"I gave her kind of an extended vacation because she had a long two-year-old year and long three-year-old year," McIntosh told Trot Insider. "Probably just going to hang on until July to race her. That three turning four is a tough deal too, racing against the older mares."
L A Delight (Bettors Delight - West Of L A) concluded her sophomore season in late November, the 19th start of her three-year-old and 31st of her career. In those starts, she's won 20 and collected cheques in all but one -- a sixth-place finish after an uncharacteristic break at The Meadowlands in the Mistletoe Shalee.
McIntosh noted that he's thrilled with the way L A Delight returned from her well-earned winter break. She was turned out at Peninsula Farm until the end of February, and brought back into training at the start of March.
"She looks great, really put on a lot of muscle and she grew an inch or two," said McIntosh. "Last year was a long year, and she was in some tough races but she came out of it really well."
The veteran trainer indicated that he prefers to give his three- turning four-year-olds a later start just to give them a bit more of an advantage prepping for the major stakes. While fully cognizant of how difficult that jump to the older ranks cane be, McIntosh has certainly enjoyed his share of success with horses the likes of Ponder (2005 Canadian Pacing Derby) and Thinking Out Loud (2013 US Pacing Championship) pulling off major wins as four-year-olds. And that's not even considering the dominant 1992 season of pacing legend Artsplace, who did not taste defeat as a four-year-old en route to Horse of the Year honours on both sides of the border.
With a long list of champion pacing mares to his credit, McIntosh still quickly places L A Delight among the best he's ever developed.
"She's got the whole package: manners, gait, and she wants to win more than any horse I've ever trained," noted McIntosh. "She's got that desire to fight and fight down to the wire.
"They don't come along everyday so you learn to appreciate them and treat them right when they do come along."
L A Delight will need every bit of that fight in 2017, looking to compete in a division that includes dominant diva Lady Shadow as well as returning nemesis Pure Country. That competition wasn't enough for McIntosh to shut his homebred down and start her broodmare career. "Nowadays the money is there for the aged horses and mares."
A multiple O'Brien Award winner as a trainer and breeder, McIntosh will take a few days off from hands-on horse management as he's the special guest at the P.E.I. Standardbred Horse Owners Association's awards weekend.
The PEISHOA Awards Banquet takes place this Saturday, April 8 in Charlottetown, followed by a Breeders Information Seminar at Red Shores with McIntosh on Sunday.
"I've never been east of Quebec City, so it's going to be quite an experience," said McIntosh, who admitted he almost sent a horse to the Gold Cup & Saucer a few years back.
"It's crossed my mind. The year I had Ponder, that's what I was going to do but he came back so good...and the American National conflicted, that race went for around $200,000 so I had to make a business decision.
"I hope to have a horse to race out there sometime before it's all over with," he continued. "You never hear a bad report from people who've experienced it. They all get treated really well, nice people. If I don't have one good enough to go I might just go myself for the week."