When John Campbell turns Go Daddy Go to the gate in the $667,000 Metro Pace final Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack, he's hoping it will prove to be another successful chapter in a partnership with trainer Bob McIntosh that goes back nearly 40 years.
A week after winning his Metro elimination by one-and-a-quarter lengths over Lyons Levi Lewis in a career-best 1:52.4, Go Daddy Go will leave from the two hole in an effort to deliver the first Metro title to McIntosh and the fifth for Campbell.
"He's a tough guy,” McIntosh said of Go Daddy Go. "He doesn't mind being first up. He's versatile that way. He's maybe not the best on the front end, yet. He's a little green. But, coming at horses he's awfully impressive. He reminds me a lot of his dad, Ponder. There wasn't a tougher horse around. He was as game as they came.”
Go Daddy Go, who is also owned by Dave Boyle, hasn't been off the board in his seven lifetime starts. He sports a 3-3-1 record, with wins in the $200,000 Battle of Waterloo at Grand River Raceway and a strong second in his $90,000 Nassagaweya test on Aug. 14 at Mohawk that convinced McIntosh to take a shot at the Metro.
"He hasn't gone a bad race,” Campbell said. "He's figuring it out as he goes. He's got the desire part. You can't teach that… He keeps improving and doing his work. He's just a very solid colt.”
Campbell, 59, and McIntosh, 62, are both Hall of Famers in Canada and the United States that have teamed up on innumerable champions.
"The oldtimers are still at it – him and I,” McIntosh said, laughing. "Over the years we've had some good ones. It's been a great run and John's still driving like a young guy. He's still the best. He hasn't lost a beat.”
Saturday, Campbell will drive all four of the horses McIntosh has entered on the stakes-rich card. He'll pilot Lasting Appeal in the $207,689 Simcoe, Thinking Out Loud in the $634,000 Canadian Pacing Derby and Dapper Dude in the $34,000 Preferred.
The first horse Campbell drove for McIntosh was a $5,000 claiming mare named Brilliant Bonnie in 1977 at Windsor Raceway.
"She was an orangutan,” McIntosh said.
"She was no fun to drive. I do remember that,” Campbell said. "She was no Go Daddy Go.”
Go Daddy Go is a homebred colt out of McIntosh's mare San Francine. She has also produced Daddy Mac ($600,000), Change Your Luck ($180,000) and Miss Maverick ($230,000).
"She'd made me a lot more money breeding than racing,” McIntosh said of San Francine.
McIntosh also bred San Francine, a mare sired by Artsplace, who, in 1990, became the first of Campbell's four Metro winners. At the time, Artsplace was trained by Gene Riegle. Later in the colt's career, McIntosh trained Artsplace.
In 1999, Campbell won the Metro with The Firepan and denied McIntosh his first Metro victory. The trainer was a close second and third that year with Intrepid Seelster and Richess Hanover. Two years later, Campbell and McIntosh were on the verge of winning the Metro together with Western Shooter when the talented colt made a late break in deep stretch.
"That was my fault. That was a whip break,” Campbell said.
Further tragedy struck when Western Shooter died before he could begin a promising sophomore campaign.
"Yeah, we've had a lot of success over the years and some really good horses, but I think the first one that would come to (McIntosh's) mind and mine as well is Western Shooter,” Campbell said. "He passed away between his two- and three-year-old year, but that might have been the best horse we had and we never got to prove it. He was just tremendous, just so strong. He just kept getting better all year. We really had high hopes for him.”
Go Daddy Go might not be in Western Shooter's class just yet, but John Campbell would dearly love to win the Metro for Bob McIntosh.
"I know Artspeak will be the huge favorite,” McIntosh said. "But there's a reason they hook them up and race them because anything can happen.”--By Dave Briggs for WEG