Canadian Hall of Famer Bob McIntosh celebrated his 4,000th training win on an electric Saturday night at Meadowlands Racetrack as his millionaire homebred pacer Thinking Out Loud slipped up the pylons to take the $30,000 Free For All Handicap Pace in the final strides.
Driven by another Hall of Famer, John Campbell, even-money favourite Thinking Out Loud left from the outside post six and settled into a pocket spot behind All Star Legend (Yannick Gingras) through a :26.1 opening panel.
All Star Legend led the way to the half in a rated :55.3 with Wake Up Peter (Mike Lachance) moving first over and up to pressure at the 1:23.1 third quarter mark. That left Thinking Out Loud boxed in and searching for room at the pylons down the lane. He eventually squeezed through in deep stretch and prevailed in a three-way photo finish over the quick-closing Ultimate Beachboy (Brett Miller) and All Star Legend.
The five-year-old gelding is by the sire Ponder and Camluck mare Los Angeles, all of which McIntosh campaigned. Thinking Out Loud, who was a 1:47.2 winner in The Meadowlands' U.S. Pacing Championship last year, previously provided the Windsor, Ont. conditioner with another major career accomplishment in winning his first Pepsi North America Cup title in 2012.
The pacer is owned by the Robert McIntosh Stables along with Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. of Leamington, Ont., and C S X Stables of Liberty Center, Ohio.
McIntosh's milestone win came in front of a large crowd estimated to be in excess of 14,000 in attendance as Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment played host to JerseyFest.
This year the event included a competition between 17 food trucks competing for prizes and recognition, as well as vendors and artisans from all over the Garden State on-site sampling and selling their wares. The weather finally cooperated with a pleasant, dry evening.
The festival began around 5 p.m. Saturday evening and the track apron and outfield park filled quickly. A portion of the crowd crept into the grandstand as the evening wore on with many drawn to the racing by the visual displayed on the high definition infield video screen. The design of the new grandstand nicely integrates the racing with events held outside with the track and horses in close proximity to the fans.
An added attraction was the appearance by Victor Espinoza, the jockey set to ride California Chrome in his date with destiny next week in the Belmont Stakes as he tries to be the first winner of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing since 1978. Espinoza greeted fans and signed autographs, joined in a winner's circle ceremony that included WNBC sportscaster Bruce Beck and spoke with Sam McKee about the upcoming race.
by Darin Zocalli, for the Meadowlands