by Lauren Lee for the Breeders Crown
“These chances are more special as you get older, and also because more of them are my own (homebreds). Years ago I was buying yearlings or being sent yearlings… but when you raise your own, and you look out into the field, that’s what you’ve got, said McIntosh, 62, with a laugh.
“You don’t get to pick them and that’s when it’s special getting them here. I have homebreds with a lot of history with me, going back a few generations. This is not like the ‘80s or ‘90s for me. I had to reinvent myself a little bit.”
Thinking Out Loud, the 2012 North America Cup winner, is a son of Ponder and the Camluck mare Los Angeles, all of which were campaigned by McIntosh, who shares ownership with Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. and C S X Stables.
“I’ve been in the business 40-some years and I’ve never seen a year like this for aged horses. There are a bunch of monsters in here, that’s for sure,” said McIntosh.
“He’s capable of beating them if he gets the right trip. He’s as good as he could be. There’s not a horse in the world who can pace a quarter mile better than him,” he said of Thinking Out Loud, who came home in :26.1 in last week’s prep race, finishing fourth by a neck, after tinkering with his bridle.
McIntosh’s other homebred colt, Go Daddy Go, one of 13 Ontario-sired horses competing in the Crown Finals, has earned $373,000 as a freshman. McIntosh shares ownership of the eye-catching chestnut with Ontario’s Dave Boyle.
“Daddy, he had kind of a tough trip in the elimination (a winning effort in 1:51.1), but I jogged him on Tuesday and he was back in and kicking, fresh as a daisy. He’s like his dad, Ponder, just tough.”
Both of McIntosh’s starters will be teamed up with all-time leading Crown driver John Campbell, who has been handed the reins from McIntosh on hundreds of occasions, winning dozens of stakes through the years.
Despite all of their individual success in the series, the trainer-driver combination have only won two titles together —Western Shooter (2001) and Artsplace (1992), which still stands as one of the most memorable performances in the Crown’s 30-year history.
“John and I go way back to when we were kids at Western Fair. He started driving for me 30-some years ago and I always say, when you’ve got John, you’ve got AllState — you’re in good hands,” said McIntosh, who last won the Breeders Crown in 2005 with Belovedangel.
The trainer, a Hall of Famer in both the U.S. and Canada, fondly remembers his first Crown winner, Sunset Warrior at Garden State Park in 1986.
“That goes down as one of the special races of my career. We weren’t expected to win it and it was just great to be there. I had Bill Gale driving for me and it was his first Breeders Crown, my first Breeders Crown and it’s right in the top five or six races of my life.”
From there, McIntosh won Crowns with a dozen other horses including Camluck, Artsplace, Staying Together, Artiscape, Armbro Affair, Western Shooter Delinquent Account.
“The Breeders Crown has meant an awful lot to my career. Basically, many of my horses have gotten really good in the fall so it’s been a great stage for me. You know, some of them are slow starting but they finish up well in the fall and I like to think that’s about conditioning,” he said.
“I remember Bill Wellwood saying the same thing about his horses and any time you are in the same breath as Bill Wellwood, it’s a good place to be.”