Cot Campbell, who innovated horse racing ownership, dies

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NEW YORK — W. Cothran “Cot” Campbell, the South Carolina horseman who pioneered shared ownership of race horses and was an advocate for the American racing thoroughbred industry, has died. He was 91.

He died Saturday at his home in Aiken, South Carolina, the New York Racing Association said Sunday.

Campbell made his mark in 1969 when he introduced syndicated ownership, which features numerous owners sharing a percentage of the costs and the risk. It allowed new people to enter the expensive sport.

He founded Aiken-based Dogwood Stable. Among the champions that carried his green-and-yellow silks were 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall and 1996 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Storm Song, who won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s champion 2-year-old filly.

Dogwood had eight Kentucky Derby entrants from 1990 to 2013, and its best finish was second with Summer Squall in 1990.

Another Dogwood horse, Inlander, won an Eclipse Award as 1987’s champion steeplechaser.

Todd Pletcher, who trained many prominent horses for Dogwood including Palace Malice, recalled Campbell’s kindness and love of the sport.

“He always embraced the game with great enthusiasm. He loved horses, he loved horse racing and his impact on the industry, not only through Dogwood Stable, but through the number of new people he introduced to the game at the highest level is a major contribution to racing as we know it today,” Pletcher said. “He was always very kind and knew every groom’s name. He was a terrific person to work for. He gave a lot of young trainers over the years an opportunity and a chance to prove themselves.”

In August, Campbell was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York, as part of the Pillars of the Turf in recognition for “extraordinary contributions” in leadership positions or as pioneers in the industry.

“Years ago I bought a thousand-dollar filly with two pals and thus I stumbled into the idea of group ownership of a racehorse,” he told the Hall of Fame gathering. “It made sense and it caught on. Well over 1,200 people have come into racing through Dogwood. And I believe half the people racing horses in America are racing in some sort of partnership.”

A member of The Jockey Club, Campbell received an Eclipse Award of Merit in 2012.

“All my life I have been besotted with racehorses,” Campbell said in his Hall of Fame speech. “Now as I pointed out I’ve got a little age on me. I’m probably the only person in this building – or maybe this town – who ever saw Man o’ War. And I thank Man o’ War because he lit the fuse that caused me to pursue an absolutely wonderful life.”

In 2013, Campbell sold his Dogwood Stable client list to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and agreed not to compete with that group by forming new racing partnerships. On his own, however, he continued to campaign horses.

“Cot Campbell was a giant of thoroughbred racing and visionary thinker whose creation of syndicate racing partnerships brought countless new owners to the sport,” NYRA CEO and president Chris Kay said. “Cot was endlessly generous and devoted his time and spirit to a variety of philanthropic causes.”

Born Wade Cothran Campbell on Sept. 27, 1927, in New Orleans, he enlisted in the Navy on his 17th birthday and served on the USS Bull, a destroyer in the South Pacific and China seas from 1944-46.

Campbell held a variety of jobs, including valet car parker and citrus grove worker, before deciding to become a journalist. He worked at newspapers in Florida and Georgia, and later at advertising agencies in New Orleans and Atlanta. In 1964, he co-founded Burton-Campbell, which became one of the South’s leading ad agencies.

Campbell wrote three books: “Lightning in a Jar: Catching Racing Fever,” “Rascals and Racehorses: A Sporting Man’s Life,” and “Memoirs of a Longshot: A Riproarious Life.”

“I’ve had an absolutely wonderful life,” he said. “A hell of a lot of it is due to the lady I married, and a hell of a lot of it is due to the horses. My career in racing has taken me to Japan and Dubai and all over Europe. I’ve done business with the Aga Khan and Queen Elizabeth and Sheikh Mohammed (the ruler of Dubai). My life has been adventurous, glamorous, exciting and tumultuous. And no one could be more aware of it and more appreciative of it.”

