18 February 2009

Royalty on the move

As many readers know, in late November, the Quinella Castle packed up the ole bookmobile and moved to Iowa. There's been a lot of adapting going on 'round here, and a few expected periodic bouts of homesickness when we yearn to see familiar faces -- or a hill on the horizon.

What has been unexpected is just how much we miss good old Mountaineer, our one-time local track. As we've spent the past few months hunkering down under wicked prairie winds and the weight (wait?) of dark days at our new local track, Prairie Meadows, I've found myself:

  • watching Mountaineer replays on Calracing, just to hear Peter Berry's lovely Australian intonations echo off the West Virginia hills.

  • visiting the Prairie Meadows OTB just to watch the fabulous team of Mountaineer simulcast hosts Mark Patterson and Nancy McMichaels share insights into each and every race at the Mountain. (In my admittedly unscientific observations, Nancy hits at least one trifecta a night, and Mark's explanations of his selections are truly educational.)

  • anxiously following the HANA rankings in hopes that Mountaineer might fare better than I expect. Sadly my guy Mountie didn't make the top 20. I'm not surprised, what with Mountie's rather high takeout and pedestrian wagering options, but golly, a girl can hope.
Now that I'm a Mountaineer ex-pat of sorts, I find my virtual stable full of horses that, like me, visited Mountaineer a time or two before galloping off to challenges far from the West Virginia Panhandle. So it was that this weekend, while others discussed Chocolate Candy and Evita Argentina, my attention was focused on Royale Michele, winner of Mountaineer's New Year's Eve Stakes, who shipped off to Maryland and won the Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park.

Royale Michele in the 2009 Barbara Fritchie Handicap - Photo: Maryland Jockey Club, Jim McCueFormerly trained by Todd Pletcher, Royale Michele landed at Mountaineer and the barn of Matthew Kintz last fall, where the four year old filly clicked off three wins in a row for her new trainer. With no stakes on the Mountaineer schedule until May, and the usual trials of wild and not so wonderful West Virginia winters, Kintz chose to ship to Laurel early enough for a Feb 6 work on the track.
“We were having difficulty training at home with the weather there and I’m glad we came down early,” Kintz said. “I’m very pleased with the way she worked, very pleased with the condition of the racetrack.” (Bloodhorse)
Afterwards, Kintz remarked:
"Geovany [Garcia] rode her race as we discussed it. I thought the race might unfold that way and she ran a phenomenal race." (Bloodhorse)
Some might disagree by noting that Royale Michele's race was not so much phenomenal as fortunate. Some might observe that but for an awkward start by favorite Seventh Street -- who reared in the gate and trailed the field until gamely closing in the stretch for second -- Royale Michele would not be a GII winner.

But you'll not hear that sort of talk here, where I'm finding it rather comforting to quote Matthew Kintz, whose name graces so many of my old Mountaineer programs. Nope, here at the Castle, we'll simply delight in Royale Michele's victory in a contest where she ran her race while far from home ... as we try to do the same.


Handride said...

I didn't realize where she came from, i was going over my virtual stable i use for the TBA standings, and I was like who is this horse. She's someboday now, #4 on the F&M sprint list. I think she could be any kind and w/ the right schedule could stay in the top 5 all year long.

Wind Gatherer said...

Fight the good fight, QQ.

As Churchill said, "When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home."

Nick said...

Not sure how I missed that you had moved to Iowa. Usually mention of my home state perks me right up.

Unfortunately I live too far from the track to make it to Prairie Meadows more than a few times a year, but I always make sure to be there for the Iowa Festival of Racing.

Teresa said...

Long distance relationships are hard, but sometimes, getting a little space can be a good thing. The times when you're together will be even more special.

Then again...geography IS destiny...

Valerie said...

Another Mountaineer horse to keep an eye on is 3-year-old Loch Dubh who won an allowance race there last December. He finished fifth in the G3 Southwest, and looked good doing so.

Do you need a care package? I'm not sure Primanti's sandwiches travel well, but some Sarris chocolates might hit the spot :)

gib. said...

I just read this post. So much for my hope of buying the Royal couple a beer this summer. Having broken my handicapping maiden at Waterford Park, I envisioned sharing some mutual memories.

Enjoy your new piece of the planet.