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.
Formerly 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.