L A Delight’s victory in the 46th edition of the Jugette was one of the ages for her connections — trainer Bob McIntosh, driver John Campbell, the C S X Stable and caretaker Nicole Pedden-MacQuarrie.
by Dave Briggs
No matter how you dissect it, L A Delight’s Jugette victory Wednesday was decades in the making — from the Hall of Fame trainer and driver duo who have spun magic together for nearly 40 years; to the Ohio boys that never lost hope of one day standing in winner’s circle at the Delaware County Fairgrounds when it mattered most on a Wednesday or Thursday and straight through three generations of a royal equine family cared for by one woman.
After John Campbell converted a perfect pocket trip in the second heat into a three-quarter length victory over first heat winner Call Me Queen Bee, the emotions bubbled over in the winner’s circle.
“It means a lot,” said Keith Carpenter, one of the three Carpenter brothers who, along with partner John Strock — all of Liberty Center, OH — have tried to win either a Little Brown Jug or Jugette for 25 years — 23 of those in partnership with Hall of Fame trainer Bob McIntosh of LaSalle, ON.
“We’ve been with Bob since ‘92 or ’93 and we’ve never wavered. We’ve got a great relationship and had a game plan. We wanted to buy good mares and we spent a lot of money early on buying good mares and now we’re reaping the benefits of those purchases,” Keith said of the group that includes his twin brother, Ken, and their older brother, Mike Carpenter.
One of those purchases came in 2002 when McIntosh, his cousin, Al McIntosh and the C S X Stables spent $115,000 to purchase a Camluck mare named Los Angeles at the Kentucky Standardbred Sale. Los Angeles quickly became one of McIntosh’s great foundation mares, producing a string of talented pacers that collectively earned north of $4 million, including L A Delight, who now sports career earnings of $932,253 with 18 wins in 25 starts.
Nicole Pedden-MacQuarrie not only groomed Los Angeles, the caretaker also looked after virtually all of the mare’s offspring and their offspring — 11 in total. No wonder she was smiling like she just hit the lottery as she cooled out L A Delight in the Jugette barn as pockets of golden sunshine danced at the hoofs of the homebred daughter of Bettors Delight out of Los Angeles’ daughter West Of L A.
“It’s so surreal. I can’t believe we were in the winner’s circle here today. I’m kind of shocked,” said Pedden-MacQuarrie who screamed herself hoarse. “These American fillies have been dominant. (L A Delight is) always giving 100 per cent, but being here four or five days out, getting out of her routine, it’s a little difficult for them all. But, she overcame it.”
L A Delight also overcame a judges’ inquiry in the $95,760 first heat when she made a break at the wire after finishing second by four-and-a-half lengths to Call Me Queen Bee who set a 1:50.1 world record for three-year-old pacing fillies on a half-mile track.
The judges ultimately kept L A Delight up, but Call Me Queen Bee was the one that made an emphatic statement.
“I think a lot of this is about gaining respect from the other people,” said Call Me Queen Bee’s driver Scott Zeron after the first heat. “Any time people talk about the three-year-old division they really leave my horse out and she really proved in the PA Final that she can play with the best of them.”
Zeron tried to steal the $143,640 final, going to the front out of the rail and trying to outsprint them to the wire, but Campbell sat patiently with L A Delight and had just enough filly to surpass Call Me Queen Bee in the lane.
Moments later, McIntosh said he couldn’t be happier for his partners — his cousin, Al, and the C S X boys.
“They’ve been supporters of Delaware for a long time,” McIntosh said, adding the C S X guys love the Jug so much they donated to help build the spectacular Jug barn many years ago and then noticed they were the only donors who had never won the Jug. They, like McIntosh, are still chasing that dream. Though, they did win the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup together in 2012 with Los Angeles’ son, Thinking Out Loud. Yes, Pedden-MacQuarrie was his caretaker, too.
“We’ve had some good horses in the Jug, but it just hasn’t worked out with post position or racing luck,” Strock said. “But winning the Jugette is like the North America Cup – they can’t take it away from us now. It’s in the bank,” Stock said.
“I think Bob said it best,” added Keith. “It means an awful lot when you raise them and it’s a great family. (L A Delight has) been special.”
For the old masters, this victory traces back to the late 1970s at dearly departed Windsor Raceway when McIntosh and Campbell teamed up for the first time to race a horse.
“She was a $4,000 claimer, and not a very good one,” McIntosh said, laughing.
Fast forward 40 years and Campbell was celebrating his record fifth Jugette victory and McIntosh — who won the Jugette in 1992 with So Fresh (with Campbell driving) and in 1994 with Electric Slide — had just tied Billy Haughton for the most trainer wins in the Jugette with three.
“I’m very humbled to be in the same class,” McIntosh said, referring to Haughton.
“As I get older, I get fewer opportunities, fewer people sending me horses. That’s just the way the business goes. It rewards youth,” McIntosh said. ‘I’ve had a good career and I’ve been lucky, but people just kind of turn the page on you and think you don’t take outside horses. Well, I do. I will take horses, but at least I have my homebreds.”
McIntosh and Pedden-MacQuarrie raced L A Delight’s dam in the 2009 Jugette. West Of L A finished fourth in the first heat and seventh in the final.
“I raced her second dam. She’s a true homebred,” McIntosh said of L A Delight. “To have John drive her and with all we’ve been through together, it’s just a great day. I can’t even describe it. It made my whole year.”