OLDSMAR, Fla. (April 3, 2009) April’s Courtside Grille II Trainer of the Month is Kathleen O’Connell, who in the week of March 24 – March 29 has saddled 7 winners, 1 second and 2 third-place finishers from 19 starters. Additionally, O’Connell is as of April 1st the fifth leading trainer for the current Tampa meet with 24 wins.

Kathleen O’Connell is the daughter of a retired Detroit policeman. She rode show horses as a youth but had no racetrack experience when she took a howalker's job in 1970 at age 19 at the now-defunct Detroit Racecourse. A National Honor Society member in high school, O'Connell began working at the track "until I decided what I wanted to do with my life," she said. After having been turned down for veterinary school, O'Connell began her training career in her native Michigan, but has been competing in Florida since 1985. She established herself as one of the hardest working conditioners on the backstretch, and won the training title here in the 1998-1999 season.

O’Connell counts millionaire Blazing Sword among her trainees; Blazing Sword captured two divisions of the 1996 Florida Stallion Stakes, the Grade II Washington Handicap and the Calder Derby. Besides Blazing Sword, O'Connell has trained such stakes performers as Shananie's Beat, Lindsay Lane, Shan's Ready, Shananie's Finale, Sheer Bliss and Bettarun Fast. 2002 juvenile filly Ivanavinalot won two Florida Stallion Stakes series races, including a record-setting 13 3/4-length win in the My Dear Girl Stakes. O’Connell saddled her 1,000th winner May 6, 2007 at Calder Race Course.

Kathleen O’Connell finished the 2007-2008 Tampa Bay Downs season as eighth leading conditioner with 18 victories to her credit.

Finish Lines… Tampa Bay Downs will switch over to its new schedule in the second week of April; please note that the track will be closed on Sunday, April 12 in observance of Easter.