(Micheline / Coady Photography)
From the Keeneland Media Team:
With their superior intelligence, Thoroughbreds are as capable of training their people as much as their people train them. Such is the case with Godolphin’s homebred Micheline, who is entered in Saturday’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana.
The 3-year-old filly by Bernardini out of 2007 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) winner Panty Raid convinced her connections early on that she requires special accommodations to lessen her claustrophobia, and she has thanked them by earning $445,978 with four wins, including the Sept. 10 Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs.
Micheline and her companion horse, Colonel, arrived at Keeneland early Thursday morning from trainer Mike Stidham’s base at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland with some unusual baggage: a portable stall. The housing of four wood-lined farm gates and fitted gray tarp for a ceiling soon was assembled outside the Stidham barn (left), and Micheline took up residence inside with Colonel in the main barn.
“Whenever she ships to another track, that stall goes with her,” Stidham said.
During her early training in Florida, Micheline was so claustrophobic that she was turned out in a paddock instead of residing in a stall. Before she relocated to Fair Hill, an outdoor stall was built.
“She lived there for the summer and then last winter when we went to Tampa Bay Downs, Godolphin bought her a portable stall so she could live just outside the barn,” Stidham said.
While Micheline’s situation is unusual, horsemen routinely conjure up clever methods to manage racehorses’ individual behaviors. Some horses relax with a goat, small pony or donkey as a companion. Others enjoy a window in the stall between themselves and their next-door neighbor. Inquisitive types like to see plenty of activity, while introverts are more comfortable in a quiet section of the barn.
Micheline has excelled with her special treatment. Third in her career debut last year, she next won the Sorority at Monmouth Park. She opened 2020 with a runner-up effort in the Feb. 1 Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream Park, and she won Gulfstream’s Honey Ryder on May 2. Overall, she has a 4-1-1 record from 11 starts.
“She has been at Fair Hill since her last race and has been training well,” Stidham said. “We are happy that we were invited to the Queen Elizabeth II.”
Florent Geroux will ride Micheline in Saturday’s race. Stidham and Geroux won the 2015 QE II with Her Emmynency.