Hall of Fame trainer Bob McIntosh could experience another first this year when he sends two sophomore pacerspostward in the famed Little Brown Jug, set for Thursday at Ohio's Delaware County Fair.
McIntosh had never won the Pepsi North America Cup, the world's richest race for 3-year-old pacers, until this past June at Mohawk. Thinking Out Loud stormed home late to capture the $1.5 million classic and Dapper Dude was able to hold on to finish third.
The same two pacers will duke it out in separate Jug eliminations, hoping to advance to the $487,550 final, which will be contested as a second heat on the same day.
"It would be a big deal (to win the Jug),” said McIntosh, a four-time O'Brien Award winner as Canada's top trainer. "Growing up the Jug was the Holy Grail. Just growing up in the business it has always been kind of a sacred thing. Obviously there are bigger money races nowadays, but the Jug itself is just a very prestigious race to win. It's a tough one to win because it comes down to a half-mile track and a lot of luck, too.”
To win the 67th edition of the Jug with either colt would be extra special for the conditioner because they are both homebreds.
Thinking Out Loud, a son of Ponder-Los Angeles, will leave post five in the first $78,008 elimination for driver Randy Waples. The brown colt is nearing $1 million in lifetime earnings. The eight-time career winner has banked $978,290 for McIntosh, who shares ownership of thepacer with his cousin Al McIntosh and CSX Stables.
Dapper Dude, a chestnut son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest, will also leave post five, but in the second elimination and with Hall of Fame driver John Campbell at the helm. The nine-time career winner,who captured a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship, has amassed $559,410 in lifetime earnings for the McIntoshes.
"Thinking Out Loud might be a little quicker off the gate for the half-mile track,” offered McIntosh. "Dapper Dude just keeps coming. He is a grinder, which on a half-mile track is a little tougher. We got two good pilots so we'll see what happens.
"They've had a good week,” he added. "Dapper Dude had a tough trip last week in the Simcoe (Stakes at Mohawk). He got shoved three-wide going to the half. He raced okay. The line doesn't indicate it, but he's good. He trained up good. Thinking Out Loud was second in (1):48.4 in Lexington to Bolt The Duer. We cut out all the fractions so I was happy with him.”
McIntosh is confident that his pupils will put their best hoof forward this Thursday.
"Being in Delaware so many times I know it comes down to how the race shakes out,” said the decorated horseman. "Of course front-end speed holds up so well there, I don't know if it is going to be the strong part for the pair of my horses or not. I'm sure they will put in a good effort if little speed goes and they get sucked up into it. I think they both can kick home pretty good.”
While McIntosh hasn't won the Jug, he has won the Jugette, the race's filly equivalent, with So Fresh (1992), Electric Slide (1994) and Artistic Pleasure (1997). This year, for the 42nd edition of the Jugette, Shelliscape, a brown daughter of Artiscape-Shell I Scoot, will contest one of two eliminations on Wednesday in hopes to advance it to the $296,050 final later on in the day.
"We've been racing her in the New York Sire Stakes,” said McIntosh. "She's held her own. She won one up in Batavia. She's had a third and a fourth. She is good on a half(-mile track). It's a tough bunch of fillies.”
The pacing miss, who is owned by McIntosh, C S X Stables and DM Stables LLC, has crafted a lifetime record of 6-3-5 from 24 starts and has a $335,328 bankroll. (WEG)