Campbell trio on track for May debuts
Story: Ken Weingartner
Jim Campbell trains three of the top 22 trotters listed in the Hoof Beats/TrackMaster Predictive Rankings, but he is not going to get too excited over anything he sees in print or, for that matter, anything he sees during training miles.
Campbell’s Fashion Athena, Fashion Blizzard and Hall Of Muscles are approximately three weeks from heading to the racetrack to qualify. Fashion Athena, a filly, is rated No. 4 in the Hoof Beats/TrackMaster rankings while colt Fashion Blizzard is No. 10 and colt Hall Of Muscles is No. 22. The ratings, which attempt to predict the fastest 3-year-old trotters of the year, appear in the April issue of Hoof Beats magazine.
All three horses are training well, but Campbell is not making any predictions.
“I guess I’ve been doing this too long; it’s good when one trains good, but I don’t start making bold plans off of training miles,” said Campbell, who trains the highly regarded trio for owner Fashion Farms. “I’ll make bold plans off of good races, but not off of training miles.
“You want them to train good compared to not training good, but you have to keep everything in context. It’s just a training mile and it means nothing. Most of them can go out and train good, anyway. I get excited when they do good in a race.”
Fashion Athena won five of 11 races and $213,541 last year. Her fastest win time was 1:53.2, which she set capturing a division of the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington’s Red Mile in October. The time was tied for the fastest mile of the season by a 2-year-old trotter; To Dream On equaled the mark in a later division of the ISS. In fact, all three divisions were won in less than 1:54, with Mistery Woman winning the final split in 1:53.3.
To Dream On is No. 2 in the predictive rankings, behind another filly, Bee A Magician, and Mistery Woman is No. 13. Only two other fillies have ever won an International Stallion Stakes division in less than 1:54 – Snow White with a world-record 1:52.4 in 2007 and Check Me Out with a 1:53.4 victory in 2011.
“It’s a tough group,” Campbell said about this season’s 3-year-old filly trotters. “That day in Lexington all three divisions went in (1):53 and a piece and there was like two or three (other horses) that if the trips were reversed might have won their divisions too. So you’re looking at nine or 10 horses in one day that possibly had the chance to win in (1):53. I don’t ever remember seeing anything like that before.”
Campbell expects Fashion Athena (Broadway Hall-Athena Hanover) to debut in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on May 15 at The Meadows.
“So far I’m very happy with the way she’s coming back,” Campbell said. “She’s got a real good gait to her. She’s got a lot of quick speed to her and hopefully she’ll be able to carry that further this year as a 3-year-old.”
Fashion Blizzard won five of 12 races last year and earned $302,439. He won the New York Sire Stakes championship and a division of the International Stallion Stakes for male trotters, winning the latter in a career-best 1:54.3. Aside from going off stride in two starts at Woodbine Racetrack, including the Breeders Crown final, Fashion Blizzard hit the board in his remaining races.
“I was very happy with him,” Campbell said. “He’s got a few quirks to him that I hope I don’t see too often with him. That’s what happened to him in the Breeders Crown. He had a hard time getting away from the gate up there. I think he would have been OK in the final except there was the recall. He can get real aggressive before the start. Once the gate folds you can do whatever you want with him.”
Fashion Blizzard (Credit Winner-Fun And Strokes) is expected to debut in the New York Sire Stakes at Vernon Downs on May 24.
Hall Of Muscles won once in 11 races last year, capturing a division of the Keystone Classic in 1:56.2 at The Meadows, and earned $102,014. Hall Of Muscles (Broadway Hall-Bowl Of Muscles) is expected to begin the season in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on May 24 at The Meadows.
“He’s got some ability to him,” Campbell said. “He’s good gaited and I just hope he can carry his speed a little further this year.”
Last year, Wheeling N Dealin was 9-for-9 and earned $696,112 while racing exclusively in Canada and was named harness racing’s best 2-year-old male trotter. Only one other 2-year-old male trotter (Murmur Hanover) earned more than $338,000 last season.
“You had Wheeling N Dealin and beyond that the division seemed pretty wide open,” Campbell said. “I’m sure there will be someone we didn’t hear about last year that will jump onto the scene. With (Fashion) Blizzard, or any of them, once they start off we just have to play it by ear and see how competitive they are.”
One horse that could jump onto the scene is Campbell’s Tactful Way, a son of Broadway Hall-Love Tactics who was winless in six starts last season because he had trouble maintaining his gait.
“He showed potential last year,” Campbell said. “I thought he was going to win one day in (1):54 at Harrah’s Philadelphia (in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes). He was in front by seven lengths but didn’t negotiate the last turn too good. But he was on cruise control.
“He had a lot of bad luck. He’s got the speed as long as we can put everything together. I’m hoping he steps it up.”
But Campbell is not going to predict anything.
Harness Racing Communications
U.S. Trotting Association
Photo: Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA
Story: Ken Weingartner