(Dave Landry photo: Trainer Doug McIntosh — shown warming up Yankee Paco at the Meadowlands in 2000 just prior to that horse becoming the first Canadian-bred Hambletonian winner — said the horse that started him on the Grand Circuit trail was a pacing mare named Baroness Barbara bred by his father, Jack McIntosh)
by Dave Briggs
Hambletonian-winning trainer Doug McIntosh of Wheatley, ON said the horse that changed his life “likely is one you would never think of. She wasn’t a world champion, but just a great mare and she got me to travel a little bit… I was just a young guy getting started.”
The horse was a pacing mare named Baroness Barbara bred and raised by McIntosh’s father, Jack. The mare, who foaled in 1970 and raced through her five-year-old season, was purchased by Leo Thibodeau of Windsor, ON, who ended up campaigning horses with Doug for more than 25 years.
“That was one of our first horses together,” Doug said. “She was just a great race mare. As a three-year-old she won the Chief Made pace at Blue Bonnets in Montreal. She went on to race in Lexington and won a heat of the Lexington Herald Leader.”
Baroness Barbara was a Baron Hanover filly out of a Success Barbara the great foundation mare Jack McIntosh purchased in 1956 in Delaware, OH. The family connection is even more special because Doug’s younger brother, Bob McIntosh, took care of Baroness Barbara before he struck out on his own as a trainer.
“I don’t know if (Bob) was grooming her when we went to Montreal, or not, but I think he was,” Doug said. “It was just one of those things that was special.”
Doug would go on to have a number of champions, including 2000 Hambletonian champion Yankee Paco, the first Canadian-bred to win North America’s greatest trotting race, but Baroness Barbara always was first in his heart.
“She was a sweetheart. She was just a really nice horse and would always try hard and give her best,” Doug said. “There have been a lot of other great horses that I’ve really enjoyed and made me a lot more money and brought me a lot more success, but this filly was dear to me and she would try so hard every time. To go to Montreal as a young kid for the Grand Circuit for that Chief Made pace and win it was pretty thrilling.”
In fact, that trip led to Doug being invited to take a stable to Montreal, which he did the very next year.
Thibodeau kept Baroness Barbara as a broodmare, but she produced just three foals before she died while in foal to superstar stud Most Happy Fella.
“That was his first crop. It would have been great,” Doug said.
“I think the other thing that made her special is that my father was alive then and I still have a picture somewhere of the retirement race at Windsor Raceway with Leo and my dad and my brother and myself all in the photo. It was pretty cool.”
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