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Camluck: One Of A Kind

Published: May 12, 2015 9:36 am ET

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"There isn’t a smarter horse than he is. He’s that smart. He puts that attitude into his foals. We notice it with his yearlings when we go to video them. They video terribly...They won’t be chased. They’re too smart to be chased. They’ll turn around and look at you and wonder, ‘What are you chasing me for?’ It is absolutely an intelligence that comes right from (Camluck)."

Camluck left an indelible mark on the standardbred breed, but the impact the super sire had on Seelster Farms is immeasurable.

“Camluck made Seelster Farms. Without a hesitation I say that. Without him we wouldn’t be where we are today. He put us on the map,” said Ann Straatman, the reproduction manager at the Lucan, Ont. farm where the 28-year-old stallion stood for 25 years before being retired from active duty in October of 2014.

Friday night, Camluck will become the 32nd inductee overall to the Wall of Fame at The Raceway at The Western Fair District in London, Ont.

Bob McIntosh – the man who trained Camluck and was one of the owners of the pacer that spring-boarded from a million-dollar racing career to become the No. 1 stallion in harness racing history in North America by total progeny earnings – commented on the induction. In part, McIntosh said that Camluck “had a big impact on Western Fair.”

Camluck’s progeny have earned just shy of $220 million in total. The late, great Western Hanover is second on the list. His offspring have earned approximately $211 million combined.

Camluck was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.

Straatman said Camluck not only was the most fertile stallion Seelster has ever stood, he also consistently passed on his “drive and intelligence” to his progeny.

“He is, by far, the smartest horse we’ve ever had, and that’s a lot of horses,” Straatman said. “

McIntosh said he trained a lot of horses sired by Camluck and a common trait was their ability to race tough.

“I think most of them, even when they aren’t 100 per cent, suck it up and give 110 per cent. That’s rare amongst sires,” McIntosh said. “Another thing, too, I noticed about them. When you breed to some sires, if you don’t get a stakes horse, you don’t even have a horse. Camluck sired horses of any class. You could get a good hard-hitting racehorse or you could get a stakes horse. You didn’t have to worry about getting a filly or getting a colt, because they were both good.”

Camluck will join Seelster Farms’ late owner Chris Van Bussel on The Raceway’s Wall of Fame. Van Bussel was inducted in 2004.

“I was glad that Chris Van Bussel had (Camluck),” McIntosh said. “I can remember having a meeting to send (Camluck to Seelster) and Chris was just a real gentleman. His handshake was as good as a contract. He was one of the nicest, most honourable men I’ve ever met.”

Friday’s Wall of Fame Night card begins at 7:15 p.m. and will also feature the first race in this year’s Racing Under Saddle (RUS) series in Ontario. Fans will have a chance to watch and wager on the event as well as meet and greet the riders. The RUS series is in its second full season in Ontario and has been growing in popularity.

There will also be a number of fan promotions throughout the night and a pair of mini races scheduled as part of the fun. Though, honouring Camluck will be the main event.

“It is such an honour to be recognized,” Straatman said, “especially at our home track.”

Straatman said Camluck’s “nose is a little out of joint” that he doesn’t get to breed anymore, but otherwise, the senior equine is “fantastic”, “in good health” and is enjoying living out his days in his private paddock with special lawn as pristine as one might find on a golf course.

“Whatever Camluck wants, Camluck gets,” Straatman said.

(with files from the Western Fair District)


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