01/11/2013 3:14PM

Fair Grounds: McMahon's lone La.-bred feeling right at home

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NEW ORLEANS – Hugh McMahon, one of the leading trainers on the Maryland circuit, was looking for a winter base with a turf course when he decided that he would send horses to the Fair Grounds.

“We had a really good meet at the Colonial meet,” McMahon said. “We won the title there. We had grass horses. Let’s try New Orleans.”

Though wet weather has limited turf racing recently, McMahon said he’s enjoying his first season here.

From his first seven starters, We Found Love, the only Louisiana-bred in McMahon’s 12-horse stable here, provided the only victory – and it came on dirt. The colt made a solid late run to win a six-furlong sprint against Louisiana-bred maidens Dec. 29.

We Found Love will be running Sunday in a first-level allowance/optional claiming race for 3-year-old Louisiana-breds at 5 1/2 furlongs. Warren’s Rebel, who won his maiden with a victory against eventual stakes winner Sunbean, likely will be the favorite in the seven-horse field.

McMahon won with 23 of 47 starters at Colonial Downs. For all of 2012, he won career-best 146 races, 14th most in North America.

McMahon rode in his native England, where he won 59 races as a jockey from 1990 through 1998, before coming to the United States. He said he worked as an exercise rider for trainer Scott Lake before spending seven years as an assistant trainer in Maryland for him. McMahon said he went out on his own about three years ago.

We Found Love, a son of the Maryland sire Not For Love, was a $75,000 yearling purchase. The colt made his debut in late November, finishing second in an open maiden race at Laurel.

“He’s still green,” McMahon said. “Tony Dutrow had him and handed him over when I was coming here. Tony had horses for the same owner [David Ross].”

Warren’s Rebel, trained by Andy Leggio, has run twice at this meet, finishing second to Butcher in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race Nov. 23 before edging Sunbean by a nose in a six-furlong race Dec. 8. Sunbean won the Louisiana Futurity in his next start.

“It looks like he’s coming around nicely,” Leggio said of Warren’s Rebel, a son of Ole Rebel, a multiple-stakes-winning sprinter whom Leggio trained. “This guy is just learning how to run. He’s got a lot to learn yet.”

The nine-race card also includes a two-turn first-level allowance race for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies.