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The Road That Always Led Home


Sometimes it is difficult to overlook certain details of a race, whether they provide handicapping information or something altogether different.

Every so often elements emerge that are somehow hard to dismiss without at least a remark or two, for whatever they might be worth.

Take the fourth race on Saturday when a trio of  priests appeared in the winner’s circle afterwards. “Just say Father Eric and Father Paul were here from St. Joachim and Anne Parish in Shakopee, ” one of this particular trinity proclaimed.

There is more:

One of the trio had just bet on the winner:

A horse named Memorable Angel.

“You have to be kidding me,” said winning rider Quincy Hamilton. “That’s pretty neat. That really is. ”

Hamilton knows whereof he speaks. A few days ago he rode a winner for trainer Wade Rarick, who also trains Memorable Angel.

In that case, the winner’s name was Pine Grove Road.

It so happens that Pine Grove Road has a special place in Hamilton family history and most assuredly in Quincy’s memories about childhood on a 5,000-acre  ranch in Texas and the road that ran past it:

Pine Grove Road.

This is where an early affinity for horses was born and nourished, where his grandparents lived in a house near the road and his parents in another one right behind. This was home his first six years.

And here he was, riding a horse with a name he heard countless times as a  boy,  the name of a road that always led to home.

“Oh, it brought back a lot of memories,” Hamilton said.

Special memories.

Pine Grove itself has a population of perhaps 50. Nearby Newton is not more than 2,500.

And it all ended at first grade, when his family relocated to Houston.

His dad, John, was the leading quarter horse rider in Louisiana several times. “He won a lot of races,” Quincy said. And had a profound influence on his son.

Hamilton has two brothers and two sisters but is the only one of the five in racing. His parents divorced and have been remarried for many years and he himself has a wife, Mandy, and four children _ Emma, Carter, Carsyn and Carbyn. “The same initials,” he says now, “was not the best idea.”

Ocala, Fla., is home to Quincy and his family as he pursues his occupation around the country.

He has ridden in Texas, Oklahoma and Chicago, and arrived at Canterbury for the first time in 2014. He missed the 2015 meet in Shakopee but has been part of the jockey colony since. He will head to Delta Downs when the Canterbury meet concludes. He picked up his 16th winner of the meet with Memorable Angel on Saturday.

And maybe, every so often over the winter, he will recall his ride aboard a horse named Pine Grove Road, and think of the place where his father and four brothers were born and where his grandfather lived until his death.

Where he lived as a boy, and where one particular road there always meant home.