell said in reference to the early fractions 22.3 and 44.25 that Canon Man set in the seven-furlong derby. "They [blinkers] are coming off for his next start."

Lovell's husband, Casey, is instrumental in running the shed row.

"He can do anything when it comes to the barn or when we ship. It is really great to have him. I only get him in the mornings, though, as he works the starting gate in the afternoons. That way be both get to do what we really like."