Trainer Jim Campbell has two solid reasons to feel confident in his quest for a second Hambletonian.
The private trainer for Jules Siegel’s Fashion Farms will send out a pair of their three-year-old colts at the Meadowlands in Saturday’s eliminations for the $1.5 million Hambletonian on August 4.
There are 25 colts split into three $70,000 eliminations. The top three finishers, plus the fourth place finisher with the highest lifetime earnings, advance to the final.
Campbell teamed with his Hall of Fame brother, John to win the 2005 Hambletonian with Tagliabue, and the pair finished third last year with Opening Night.
In the first elimination [race five], Campbell has post two with Possess The Will, who makes only his third start of the season after sickness set back his schedule a few weeks. The Donato Hanover colt, a $135,000 yearling purchase, was a 2011 Dan Patch Award winner, and led all freshman colts in earnings last year with $580,762. He comes off a third-place finish in a Stanley Dancer Memorial division with Tim Tetrick driving.
“I think he’s got enough conditioning into him,” said Campbell. “Ideally, if everything had gone as planned, he would’ve had four or five starts by now. I was a little disappointed in his last race. I thought he should’ve been second, but I don’t think it was not enough racing. He was struggling a bit with the track. I’m going to change his shoeing for Saturday. I switched him to aluminum shoes, gave him a little more grab, and he trained well. He’s raced both ways, and it doesn’t really matter to him, but he’s probably better when he’s closing at other horses.”
In the second elimination [race six], Campbell has post two again with Stormin Normand. Hall of Famer Dave Palone, who recently became the sport’s all-time leader in driving wins, will be reunited with the son of Broadway Hall [last year’s winning sire]. After a strong two-year-old campaign in which he dominated Pennsylvania Sires Stakes, the Fashion Farms bred colt has pushed his lifetime earnings to $591,202. Never worse than second, he’s won eight of 12 career starts, and took a mark of 1:51.4 in an elimination for the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial. He was second in both finals of the Beal and the Yonkers Trot, and comes off a 1:52.4 score in Pennsylvania Sires Stakes at Pocono Downs.
“He’s just a true professional who consistently gives you a great effort every time out he’s out there,” noted Campbell. “He just does everything that’s asked of him and then some. When you put him on the track he comes to race. Mr. Siegel has had a special fondness for him ever since we broke him, and being a son of Broadway Hall makes him one of his favorite horses.”
Both of Campbell’s trainees will be coming off Lasix medication, which is not permitted in the Hambletonian.
“Every horse is different coming off Lasix,” explained Campbell. “Broadway Schooner won the Oaks [in 2009] for us coming off Lasix. It’s one of those things you never know, yet I’m not anticipating any problems.
“I feel pretty good about my two colts and the way they’re coming into the eliminations. They both drew post two, but we’re facing a very deep and competitive group. For instance, in the first elimination, Banker Volo has already shown a lot, Money On My Mind is capable of high speed, Uncle Peter is a top colt and Magic Tonight has already gone in 1:52.4. That’s only five horses in one elimination. There are just so many that are competitive. There’s no intimidation factor.
“More so than in as many years that I can remember there are a lot of trotting colts that can step up and be the one in the next two weeks. There’s no standout, and there are a lot of them that can go fast, but I certainly wouldn’t trade my two colts for any of them.”
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