08/29/2014 9:37AM

Red Mile: Campbell & McIntosh team up for Kentucky Sire Stakes Finals

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John Campbell waves goodbye to the old Meadowlands grandstand.

When John Campbell steers a pair of Robert McIntosh-trained youngsters in Sunday’s Kentucky Sire Stakes Finals at The Red Mile, he’ll be continuing a tradition that began decades ago.

“Bob’s father raced against both my father and my grandfather,” Campbell, 59, offered. “Our families began their foray into harness racing at the county fair level in Ontario years ago.”

Campbell, the sport’s leading money-winning driver ($287,877,865 & 10,708 wins) and a member of the American and Canadian Harness Racing Halls of Fame, started driving for McIntosh in 1976.  Over the years he’s collaborated on some of McIntosh’s finest protégé’s, including champions Artsplace, Ponder, and Western Shooter. McIntosh, 62, has conditioned 3,284 winners to $81,184,632 in career earnings and was inducted into the Canadian Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2010.

“That’s five decades of a solid partnership,” Campbell admitted. “We’ve got a lot of history together.”

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The Ontario-based McIntosh will harness a pair of 3-year-old pacers—a colt and a filly, both by Ponder out of Intrepid Seelster mares—for Campbell on Aug. 31 at Lexington’s clay one-miler, where eight $175,000 divisions of Kentucky Sire Stake Finals for 2- and 3-year-olds, split by gait and gender, will commence.

Campbell’s first mount is On Golden Ponder, who’ll start from post one in race 13, vying against five rivals.  This bay colt won over this oval last year as a freshman, stopping the timer in 1:54 2/5 in a $30,000 KYSS test on Aug. 22, 2013.  He posted a scorching 1:52 2/5 world-record clocking in the $52,544 Standardbred at Delaware, drawing off by 6 ½ lengths with Campbell at the lines.  That time is still the standard for a 2-year-old colt on a half-mile track.

The pacer earned $74,965 at 2 from nine starts with four wins and one second, and this season has had just two starts—triumphing twice for Campbell at Lexington on Aug. 10 (in 1:57 2/5) and on Aug. 24 (in 1:54 3/5).

“I was very pleased with the way he raced these last two starts,” Campbell confirmed. “Bob (McIntosh) has played catch-up with him because he injured himself last winter, and he gave him plenty of time to recover. He doesn’t have any quirks—he’s very professional and easy to drive.”

On Golden Ponder is owned by the McIntosh Stables, Inc., of LaSalle, ON; CSX Stables of Liberty Center, OH; and Michael Kohler of Grosse Pointe Woods, MI.  He was bred by McIntosh and CSX Stables and is the third foal out of the Intrepid Seelster mare In Trepid Water p,3,1:51 3/5s ($410,748), with a pair of half-siblings: Great Waters p,2,1:55 1/5f ($33,281) and Cool Like That p,3, 1:52h ($106,844)—both by The Panderosa.

“Last year he was very aggressive behind the gate, but he’s settled down considerably now and does his job like a gentleman,” Campbell added.

McIntosh conditioned both of On Golden Ponder’s parents.  In Trepid Water was a top mare on the Ontario Sire Stake circuit as a 3-year-old and Ponder p,5, 1:48 1/5 ($1,522,936), when he retired, was the fastest and richest son of The Panderosa. Campbell was the regular pilot behind Ponder during his final season, steering him to $679,191 as a 5-year-old in 2006.

Campbell’s other McIntosh-conditioned mount is Somethinincredible, who starts from post five against six contenders in Race 14.  This sophomore lass had a terrific 2-year-old season—earning $211,831 via four wins, one second and one third in 13 starts.  She recorded a Q1:54 4/5 time at Mohawk on Oct. 30, 2013 and won her $30,000 elim (in 1:56 3/5) and $250,000 KYSS Final (in 1:55 3/5) at The Red Mile last fall.

More recently, Somethinincredible finished second twice in a pair of $15,000 KYSS legs on Aug. 10 (in 1:56.1) and on Aug. 24 (in 1:55).

“Bob and I expected a little more from her this year,” Campbell acknowledged. “She’s slick-gaited, sound and handy to drive, but isn’t finishing her miles as strong as she did last season.  She hasn’t raced poorly, she’s just not as strong as we expected, based on her freshman year.”

Somethinincredible has amassed $220,271 to date and is still looking for her first 3-year-old win.  She is owned and was bred by McIntosh, the CSX Stable and Dave Boyle of Bowmanville, ON, and is the third of five foals out of the Intrepid Seelster mare Breathdefying p,3,1:51 1/5s ($220,507)—another top McIntosh-trained Ontario Sire Stake filly.  Somethinincredible has full sistersin Defying Gravity p,3,1:52 1/5f ($55,130) and Make Some Memories 3, Q1:56 3/5 ($55,598).

On a side note, the Campbell-McIntosh connection has the distinction of winning the last two races contested at the old Meadowlands.  On Aug. 3, 2013, Campbell piloted Thinking Out Loud to a 1:47 2/5 clocking in the $213,650 US Pacing Championship, the 14th race on the card (that time equaled Campbell’s fastest-ever race win, as he drove Bettor Sweet to a Graduate elim victory on May 9, 2009 at The Big M in 1:47 2/5). Campbell then guided Dapper Dude to a 1:49 2/5 triumph in a $40,000 Free For All, Race 15, carrying their partnership into that defunct winner’s circle, and into harness racing history.

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