“I’ve grown fond of making double the money with about half the work.”
Harness driver Drew Campbell
Talk about dashing through the snow…
Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night could keep Drew Campbell from continuing his domination of Scarborough Downs into December as he had his second, five-win day over a three-day period on Dec. 7.
“I think that’s my sixth or seventh five-win day this year. I’ve grown fond of making double the money with about half the work,” Campbell said with a chuckle. “I’m really getting used to that, but you can’t take anything for granted.”
His big day brought his weekend total to a whopping 13 victories. If that wasn’t enough success, two of the horses he drove (C’mon Towners Jazz and CC Bag A Luck), he also owns and each won their fourth straight races.
The Lewiston native, who won his 2,000th career race in August, has all but clinched his second straight Scarborough season championship as he is leading Rob Dinning with a 17-race win margin with only four dates remaining in the 2008 season. Through Wednesday, he has 2,117 career wins.
“I think as far as Scarborough goes, it’s pretty safe, but nothing’s certain as far as the state standings,” Campbell said.
The 41-year-old Campbell is leading northern tier driver Shawn Gray in the battle for the state of Maine driver’s championship with 256 circuit wins to Gray’s 253 Pine Tree circuit victory laps with six race dates left in the season. Campbell hasn’t won the award since he won his second straight in 2003.
Campbell says he owes his strong season to an increased emphasis on racing the Maine fair circuit and stakes races. He also raced in Bangor more frequently this year.
“I picked up a lot of races in Bangor and did well. I also hooked on with some very nice stakes horses and drove one of the best 2-year-old pacing fillies in the state,” he explained. “I’ve been driving for Heidi Rohr’s stables in New York. They have really good horses and use Jason Bartlett a lot too.”
Campbell, who’s been racing for 19 years, has also been an owner for the last seven.
“It helps that I stay active and have a small stable of horses,” he said. “At least I know I have those horses to race.”
The season is finally starting to slow down for Campbell, who has been racing seven days a week in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire while also running his eight-horse stable. He’s looking forward to joining brother Heath in Florida next month for a couple weeks of sun and golf.
Bartlett goes bonkers in Yonkers
Maine native Jason Bartlett, who has won the Maine driver’s title the past four seasons, notched the 2,500th victory of his harness racing career Dec. 5 at Yonkers Raceway in New York. The 27-year-old Windsor man drove a horse named Nip N Attack to a winning time of 1 minute, 56.2 seconds.
Bartlett’s decision to leave Maine for the much more competitive New York racing circuit has paid off handsomely. As of Tuesday, he was Yonkers’ top-ranked driver with 431 wins in 2,142 starts (20.1 winning percentage). To date, he’s won $4,802,091 in purse money.
Making strong Case for return
Walter Case Jr., made a triumphant return to harness racing after a five-year absence late last month, winning his first two races and notching two second-place finishes along with one third in five races at Plainridge Racecourse in Marlborough, Mass.
Maine’s only member of the 11,000-victory club, Case Jr. served 4½ years of a five-year prison sentence in Ohio and was recently released early for good behavior. He pleaded guilty to felonious assault for stabbing his wife in the back in 2004. She filed for divorce two months later.
The 47-year-old Lewiston native told media and track officials it was a “shocker to get back driving” and that he just wants to put the past behind him and move on.
Case Jr., who had 11,028 career victories to his credit before his jail term began, started his racing career at Bangor Raceway in 1977. His first win came in February 1978 at Lewiston Raceway.