MISSISSAUGA, ON — For the second straight year Robert McIntosh and Don McElroy have teamed up to capture the Ontario Sires Stakes training and driving titles.

Leading the Johnston and Lampman Cup races at the midpoint of the season, the pair put the finishing touches on a tremendous year with Grassroots Championship victories for three-year-old pacing filly Its A Cam Lie and three-year-old trotting filly Crown Lavec. McIntosh also captured the two-year-old pacing colt Grassroots title with Tommy’s Luck and the two-year-old trotting colt Gold Series Super Final with Ethen Seelster.

“It’s a special award, of course everybody likes to win, but this year it was especially significant being teamed up with Bob McIntosh,” said McElroy. “This year just driving Bob’s horses was an advantage over everyone else. He had a really outstanding group of Ontario-breds.”

McElroy and McIntosh have been teaming up to produce winners for many years in a relationship that dates back to a childhood spent learning the business of harness racing at the knees of their fathers.

“Donny’s dad used to drive horses for my father so we go way back to when we were both kids,” said McIntosh. “That makes this extra rewarding.”

No stranger to industry accolades, McIntosh has been honoured as Canada’s Trainer of the Year and was also the Johnston Cup winner in 1994. He finished the OSS season 188 points ahead of the 1998, �99 and 2000 winner Ross Henry with 592 points. Starters hailing from his Windsor facility garnered 39 wins, 33 seconds, 31 thirds, 33 fourth and 17 fifths from 197 starts for total earnings of $1,787,820.

“This is a big honour because the Sires Stakes have grown to be such a big thing,” said McIntosh. “One thing that surprised me when I looked at the standings, I made $1.7 million this year and I think $900,000 last year. That shows you how good the Sires Stakes program is.

“We’ve invested quite heavily in the Sires Stakes market, a lot of homebreds as well as Ontario-bred yearlings that we purchased. Having a great program right in our back yard is a real bonus.”

In addition to his training facility McIntosh also operates an ever expanding breeding operation and finished off the season in fifth spot amongst the top breeders in North America. Ontario-bred youngsters hailing from the McIntosh nursery earned $546,813 and posted 13 wins, 12 seconds, 13 thirds, 16 fourths and 10 thirds in 87 starts. The veteran horseman also finished second on the owner’s list behind Cliff Siegel’s C. and I. Siegel Racing Stable (owners of two-year-old pacing colts Sir Luck and Boulder Creek) with $892,750 in earnings and a record of 18-20-15-19-9 in 110 starts.

“Bob does such a great job keeping them good all year long,” added McElroy. “I really like Bob and I like driving his colts. I respect him as a trainer. And we’ve been doing this long enough now we both feel very comfortable talking to each other. We discuss how they raced and how they acted, we communicate well.

“And a lot of the credit has got to go to his crew. Bob has some of the best people in the world working for him. His trainers and grooms are real professionals.”

McElroy earned his second ever Lampman Cup honour by making 160 starts at racetracks across the province, piloting horses to 33 wins, 25 seconds, 26 thirds, 29 fourths, 8 fifths and earnings of $687,184. The Ingersoll resident has concentrated on the Sires Stakes circuit for the past two summers, driving for trainers such as Budd Thorne in addition to McIntosh, and plans to be back to defend his title in 2003.

The Johnston and Lampman Cup are awarded annually to the top trainer and driver in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, based on a points system. The Johnston Cup was founded in 1993 in memory of Bruce Johnston, publisher of The Canadian Sportsman, while the Lampman Cup was established in 1987 in memory of longtime harness racing publicist Jim Lampman.