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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.

Second horse in 4 days dies at Santa Anita

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Santa Anita had its second horse death in four days when a gelding pulled up during a race Sunday and was euthanized a day later.

Twenty-five horses have now died in racing or training at the Southern California track since Dec. 26.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Spectacular Music was running in a six-furlong maiden claiming race when the jockey pulled the horse up on the backstretch shortly after leaving the gate.

The horse was taken off the course with a pelvis injury and the decision to euthanize him was made Monday morning.

On Friday, a 3-year-old horse broke down with a shoulder injury while galloping and was euthanized at the track.

Santa Anita is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup Nov. 1-2. It’s considered the biggest two-day event in U.S. horse racing.

Preakness winner War of Will likely to run in Belmont

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BALTIMORE (AP) Owner Gary Barber called trainer Mark Casse for the fourth time in 11 hours since War of Will won the Preakness.

Only this time, Casse was in the middle of holding court with reporters the morning after his first Triple Crown victory.

“All’s good and we’re going to the Belmont?” Casse said to Barber with a Cheshire cat grin. “I was kidding. I was making that up.”

Well, not totally.

Assuming all goes well in the coming weeks, Casse said “there’s an extremely good shot” War of Will goes to the Belmont Stakes on June 8 in New York. If he wins, he’d be the first horse since Afleet Alex in 2005 to fall short in the Kentucky Derby before capturing the Preakness and Belmont and would be the front-runner for 3-year-old horse of the year.

“It’s the third leg of the Triple Crown, who doesn’t want to win it?” Casse said Sunday. “There are only three Triple Crown races, and they’re pretty important. I think if you can do it you should do it. …

“That’s what we do. We run.”

Those watching the Preakness saw a horse run the entire race and then some after throwing off his jockey out of the starting gate, a scene that – once it was clear rider John Velazquez was OK – served as a reminder of how much thoroughbreds love to run. Bodexpress provided a memorable spectacle as War of Will fulfilled his potential at Pimlico.

The Belmont is another substantial test for the tough and talented War of Will because it’s a third race in six weeks and is the longest of the Triple Crown races at 1+ miles.

There won’t be a Kentucky Derby rematch with Maximum Security, who was disqualified for interfering with War of Will, or Country House, who was placed first and since been sidelined by illness. And two-time Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert said he probably won’t take Improbable to the Belmont after finishing out of the money in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness as the favorite.

But War of Will could have to contend with Derby returners Tacitus, Master Fencer and perhaps Baffert’s Game Winner, along with Preakness surprise second-place finisher Everfast, third-place runner Owendale and ninth-place Signalman. Trainer Bill Mott ruled out Country House but is planning to take Tacitus to the Belmont and figures the gray colt will have no problem in a significantly longer race.

“He should handle it fine,” Mott said by phone Saturday. “My guess was that he’d handle the Derby distance fine, which he did. I was pleased. I think it goes the same for the Belmont. I think it’s within his grasp.”

If the Preakness had more than an extra quarter-mile, closers Everfast and Owendale might’ve put a scare into War of Will on Saturday. Everfast was a late entry by trainer Dale Romans three days before the race and opened at 50-1 but showed he might be a good long-distance runner.

“We almost had it,” Everfast jockey Joel Rosario said. “He ran great. We have a great shot at the Belmont.”

Tacitus, Everfast and Owendale will be strong challengers, but this should be War of Will’s Belmont to lose. Had he not endured such a rough trip in and been interfered with at Churchill Downs on May 4, there could be another wave of Triple Crown talk going on right now about a third winner in five years.

But Casse isn’t thinking about that, still grateful War of Will avoided going down in the Derby and was able to rebound and run well in the Preakness. He’ll monitor the horse back at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky, to make sure a sore foot and his energy level are good enough to run in the Belmont on a three-week turnaround.

Casse can’t predict how War of Will responds this time, but he knows what it would mean if the horse comes out on top once again.

“He’s just an athlete,” Casse said. “It would just show that he’s tough and able to overcome things.”