07/30/2010 1:41PM

Lovelace goes from auto worker to jockey at Louisiana Downs

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Jockey Austin Lovelace will be riding in a race for the first time in more than six years Sunday at Louisiana Downs, but he has not been too far removed from the track. At least geographically. Lovelace had been working at an automotive company in Shreveport, La., until this past spring, when the plant closed. He then returned to his racing roots, began galloping horses, and on Sunday has been named to ride Dark Tunnel in the third race for trainer Charlie Hukill. It will be Lovelace’s first mount since May 20, 2004.

“I’m anxious to get back,” said Lovelace, 39. “The funny thing is, I hadn’t been on a horse for three or four years up to [this spring], and it was just kind of like anything that you do for so long, or you’ve done so many times, it comes back so quick. It’s something you don’t forget. I’ve been riding since I was a little kid.”

Lovelace said he stopped race-riding shortly after the birth of his son, and at that same time was offered a lucrative job at the automotive plant.

“I didn’t have to travel, and the pay was great,” Lovelace said. “But I missed the riding aspect, and then they closed the plant down, so I started getting on horses.”

Lovelace said he has lost 14 pounds since returning to racing, and that he expects to tack 122 or 123 pounds on Sunday.

“I’m going to try to get a little lower than that,” he said. “Once you start riding, some more weight will come off.”

Lovelace is closing in on 1,000 career wins. He was at 968 through Wednesday, from 8,521 mounts. He rode his first career winner at Louisiana Downs in 1990. High points of Lovelace’s career include riding seven winners on a single card at Sam Houston, and winning stakes with such horses as Icy Morn and Capote’s Prospect. He said following the Louisiana Downs meet he could ride at Delta Downs.

Ricky Tick preps for Prelude

A collection of some of the best 3-year-olds at Louisiana Downs will met Sunday in the eighth race, an allowance for 3-year-olds going a mile and 70 yards that should produce starters for the $100,000 Prelude at the track on Aug. 28.

Ricky Tick was an impressive maiden winner at two turns at Fair Grounds back in December. He will be moving back to a two-turn route Sunday after making up some ground late in a one-turn mile allowance at Churchill Downs in his last start July 4. Chris Rosier has the mount for trainer Rick Jackson.

Productive Envoy is the one to beat for his sharp form. He has two races in his last two starts, the most recent being the $72,000 Louisiana Showcase Night Mile at Evangeline Downs on July 3. Don Simington will ride for trainer Tony Richey.

Fasig-Tipton Texas draws 363 yearlings

Fasig-Tipton Texas has cataloged 363 horses for its summer yearling sale that will be held at Lone Star Park near Dallas on Aug. 30. The auction will begin at 10 a.m. Central.

Louisiana-breds have been a hot-seller at the Texas sale, and this year figures to be no exception with the catalog including colts by Afleet Alex, Smarty Jones, and Tiznow. In addition, there is a Louisiana-bred half-brother to Grade 1 winner Nothing to Lose, by Suave.

Among the Texas-breds on offer are half-brothers to Grade 2 winner Postponed and multiple stakes-winning sprinter Chief of Affairs.

Another upcoming auction in the Southwest market is the summer mixed sale that the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Sales Co. will put on Aug. 8. It will be held at the Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette, beginning at 10 a.m.

There are 178 horses cataloged to the sale, which features breeding stock and horses of racing age. Consignors include Clear Creek Stud, McFadden Farm, Pickett Thoroughbreds, and Red River Farm.

Classic purse kicked up at Arapahoe

As part of the purse increase that went into effect at Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Colo., on Saturday, the Classic, a 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and up, has been increased from $30,000 to $50,000, said Bill Powers, the track’s plant manager and racing secretary. It will be run Aug. 15.

Arapahoe on Saturday was to open a new offtrack betting site, at Softball Country, a sporting complex in Denver. Track officials said phone wagering is scheduled to come online before the end of August.