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No Panic For Real Cool Sam

Published: May 2, 2020 11:05 am ET

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While many of harness racing's returning stars from 2019 have had their 2020 debuts delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dan Patch Award winner and Hambletonian hopeful Real Cool Sam is right on schedule.

According to the colt's trainer, Jim Campbell, plans called for Real Cool Sam to qualify around the end of this month with sights set on the 2020 Hambletonian. That race remains slated for Aug. 8.

“We were in no hurry to qualify him and didn’t really have a set schedule other than we weren’t going to be real early with him,” Campbell said to Trot Insider. “I just want to have a limited number of starts into him before the Hambletonian, so with everything changing the way it is we’re just kind of waiting and seeing what’s going to happen. But we didn't plan to qualify in the first part of May anyway.

“I don’t get too wrapped up in schedules,” Campbell also said. “I get more wrapped up pointing towards bigger races; I’m not worried about catching the first race on the stakes schedule. It’s a long year and to try and map it out according...just let the horse tell what they’re ready for.”

Coming into the 2020 season, Real Cool Sam won nine of his 10 starts as a two-year-old, with his only defeat coming in the $789,474 Breeders Crown final at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Prior to, the Muscle Hill gelding out of former Campbell trainee Cooler Schooner won several Pennsylvania Sire Stakes prelims, the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship and the Peter Haughton Memorial. Much like his dam -- who still holds the world record for two-year-old trotting fillies on a five-eighths mile track -- Real Cool Sam set a world record in his final victory of his two-year-old season with a 1:52.1 win in a division of International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile.

“Their speed comes naturally and easily to them, but they’re two different types of horses,” Campbell said of Real Cool Sam and Cooler Schooner. “We were always worried about keeping [Cooler Schooner] calm and relaxed and she sometimes could be her own worst enemy while [Real Cool Sam] is pretty laid back and pretty easy going. Plus it’s a different horse, different times. So I would say the biggest similarity is that their speed comes naturally and easily to them.

“Every horse is different and every year is different so you never know,” Campbell also said. “I told somebody the other day [that] the year I won the Hambletonian I won it with a horse (Tagliabue) that didn’t make one pari-mutuel start as a two-year-old and the year I won the Hambletonian Oaks with Broadway Schooner, when she started her three-year-old year she fit in non-winners of two at The Meadowlands. You never know which way it’s going to go.”

Alongside Real Cool Sam, Campbell has Sherry Lyns Lady waiting to hit the track for her three-year-old season. A filly by Father Patrick, Sherry Lyns Lady capped her two-year-old campaign with three victories from 11 starts and $300,000 banked, winning on the Grand Circuit in the $215,000 Kentuckiana Stakes at Hoosier Park and in a division of International Stallion Stakes. For this year, Campbell had her ready to engage on the Grand Circuit in “all the major races.”

“Everything seems good with her coming back,” Campbell said. “She grew and filled out from last year and everything seems good so far. She was going to qualify somewhere right around the end of April, the first of May. Right in that timeframe. I wasn’t worried about the first sires stake or anything like that. We were going to kind of pick our spots here and there but sires stakes were part of the plan.”

While Campbell’s pair of sophomore stars would have been readying to hit the track, his millionaire trotting gelding Crystal Fashion would have likely already been in competition. The now five-year-old Cantab Hall gelding remains poised to join the aged trotting ranks after a five-win four-year-old season that included a win against the top older trotters in the 2019 John Cashman Memorial.

“He’s a pretty low-key horse anyway...he always was. When he was two, three and four, and coming back this year, he’s a pretty low-key horse. He doesn’t get excited about too much. I’m sure the whole schedule will get redone when everybody knows when they’re going to be racing and all that.”

Currently Campbell continues his operation with 40 horses in training as the country enters into its next potential month of quarantine.

“We’re just like everybody else,” Campbell said, “just waiting for some type of idea of when we can get back going but I don’t think anybody really knows right now.”

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