TORONTO, January 24 – Trainer Bob McIntosh has been honoured with the Armstrong Breeder of the Year award twice in his decorated career. If he wins his third on Saturday, it will be the first time he will have to share it…but that's just fine with the Hall of Famer.
Together, McIntosh and his cousin, Al, were named O’Brien finalists, along with last year’s winner, Warrawee Farm.
“I was glad to see Al get co-nominated, too,” said the four-time O’Brien Award-winning conditioner. “He really does deserve it. He’s been in it (the business) a long time. Al and I have been partners forever. He was my first partner, actually, in horses back in the late 70s.
“He owns a few mares with me and the offspring have done exceptionally well,” he continued. “He has always been very supportive of the breeding operation. We always get together when it’s time to figure out who we are going to breed the mares to. We sit down and bounce some ideas off each other, so he’s a big part of it.”
In 2012, a quartet of McIntosh-bred colts each banked over $100,000 in earnings.
They bred Pepsi North America Cup winner Thinking Out Loud, who posted seven wins and $1,230,951 in purse earnings in 2012, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship victor Dapper Dude ($490,676), Nassagaweya runner-up Dress The Part ($131,207) and Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Final runner-up In Commando ($127,370).
“It’s extra special to be named Trainer of the Year that many times, but with Breeder of the Year, it kind of rounds out the whole portfolio,” offered McIntosh. “Being the Armstrong award, it’s extra special since they were giants in our sport. There’s a lot of history.”
(Thinking Out Loud and driver Randy Waples)
Thinking Out Loud, the colt who gave McIntosh his first North America Cup win, is also an O’Brien finalist in the three-year-old pacing colt category and is up against Casie Coleman's Michaels Power.
On top of capturing the coveted Cup, the son of Ponder-Los Angeles won a division of the Bluegrass Stakes and posted runner-up finishes in the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, Kentucky Sire Stakes Championship, Progress Pace and Matron Stakes.
“I’m just glad to be a finalist,” said McIntosh, a resident of Windsor. “He is a fantastic colt. He’s like a once in a lifetime type of horse. He started early and he was right there until the bitter end. He danced every dance and was good right until the end. He was just a very, very tough little horse that raced straight through until December.”
And how is the newly-minted four-year-old doing?
“After his last race, the Cleveland Classic (on December 8 at Northfield Park), I turned him out at Peninsula Farm in Kentucky and I’m going to pick him up on Thursday (January 24),” offered McIntosh. “Him and Dapper Dude are both turned out down there. They are both coming in and I’m looking forward to that.
“Carter Duer is a man of few words down there,” he added. “No news is good news. They always look good when they come back from Peninsula.”
The 60-year-old horseman is grateful that he even gets to don a tuxedo on Saturday.
“It’s been four decades now. It’s just a real honour to still be hanging in there, getting recognized and going strong.”