Thinking Out Loud will try to become the ninth pacer in history to parlay a win in the North America Cup into a Meadowlands Pace victory.
Thinking Out Loud's NA Cup win. (New Image Media)
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob McIntosh, the three-year-old son of Ponder drew post three in the second of two $50,000 eliminations for the Pace, carded as races five and six on the 13-race program on Saturday night. The top five finishers in each elim advance to the $600,000 final on July 14.
Elimination winners pick their post positions for the final. Randy Waples, the 2011 O’Brien Award winner as Canada’s top driver, looks to qualify for his first Meadowlands Pace drive with Thinking Out Loud.
Thinking Out Loud has won seven of 10 career starts, and never been off the board, earning $847,638 for Robert McIntosh Stables of Lasalle, Ontario; C S X Stables of Liberty Center, Ohio; and Al McIntosh Holdings of Leamington, Ontario.
In the $1.47 million North America Cup, the lightly raced Ontario-bred son of Ponder stormed home to an 8-1 upset in 1:47.4, equaling the Canadian record set by Sweet Lou in his elimination the week before. The win gave Waples and McIntosh their first North America Cup win.
The victory was extra sweet for McIntosh having bred the colt and raced the sire, the dam (Los Angeles) and the dam’s sire (Camluck).
“The North America Cup was certainly an emotional win for us,” said McIntosh. “My cousin, Al, is a partner on the horse. He was the first guy to put faith in me and gave me my first horse to train back in 1977.
“The horse was very sharp that night, but you always need some luck. The race shaped up well for us with the hot early pace. I don’t think anybody could’ve seen those kinds of fractions [:25.2, :52.4 and 1:20.3].
"It took its toll on Warrawee Needy and Sweet Lou also got caught up in it. Turning for home, I actually thought my other horse Dapper Dude (third) was going to win. He raced tremendous as well. Randy said he was sitting with a lot of horse off the last turn and had a good feeling.
“Dapper Dude qualified last Friday (fourth behind Thinking Out Loud) and John Campbell said he was sub-par. We scoped him and he was full of mucus. We thought it was in the best interest of the horse to shut him down for now. We’ll aim for Adios with him.”
Thinking Out Loud has been a standout for McIntosh since day one and reinforced his faith in his sire Ponder.
Thinking Out Loud and his connections following his Cup win. (New Image Media)
“He was training down as our best colt last year,” noted McIntosh. “He showed tremendous ability as a two-year-old and Randy Waples really liked him. He got injured (a bone bruise), we shut him down and that was an easy call.
"The colt had a good winter and came back in fine shape. I know there’s another colt by Ponder in our elimination (Bolt The Duer). He only has a small crop. Maybe people will wake up and see he’s an underrated sire.”
Thinking Out Loud has made a smooth transition across the border.
“We freshened him up, he qualified last Friday (in 1:52.2) at Mohawk. He’s pretty easy on him himself. We were going to ship him down to Showplace Farms. We trained him a little bit (Wednesday) morning, and he’ll travel down overnight. I have no concerns about him shipping.”
With the recent decision by the Ontario government to end the slots-at-racetrack program in March of 2013, McIntosh carries a heavy heart as he looks for his first Meadowlands Pace win after four finals and two third-place finishes.
“Winning a race like the Meadowlands Pace takes on a special meaning because of what’s happening up here in Ontario right now. It’s terrible, it defies logic and it’s an unbelievable nightmare. We’ve had a lot of sleepless nights.”
McIntosh is a member of the Hall of Fame in both the US and Canada, a seven-time O’Brien Award winner as Canada’s top trainer, and twice been named Canada’s Horseman of the Year and the Glen Garnsey Award winner for top trainer in the US.