John Campbell is a champion Canadian reinsman. But this J. Campbell is probably not the world famous one you are thinking of. This J. Campbell was born John Brandon Campbell but is also known by his middle name - and just like his $275 million namesake this Campbell is also a better than average harness racing driver.
Last season’s leading driver at Grand Prairie Raceway and the former champion at Alberta Downs is now concentrating on the Ontario circuit where he also hopes to make a bigger name for himself.
“I’m trying to get caught in at Ontario tracks. I’ve been here three months now and although it’s not easy breaking in, I am doing a bit of travelling and getting three, four, and five drives here and there. The aim is to get full books at most meetings,” the Alberta (Calgary) native told Harnesslink.
Campbell has seven drives at Kawartha Downs today (Thursday July 28), three at Woodstock tomorrow, and one each at Flamboro Downs and Hanover Raceway on Saturday. He’s also one drive behind his own horse at Clinton Raceway on Sunday.
“This is where I want to be. It’s where the money is and although there are plenty of good drivers here I know what I can do and it’s just a matter of convincing and letting trainers and owners see what I can do.
“This is all I’ve ever done after running away from school at 14. In fact I’ve been involved for more than half my life,” the now 28-year-old said.
Campbell’s uncles, cousins and father – Sanford were all involved in harness racing in Calgary.
“Dad raced horses and I worked for a few trainers including Joe Stutzman before returning to work with Dad at the age of 17. I got my trainers license at 18 and worked for Dad who had about 35 horses. He would do the young ones on our farm and I would work the 17 or so racehorses from Stampede Park or Alberta Downs,” Campbell said.
Prior to relocating to Ontario Campbell drove at Albert Downs, Northlands Park and Fraser Downs.
In fact he finished second on the 2011 Fraser Downs driving premiership with 26 wins – 19 behind champion, Ed Hensley.
“It was time for a change and I’m glad I went with it. I don’t mind being a Gypsy and I enjoy a challenge and I’m getting exactly that. I’m also willing to put in my dues in order to drive seven days a week,” said Campbell who also trains two pacers – July 7 Kawartha winner Cigar Hall and Bohemian Bliss, who lines up at Clinton on Sunday.
Campbell has actually trained 256 winners and won $1.58 million in purses since 2001 – including five victories in 2011.
In the sulky he has saluted the judge 514 times since 2003. He’s also placed 856 times from his 3,199 lifetime starts for $3,042,107 in career purses.
He’s won 60 races ($388,368) so far this season – 85 less than his best total last year when he nabbed 145 wins and $745,177.
Campbell is based at the Emerald Island Training Center in Troy.
Asked what the biggest race he had so far won, Campbell replied:
“The $100,000 Princess Of The Pacific Final at Fraser Downs in March 2009. It was an open mares stakes race and I also trained the winner – amare named Hot Night.”
And what about the best horse he had driven?
“I think the fastest would be former Kiwi pacer Flem N Em at Kawartha Downs last Saturday. We were beaten into second but he went 1:50.3 that day. Back home we usually go 1:51 or 1:52 at best, so at this stage of my career he would certainly be the one,” Campbell said.
Outside of harness racing Campbell said he loved spending time with his girlfriend of almost four years – Jodi Loftus.
“I also like to go out fishing but harness racing is more than a full-time job – it’s a lifestyle. I’m kept real busy with the horses at the moment – and I like it that way,” Campbell said.
By Duane RANGER (editor)
(1) The fastest horse the Brandon Campbell has driven - Flem N Em N – seen here winning at Mohawk on June 25, 2011:
(2) Brandon Campbell's home town - Calgary City, Alberta: