The Personal Touch

Terry C. Lovingier: CTBA Member Profile
The Personal Touch

“I was exposed to horses at a very early age and have always loved them,” said Terry Lovingier, a CTBA member since 1998. “My parents kept a couple of Quarter Horse broodmares in our backyard in Lakewood while I was growing up. Between my dad’s horse stories and taking care of the mares, I became horse-crazy as a kid. “My father was born and raised in Seiling, Oklahoma, which was known as the little Louiville of the Southwest. Uncle Calvin (Spider) was a jockey in the late 1920’s and rode at the bush tracks throughout the Southwest. In those days, Dad says the races were run down Main Street in Seiling. When Dad saw the movie Seabiscuit he actually got teary-eyed at the scenes where the jockey’s rode on the bush tracks. It brought back so many memories for him. I love to sit and listen to my Dad tell horse stories.”

Lovingier’s family worked the sport of Quarter Horse racing to the West Coast. He built a breeding farm and racetrack for Quarter Horses in nearby Los Alamitos.

Because of their shared interest in oil, Terry’s parents became good friends with Vessels. It came as no surprise hat
Lovingier’s initial entrée into the racing world was with Quarter Horses.

Terry, together with his father Russ and brother Dan, bought a ranch outside Waco, Tex., and started breeding Quarter Horses for the commercial market. One yearling who Terry and his brother bred and sold was a bay son of Strawfly Special out of Streakin for Love. Under the name Streakin Flyer, the colt won the 1996 All-American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs, Quarter Horse racing’s version of the Kentucky Derby, and earned $1,141,128.

The Texas ranch was sold eight years ago. Terry and his and settled in Lakewood, a small community adjacent to Long Beach. Their oil business also held a very important linkto their future horse interests. Another family with roots in the oil business was that of Frank Vessels, who also introduced in the Oklahoma oil fields.

When oil was discovered along the Southern California coast, they moved west dad moved their horses to property they owned in Murrieta, Calif. It became the nucleus of Lovacres Ranch, which now encompasses about 80 acres. Instead of Quarter Horses, however, the property is now home to three Thoroughbred stallions and several dozen mares and foals.

Lovingier fully transitioned into Thoroughbreds about four years ago when he bought Nineeleven and went into breeding. By the good stallion Phone Trick, Nineeleven was produced from the California-bred Survive, a multiple graded stakes winner of 10 races and $670,361 who has a race named in her honor at Santa Anita Park.

Around the same time, he also acquired Rio Verde from rainer Bobby Frankel and retired him to Lovacres Ranch. A son of the influential Nureyev out of a top-producing Riverman mare, Rio Verde won or placed in eight of 11 starts and ran second in the 1996 Prix Point du Jour in France for career earnings of $86,192.

Despite limited opportunities at stud, both stallions have done very well for themselves. Nineeleven’s second crop of 12 foals all started and featured nine winners. His fourth crop included Lovacres’ first Thoroughbred stakes winner, Lil Bro Eddie, who won last year’s Everett Nevin Alameda County Futurity after he was claimed away from Lovingier. Rio Verde sent out several winning juveniles last spring. One of these was Lovacres-bred Rhythm River, who was the top-selling Cal-bred at the Barretts May Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training after he won his debut at Hollywood Park on April 25.

Another Rio Verde offspring, Bobby the Bagger, broke his maiden April 22, on the day Terry treated his office girls to an afternoon at Hollywood Park for Secretaries Day. “I probably couldn’t have planned something like that if I tried,” he quipped. “ He paid something like $40! They all
had tickets on him because he was my horse and had their picture taken in the winner’s circle. When you get to experience good times like that in this business, they’re very special and memorable.”

Sought After, a Seeking the Gold stallion owned by Miraleste Corp., also makes his home at Lovacres and stood his first season at the Murrieta ranch this year after relocating from Circle H Ranch. Unraced, he descends from the family of European champions El Gran Senor, Try My Best and multiple grade I winner Blush With Pride, who is his second dam. The ranch and all the horses that reside there are looked after by Russ Lovingier, who is now 84 years old.

“My dad works hardest of anyone at the ranch,” he said. “You can’t keep him off his tractor, but that’s what keeps him going. He’s still very much an icon in the horse world.”

Between 50 and 100 foals are born at Lovacres Ranch every year. Being primarily a commercial breeder, Lovingier sells most of the horses he breeds but has raced many of his homebreds in small partnerships. The babies get their early schooling on Lovacres’ six-furlong training track. It is not at all surprising that they get to the track ready to race and frequently break their maidens at first asking.

“I love being at the ranch with my dad and working with the babies, watching how they develop,” he said. “I think I enjoy that even better than the racing sometimes.” But, like a proud father, he can’t help being thrilled with the racetrack accomplishments of the foals he has raised. Two of them, both three-year-olds, won at Fairplex Park on Sept. 12. Within hours of each other, At a Boy Harry—a son of Nineeleven—broke his maiden and Roll Over Roy—a son of Kentucky-based Roy (Arg)—captured a claiming race.

“And that may be just the beginning,” Lovingier said. “Rio Verde looks like he could sire horses who have speed and like a distance of ground. He has some super nice babies coming up. In about three or four years, Lovacres just could be one of the major players in the Thoroughbred business.”

Terry owns and operates Lovco Construction Inc., a heavy industrial contractor that has between 125 to 200 employees and is based in Signal Hill, outside of Long Beach. Lovingier, who holds a civil and environmental engineering degree from U. C. Irvine, lives in Los Alamitos with his family.

Terry’s three growing children (Cheri, Matt and Megan) love the horse business. They enjoy going to the ranch and spending afternoons at the track. His wife Barbara, while not a horse lover at first, has been reborn.

“I guess it was my fault,” he confessed. “When Barb and I first got married, I borrowed $8,000 to buy two IRA’s and some new furniture. Instead, I claimed a horse at Los Alamitos or $8,000. My wife was absolutely livid with me, but then the horse went on to win a stakes and earn $75,000. She was fine with the horses after that happened, you can bet.”