Day At The Track

Clinton fans give Campbell a legendary send off

12:28 PM 31 Jul 2017 NZST
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John Campbell
John Campbell thanks Clinton Raceway fans and his family after the Legends Trot, which the Ailsa Craig native said would “in all probability” be his final drive.
Ontario Sire Stakes Photo

JULY 30, 2017 - Harness racing fans turned out in droves on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Clinton Raceway's Legends Day and the final drive of Ailsa Craig native John Campbell.

"Good crowd today, the weather cooperated, it's great, great for the industry," said Hall of Fame trainer Bob McIntosh. "John deserves it."

The autograph session with Campbell and his fellow legends Bill O'Donnell, Doug Brown, Steve Condren, Mike Lachance, Dave Miller, Dave Wall, Ron Waples, Bud Fritz and Keith Waples, was scheduled from 1 to 2 pm, but stretched on well past 3 pm as fans waited their turn to greet the legendary horsemen and bid farewell to both Campbell and O'Donnell.

The pair hung up their driving suits in the afternoon's final race, the $15,000 Legends Trot, which went to Ontario Sired mare Lady Caterina, driven by Steve Condren.

"I didn't know John made a break, so I feel a lot better now that he made a break," said Condren, to laughter from the large crowd gathered around the winner's circle. The reinsman piloted Lady Caterina to the 1:58.1 win for trainer Alan Fair and owner Elizabeth Fair of Ancaster, ON.

Given the last opportunity at the microphone Campbell thanked the fans, the owners and trainers he worked with over his storied career, and most of all his family. The winner of over $300 million then reflected on his career.

"It's funny how things work out, I made a break and finished last in my first race, 45 years later I finished last and made a break here at Clinton, but it's been okay in the middle," said Campbell to applause and laughter.

"Anybody here that knows me knows what an influence my dad (Jack Campbell) was, and he always told me don't ever say never, it's a really long time. So with that caveat I'll say, in all probability, this will be my last drive," said Campbell, bringing his legendary driving career to an official, if qualified, close.

While the legends greeted their autograph seeking fans, Ontario's two-year-old trotting fillies provided the on-track entertainment, competing in a trio of $18,450 Grassroots events. The fastest winner of the three divisions was Bob McIntosh trainee Kant Afford It, who cruised along on the front end to a 2:05 triumph, four and one-half lengths ahead of Melanie G and Dalliance Seelster.

Elora, ON resident Bob McClure piloted the fan favourite to her first lifetime victory for Windsor, ON resident McIntosh and his partner C S X Stables of Liberty Center, OH, who also bred the daughter of Kadabra and Urge To Splurge.

"I was pretty confident. She trains on my half-mile track at home so I knew she was good in the turns, she's solid, so I had a good feeling," admitted McIntosh. "She's a big strong filly, she's really big and really growthy, so I think she'll get better and better.

At the conclusion of the Legends Day festivities, which saw fans and supporters raise over $57,000 for the Clinton Public Hospital Foundation, McIntosh said he and his wife Patty were having dinner with Campbell and his family. The Hall of Famers have been friends since their earliest days in the business.

"Since we were kids in London, at Western Fair, back in the 60s, I'm dating myself," said McIntosh with a laugh.

The other Grassroots divisions went to Frick and Sheza Chunkymonkey, who stopped the Clinton teletimer in 2:06 and 2:08.4 respectively, off front-end efforts.

Arthur resident Trevor Henry piloted Frick to her first lifetime win for trainer Gary Oliver and his partners Oliver Delmaple Holdings Ltd. and Dawn Hass of Cobourg, ON. Bonnie Breeze and Stand For Justice finished one and one-quarter lengths back in second and third.

"She does everything right, unbelievable," said Oliver, noting that the daughter of Johnny William and B Cor Tanya has been a pleasure to work with since arriving in his barn when she was a weanling. "And now we're having fun."

Trainer Travis Henry piloted Sheza Chunkymonkey to her first victory for his wife Maddi Henry and their partners Princeton Farms Inc., all of Embro, ON. The daughter of Majestic Son and Stonebridge Amanda reached the wire one length ahead of Justice Rules and Carnegie Hall.

"We saw her at Harrisburg, well Maddi McNiven, now Henry, picked her out," said Princeton Farms' Jesse Belore. "Training down all winter, we had a few bumps, but she pulled through today.

"As long as she stayed trotting, that's what we were hoping for. It's nerve wracking here," Belore added.

The two-year-old trotting fillies will make their fourth Grassroots start at Mohawk Racetrack on August 10. Ontario Sires Stakes action returns to Clinton Raceway on Sunday, Aug. 27 with the fourth Grassroots event for the two-year-old pacing colts.

OSS Program Information

For rules, notices, Program changes, up-to-date point standings, race replays, and more, visit: www.ontariosiresstakes.com

Ontario Racing

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