jointheclub
jointheclub
homedelivery

Features

  • One Way: Maryland-bred filly Street Lute zooms to quick start to career +

    Where do you want to start with Street Lute? Winning seven of her first eight starts? Her eye injury? Her Read More
  • Start-Up Life: Owner/breeder Dorman takes Determined Stud to next level +

    Matt Dorman’s best day as a handicapper came at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup, when he hit the pick four. Found Read More
  • State of Play: West Virginia stallions cover all angles as breeding season arrives +

    You might as well start at the beginning. A conversation about West Virginia-based stallions starts with Fiber Sonde. The 16-year-old Read More
  • Federal Future: Racing must learn to live with new law +

    First, it’s 65 pages. Second, it’s full of formal, legal and otherwise long-winded language that will test even an English Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8

Say It Again

  • “He has no idea how lucky he is.”
    Trainer Jerry Robb, about Street Lute’s owner Joey Lloyd
  • “I get so ready for every race, that adrenaline gets going. Winning a horse race was better than striking out three guys in an inning.”
    Lloyd, a former pitcher who was once offered a free-agent contract by the Florida Marlins organization
  • “People have pockets of mints for her all the time. I stick to carrots. I try to give her the healthy stuff.”
    Lloyd, on his relationship with Street Lute
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8

Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred | Favorites

  • 1

joeclancy2You know the guys. They worked in the barns for what seemed like decades. All day. They rubbed, walked, ran, talked and breathed racehorses. They lived in the bunkhouses, ate in the track kitchens, rode in horse vans. Some, like Kiniel (whose real name was James) wound up working on farms and stepping into a more mainstream life–a little–but they still got up every day and went to bed every night thinking about horses.

When he died, Kiniel’s name wound up on a list of obituaries for this magazine. Of course, we didn’t get much further than his name. He didn’t leave much in the way of details. He was from North Carolina, came to Maryland with his brother and by the sounds of things never left. He gravitated toward Mikey Smithwick’s farm in Hydes, found a home, stayed, became a fixture.

Kiniel was 75 when he died and some pegged his tenure with Smithwick at 50 years. When he wasn’t in the barn, he was part of a band, Fat Boy and the Comets (later dubbed The Soulations) that recorded two singles and played for 20 years in the region. In 2011, he sang in a Senior Idol competition. Kiniel had style–whether he was wearing shades in the winner’s circle or a suit on stage.

In his time with Smithwick, he touched some horses. Champions, legends, heroes. His boss went to the Hall of Fame. Kiniel kept taking care of horses. Nobody did it better than he did.

And the work rubbed off on more than horses.

Kiniel was a groom, a trainer, a family member, a mentor to the people at the Smithwick farm. Lessons learned went a long way toward keeping people in racing, and that’s the true impact of men like Kiniel and other grooms of that era.

They worked hard for other people, at a difficult job, for not much money. In turn, they brought an honor to the task and made it something people wanted to do.

Home from college for the summer? Stuck between “real” jobs? Really want to be a trainer, but don’t now where to start? Tag along with Speedy or Lonnie or Bubba at the track or around the farm, get a couple of horses to rub, hook those safety pins in your jeans just so, stick a rub rag in your pocket, get to work early, ride the van to Atlantic City at night and do it all over again the next day. It was hard work, but it mattered more than cutting lawns or washing cars or flipping burgers.

And, who knows? You just might make something of yourself.

Kiniel’s influence spread out to future trainers Holly Robinson, Alex White, Michele Sanger, Speedy Smithwick (who shared the man’s nickname and more) plus racing secretary Georganne Hale and plenty of others.

And I guess that’s the point. These men provided a service, without really knowing it. They were working. Everyone else learning. Only some of the lessons had anything to do with horses.

“Believe it or not, right up to the present day, whenever I see a horse walking all over his handler or spinning round and round stepping on himself, I think of Speedy,” said Maryland horseman Turney McKnight, who spent plenty of time in the Smithwick barn, via an email. “He wrote the book on what to do to keep that from happening. Awesome horseman with a good measure of natural dignity and charm thrown in.”

Like McKnight, everybody who knew Kiniel has a story. It might involve Lady of Leys, a Pennsylvania-bred stakes winner, or steeplechase champion Straight and True, or three-time Iroquois Steeplechase winner Uncle Edwin, or gritty mare Fight Talk (who seemed to always get close, without winning). Regardless of who they were, the horses and the people were a huge part of Kiniel’s life–and he theirs.

He’ll be missed, but the lessons live on.

Comments  

# janet elliot 2015-02-16 19:34
GREAT MAN, I REMEMBER HIM WELL, HE WAS A FIXTURE AT THE HUNT MEETS WITH MICKEY. WINNER OF THE "WOODVILLE"AWAR D IN 2000.
THE AWARD THAT HONORS THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE DEDICATED THEIR LIVES TO A STABLE AND MAKES SURE ALL THE BASES ARE COVERED AT THE FARM AND AT THE RACES, AN IMPORTANT ASSET TO THE TRAINER.
# Quinzella Kiniel 2015-03-08 18:05
THANK FOR THE KIND WORDS ABOUT MY UNCLE SPEEDY..HE ALSWAYS HAD GOOD STORIES ..
# Kris Matlack DVM 2015-06-25 17:13
Excellent story on Speedy. Handling a fit horse before and after it runs is an art...keeping the horse calm to produce his best effort and keeping him from stepping on himself, as Turney says. Speedy was wonderful with the horses and support for the jocks, like young Patrick Smithwick.,who wrote a wonderful memorial piece about him.
Speedy was a fine jazz musician and an artist too. His friends were lucky to have him in their lives.
Kris Lindley Matlack DVM
former Mikey groom and apprentice trainer for my one timber horse stable in the 1970s

You have no rights to post comments

contenttopspacer

The Mill Leaders

Resources

  • Forms & Documents
  • Photographers
  • Community
  • Coady Photography / CoadyPhotography.com / 214-455-7732
  • Equi-Photo, Inc. / P.O. Box 107Oceanport, N.J. 07757 / 732-222-9333 / www.equiphoto.com / www.williamdenver.com
  • Maggie Kimmitt / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Douglas Lees / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 540-347-2266
  • Anne Litz / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Barbara D. Livingston / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Tod Marks / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Jim McCue / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Lydia A. Williams / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.