First-Time Trainer Leo Powell Thinking Big

(from Hollywood Park notes)
Leonard Powell, 27, is young but he thinks big.

The recently licensed trainer plans to send out his first starter, Labirinto, in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, a Grade I test at 12 furlongs Nov. 22.

"I've got to start somewhere," said Powell with a chuckle from Barn 52 Friday at Hollywood Park.

Powell, who grew up in France, combined careers as a horseman and turf journalist during recent years.

Powell, called Leo by most of his friends, first worked on the Southern California circuit as an assistant to Richard Mandella before working in Australia for two years and Singapore for one. He returned during the past two years to work as an assistant for Neil Drysdale and John Shirreffs before taking out his license.

During the past two years, Powell has also worked as a correspondent on U.S. racing for the French daily Paris Turf. Powell is the son of David Powell, a former correspondent for the Daily Racing Form in France who branched into bloodstock work. David Powell is a bloodstock agent who owns a farm in Normandy responsible for breeding such major stakes winners as Nasr El Arab and Gravieres.

The well-traveled Labirinto was turned over to Powell following a second-place finish Oct. 24 in the Carleton F. Burke Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita for French trainer Rodolfo Collett.

"Labirinto is owned by Jean Pierre Mio, who owns a supermarket chain in Paris," said Powell. "I used to ride for him as an amateur when I was in the university."

Powell was an amateur rider for three years while earning a degree in business management at the University of Caen in Normandy.

"I haven't done much with Labirinto because European imports tend to bounce off their first race here," explained Powell. "He worked three furlongs in :39 3/5 last Saturday just to put some air in his lungs and will work again this Saturday."

Labirinto, a 5-year-old gelding by Theatrical, has won eight of 30 starts and earned $298,886. He finished second in the Grand Prix de Vichy in France in July, won the Copa de Oro San Sebastian in Spain in August and won the Stockholm Cup International Stakes in Sweden in September.

Labirinto finished a neck behind Runaway Dancer in the Burke despite being carried four-wide around the far turn and into the stretch. Powell said Brice Blanc will be in from Kentucky to ride him for the first time in the Turf Cup.

Other probable Turf Cup starters include grade I winner The Tin Man, Burke winner Runaway Dancer, Eastern invader Bowman Mill and a Bobby Frankel-trained trio of Staging Post, Epicentre and Golden Rahy.

Golden Rahy worked a half mile on the main track Friday in :51.