The Legend Returns
Published: August 16, 2013 9:23 am ET
Last Comment: August 16, 2013 11:54 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments
For harness racing fans, meeting John Campbell is akin to a hockey fan meeting Wayne Gretzky. Both are considered the absolute best in their profession, admired by their peers and fans alike, inducted into every Hall of Fame possible and recognized by the Governor General of Canada for their contributions to their respective sports.
Campbell grew up in the small town of Ailsa Craig where he learned the fundamentals of horsemanship from his father and grandfather. Once he started driving horses it soon became evident he had a gift and he quickly rose to the pinnacle of the sport.
From small town tracks in Ontario to the largest tracks in North America, John Campbell has been harness racing’s most successful driver for many years and one of its greatest ambassadors. He is the sport’s leading driver in terms of money won, with more than $286 million in purses to his credit to date along with 10,596 victories.
Campbell doesn’t have the opportunity very often to return to his roots at small Grassroots tracks in Ontario, which is one of the many reasons he looks forward to competing at Legends Day which is held at Clinton Raceway once every two years. The 2013 event is scheduled for Sunday, August 18 and brings together many great Canadian horsemen who have earned the right to be called a legend in the Standardbred sport.
“It’s a great event. First of all it gives back to the community, which is important, and it’s fun for me to participate,” noted Campbell. Legends Day traditionally raises funds for charity with this year’s recipient the Clinton Public Hospital. To date it has raised over $140,000 for the hospital.
“On a personal level I certainly get to see a lot of family every two years and a lot of people that I raced against when I was starting out in London and it’s fun reminiscing with them about horses and races. It’s such a hotbed for harness racing and there are people that you wouldn’t get to see and enjoy if it wasn’t for Legends Day,” added Campbell. “It’s so professional, right from start to finish, it’s something we all look forward to.”
As part of the festivities at the track, fans are able to meet all of the legendary drivers and get autographs. Fans are also able to watch the legends compete on the racetrack in the Legends Day trot. Campbell will be looking for his fourth straight victory having won the event the past three years. “I can’t speak for anybody else but I know I want to win it every year, I think everybody does. It’s just a special day and when they turn behind the gate you want to win.”
The other legends Campbell will be competing against on the track are Steve Condren, Ron Waples, Ray Remmen, Bill O’Donnell, Doug Brown, Herve Filion and Jim Doherty. Special appearances will also be made by Dave Wall, Keith Waples, Clint Galbraith and Bud Fritz. All are members of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Campbell recently spoke to Trot Radio's Norm Borg to get his thoughts on Legends Day, the resurgence at The Meadowlands, as well as the one thing Campbell would do to improve harness racing. That interview is available below.
Trot Radio - Episode 304 - John Campbell
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg
All are welcome to attend Legends Day on Sunday afternoon at Clinton Raceway. Post time is 1:30 p.m. and admission is free.