Hollywood meets harness racing at Mohawk

03:35 AM 07 Jun 2014 NZST
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Emily Van Camp, harness racing
Actress Emily Van Camp - her namesake races Monday at Mohawk

Campbellville, ON --- The Van Camp family of Port Perry, Ontario, is well known both in Hollywood and in harness racing and the two shall meet on Monday night (June 9) at Mohawk Racetrack when the 3-year-old trotting colts contest their first Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots event of the season.

Robert Van Camp is the co-owner and breeder of Windsun Revenge. He shares ownership of the horse’s dam, Oaklea Polly, with Harley Harkness of Uxbridge, Ontario, who operates Windsun Farm which explains the gelding’s first name. The Revenge part is in honor of the hit television show Revenge which stars Van Camp’s daughter, Emily, who is also known for her roles on Everwood and Brothers And Sisters.

Robert Van Camp and Harley Harkness purchased Oaklea Polly, a daughter of Balanced Image, at the end of her racing career where she earned just under $20,000 for trainer John Bax.

“She’s a full sister to Oaklea Omega (a winner of $396,217, also for Bax),” explained Van Camp who also owns another sister, Oaklea Uppity, in partnership with Bax.

“Oaklea Omega sold for a lot of money to Europe and I thought Oaklea Polly was her spitting image. She had some bad luck and an injury so Harley and I bought her when her racing career was over.”

Windsun Revenge is her second foal.

“Her first one sold at Harrisburg for $22,000 and this colt came along the year of the crash (when the slots at racetracks program was cancelled in Ontario). I liked him very much so I bought him back for $9,700,” said Van Camp who owns and operates Brooks Feed Company in Port Perry, which services a multitude of equine owners.

“I contacted Jeff Durham who is one of our dealers and also trains horses. He’s a hard working young man and I asked him to break this colt for me. He liked him and asked me if he could buy in so now he owns a share. I’m hoping for his sake the horse does well.”

Windsun Revenge showed promise last year as a 2-year-old, finishing third in an OSS Gold event at Grand River Raceway in just his second lifetime start. However, a bone chip limited his season to just four starts.

This year at three the son of Kadabra has made five starts to date including a recent win at Mohawk in a life best of 1:57.4. Chris Christoforou was in the sulky for that win and will be back at the lines for Monday’s start where Windsun Revenge has drawn post one in the fifth of six C$18,000 divisions of the Grassroots event.

This will mark Windsun Revenge’s first appearance at the Grassroots level and his performance on Monday will determine if he continues there or moves up to the Gold.

“We’ll let him prove himself, he’s got some talent. There is major competition in the Gold as well as the Grassroots, there are a lot of really good colts out there. The quality of horses competing in the OSS is unbelievable.”

Van Camp isn’t the only member of his immediate family with an interest in trotters.

His father Glenn bred and co-owned one of the greatest trotters ever bred in the province, the $3 million winner San Pail. His brother Paul has owned a myriad of top performers over the years including last year’s Hambletonian starter Your So Vain.

“I actually got involved in owning horses before they did, they’ve just had better ones,” laughed Robert. “I’m always trying to raise a good trotter. I think it’s important in my business to be involved in the industry. That way I can understand exactly what my customers are going through and relate to it as I’m in it myself.”

Post time for Monday night’s races at Mohawk is 7:25 p.m. The OSS sophomore trotting colts will be spotlighted in races one, two, three, five, eight and nine. The full card may be viewed through this link.

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