"It’s a rags-to-riches story. Let’s just say I paid more than $1,000 for him, but not that much more."
William McIntyre will admit he’s a “small time” horse owner who got lucky, yet the Wisconsin native is relishing “his time” in the spotlight.
Indeed, McIntyre, 46, is riding high and undefeated at the Meadowlands Racetrack with Holdingallthecards. His four-year-old gelded son of Cams Card Shark won all four January starts in East Rutherford, NJ, and swept the Clyde Hirt Series. Trained by Scott Di Domenico and driven by Tim Tetrick, Holdingallthecards won the $67,400 Final in 1:51.1, and followed that up with a 1:52.4 triumph in the first leg of the Exit 16W Series on Saturday.
For McIntyre, Holdingallthecards is a horse of a lifetime.
“I’ve been involved with horses pretty much all my life,” he said. “My aunts, uncles and my father all worked full time and had them on the side, and we’re only three hours from Chicago. I have a trainer’s license, but when I race in Chicago my trainer is Bob Phillips. I work road construction in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. It’s been mainly just a hobby.”
McIntyre acquired Holdingallthecards through a unique twist of fate, and he didn’t have to break the bank to get the horse, but it took some patience to get him to the races.
"There was a dispersal of John Butenschoen’s two-year-olds, and this horse was in an online auction. A friend of mine, Dan Clark, who lives about 50 miles from me bought him in September, 2011. Dan got real busy with his job, didn’t have the time to work with the horse, the horse hadn’t done much for months, so he just sold him to me.
“I didn’t really see anything in this horse other than looking up his pedigree. He’s a Cams Card Shark and his dam had a few others who were good racehorses. When I got him we had to treat both tendons. They had quit with him after training him down as a two-year-old. We gave him a long time to get ready. Every once in a while you get lucky.”
Once Holdingallthecards hit the track last year, his progression was gradual and consistent, racing mainly at Balmoral Park.
“He did well when he came back and started racing last year in Chicago, winning 12 races and about $60,000,” noted McIntyre. “He worked his way up to the Invitational level. I knew of [trainer] Scott Di Domenico from Chicago, and he had a good reputation for taking care of horses, so we sent Holdingallthecards to him to race at the Meadowlands. When he first raced there I thought he’d have his work cut out for him. I knew he’d be in tough company, but as the weeks went on he kept winning, I just felt fortunate we had Tim Tetrick driving every week and Scott was doing such a great job. I’ve been impressed by his wins and his controlling speed.
“Going into the Clyde Hirt Final I didn’t think he could win it. Sometimes it’s racing luck, and Tim gave him a great drive and Scott had him ready.”
McIntyre is cautiously optimistic Holdingallthecards will be able to take the next step up and hold his own against the sport’s top four-year-old pacers.
“It was a good idea to give him a couple of weeks off after racing four weeks in a row,” he admitted. “It looks like Mr Dennis is his main opposition, yet there are four or five in this series that could be tough to deal with."
Fortunately, McIntyre found time to travel to the Meadowlands for the Clyde Hirt Final, and through the modern magic of simulcasting, he and his family have been able to cheer on his equine star from home.
“There’s a casino about a half hour away where I go to watch the races,” he noted. "The population of Mazomanie, Wisconsin is about 1,400, and I’m about 25 miles from Madison, which is the capitol. I’m about three hours from Lambeau Field. I was there when the New York Giants beat the Green Bay Packers two years ago. I have some family that grew up around horses and they’re real happy for my success.
“This is by far the best horse I’ve been associated with. I’m excited. I’ve watched the Meadowlands for a long time. I didn’t think I’d ever race there, never mind win a big race there. Those were my first starts there as an owner in January. I never had a horse that was this kind, and he’s the only one I own right now. I’ve had a few half way offers for him, but we’re going to ride this out and see how it goes. It’s my time.”