Anthony Lovato, second in the 2001 and 2002 Lone Star Park jockey standings, is back to his old winning ways in Grand Prairie after a long stint in Southern California. The 34-year-old jockey returned to action in Texas on May 26 and has already tallied eight wins in 10 racing days."I love it here," Lovato said. "The people are great and the life's not as fast. I'm just glad to be home. I have some good people rooting for me and helping me get started again and that's all you can ask for."Lovato racked up 138 career wins in three seasons at Lone Star Park from 2000-2002, the majority of which was spent as first-call rider for trainer Cole Norman. When Norman needed a new main man to ride his formidable string in Grand Prairie, the trainer looked to the man with whom he's had the most success in Texas."We had talked to each other and finally I called him and said, 'I want to come back,' and he said, 'Then get your butt down here,'" Lovato remembered.All of Lovato's winners the past 10 days have been for Norman, but the jockey is picking up live mounts from other conditioners."Joe Petalino and a lot of other people are trying to give me a shot, but it's hard to ride for Cole and then ride for everyone else because you don't know when Cole's going to enter horses," Lovato said.Lovato will try to win his first local stakes race since 2002 with mounts in both divisions of Saturday's Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity. He rides Leaving On My Mind, 6-1 on the morning line, in the colts and geldings contest and Inheritress, 15-1, in the fillies heat."I really like Danny Pish's horse, Leaving On My Mind," Lovato said. "He showed me a little bit working in the morning and it seems like he can rate, he can relax, and he has a big kick when you ask him to run."
Lovato has five career stakes wins in Grand Prairie. In 2002, he won his only graded stakes with Unrullah Bull in the Texas Mile (gr. III) and also hit with Beau's Town in the Ford Express.Lovato went to California in early 2003 hoping to make an impact in one of the world's most notoriously difficult jockey colonies. "I was doing really well when I went down in a spill at Del Mar," Lovato said. "I broke my back, broke my shoulder, had a concussion. Five of us went down. It took me eight months to get back."By the time Lovato was able to make it back to the track, much of his business had dried up.
"You can't lose that kind of time in California," he said.