He is survived by Anne, his wife of 59 years, daughters Lila Campbell and Cary Umhau, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Pegasus races planned for Gulfstream and Santa Anita in 2024

Horse racing on Opening day of the winter-spring meet at Santa Anita Park.
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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After seven Pegasus World Cup events, it’s evidently time for change.

1/ST Racing, which has hosted the entirety of the Pegasus series to this point at Gulfstream Park, is planning for two Pegasus days in 2024 – one at Gulfstream and the other at Santa Anita. Details aren’t finalized and it’s unclear how it would fit in the racing calendar, but 1/ST is planning for both dirt and turf Pegasus races as part of the Santa Anita program.

Gulfstream played host to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on the dirt Saturday, along with the $1 million Pegasus Turf and the $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf.

“I’d really love to see that we bring it to the West Coast,” 1/ST President and CEO Belinda Stronach said. “That will probably happen in 2024. What we did this year for 2023 was said, `OK, we have a number of great race days, let’s coordinate those better and call it the 1/ST Racing Tour and recognize great achievements within our own footprint.”

Saturday marked the first stop on that new 1/ST Racing Tour. Along with some of the biggest race days at 1/ST tracks – like Florida Derby day at Gulfstream on April 1, Santa Anita Derby day on April 8 and the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20 – there are a pair of days where the tour will be running simultaneously.

This coming Saturday, Gulfstream will play host to the Holy Bull while Santa Anita has the Robert B. Lewis – both of them Kentucky Derby prep races.

And on March 4, Gulfstream has the Fountain of Youth, another major Derby prep, while San Anita has the Big Cap. Plans call for coordinated post times at those two tracks on those days to provide the best racing action every 20 minutes, as well as some unique betting options.

“We can never rest on our laurels,” Stronach said. “We have to keep moving forward. We have a great team that’s really committed.”

The main Pegasus race is one of the biggest-paying races in North America. Art Collector claimed about $1.8 million from a $3 million purse with his win on Saturday. In 2022, only the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf featured bigger prizes among U.S. races, and the $3 million Pegasus purse is equal to the one offered last year at the Kentucky Derby.

Regardless of what happens with the Santa Anita plan for future Pegasus events, Stronach insisted Gulfstream will continue having Pegasus days. There has even been talk about Gulfstream playing host to Breeders’ Cup races again, something that hasn’t happened since 1999.

“This is staying here in Miami,” Stronach said. “Pegasus has a home here in Miami. We can’t move Pegasus from Miami. We have great partners here and it’s more than just a day now. We have deep roots here in Miami.”

Arabian Knight earns Baffert record 6th win in Southwest

Betway Challow Hurdle Day - Newbury Racecourse
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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Arabian Knight won the $750,000 Southwest Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths at Oaklawn, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record sixth victory in the race.

The colt came into the Kentucky Derby prep as one of the most highly touted 3-year-olds in the country. Arabian Knight, who was purchased for $2.3 million as a 2-year-old, was making his second career start and first on a sloppy track in front of 27,000 fans in Arkansas.

“These good horses are hard to come by,” said Baffert, who was on hand in Hot Springs. “We’ve had a lot of luck here at Oaklawn, so it was nice to have a horse like this.”

However, Arabian Knight was ineligible to earn the Kentucky Derby qualifying points awarded to the winner because Baffert has been suspended for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The penalty, which ends shortly after this year’s Derby on May 6, stems from Medina Spirit’s medication violation after the colt won the 2021 Derby and was later disqualified. Baffert is challenging the ban in court.

Ridden by John Velazquez, Arabian Knight ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:43.50 and paid $2.80 to win. He is 2-0 and has career earnings of $544,275.

“He ran 1:43 and change, that’s racehorse time and he did it without taking a deep breath,” Baffert said. “This was a big effort.”

Red Route One closed from last to finish second, and Frosted Departure was third. Sun Thunder was fourth, followed by Jace’s Road, Corona Bolt, El Tomate and Western Ghent.

At Gulfstream in Florida, Baffert’s entry Defunded finished second in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup, beaten by 4 1/2 lengths by Art Collector on Saturday.