Hollywood’s Hits: Today marks a huge milestone in Campbell’s career

by Bob Heyden

Today marks 45 years since John Campbell’s first win in his third career drive at Western Fair Raceway with Noble Will.

Thirty-five years ago, Campbell twice was part of the biggest pari-mutuel return in Meadowlands history — and the records still stand.

In the Daily Double on July 13, 1982 in the 1st race Williams Arthurs drove Charlotte Newton to victory $186.20. In the second race, Campbell won with Hustlers Boy $71.60. The Daily Double was $6,359.60 and it remains the high water mark for the Meadowlands in 41 years of racing.

Earlier that same year, in an Exacta on Feb. 15, Herb Kamm won with Saunders Bret at 167-1, while Campbell is second with Night Mood at 10-1. The Exacta of $5,299.40 is still tops — although it came close to being eclipsed a month ago.

Campbell and earnings

In the 20th Century, Campbell earned $176 million. In the 21st Century, he has earned $123 million.

The gap of $85 million from Campbell to the second richest driver is the highest ever in the history of horse racing and will remain so until June 30, when Campbell’s last day of driving occurs. Ron Pierce is in second place with $215 million, David Miller a little more than a month away from taking over that slot.

In thoroughbreds, John Velazquez leads the way at $366 million, with Pat Day second at $297 million, a $69 million difference. With Mike Smith just about to move into second at $295 million, it is likely that gap won’t hit $85 million anytime soon.

Big money winner

It’s been 38 years from Campbell’s first $100,000 win to his most recent.

In 1979 in the $108,000 Oliver Wendell Holmes, Campbell won his first $100,000 event with Merry Isle. In May of this year, Campbell won the six-figure Dexter Cup at Freehold.

Happy 70th birthday Ray Remmen

Ray Remmen, “The Chief” and the man who won the first ever Meadowlands race on Sept. 1, 1976 with Quick Baron in 1:57.2, celebrated his 70th birthday on Sunday (May 28).

Remmen piloted the very first Hambletonian winner in East Rutherford NJ (Shiaway St Pat) in 1981 over the sloppy surface to a national TV audience.

Remmen also won the first two Miss New Jerseys in 1984-1985, is the first trainer to have 1,000 and then 1,500 Big M wins and is the first trainer/driver to have a $2 million single season earner (Beach Towel, $2,091,860 in 1990).

Other Remmen accomplishments include the following:
$1.3 million was Remmen’s biggest purse win getting his nose up on the wire with Grade One in the Woodrow Wilson of 1985.

English Tutor (1999), the brother to Cambest, was Remmen’s first sub-1:50 winning drive. New Lew (1980) was his first sub-1:55 winner.

Keyser Lobell won the 1988 Peter Haughton for the Chief, valued at $682,250.

Honorable Daughter was the 2008 Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year under the guidance of Ray and brother Larry Remmen.

Remmen’s Duchess Faye was the 1983 Older Mare Trotter Of The Year.

Bardot Lobell, one of the filly standouts handled by Remmen, set a track record at Freehold.

Halcyon was Remmen’s first Breeders Crown winner in 1986 and his richest two-year-old earner to that point.

In 2009-2010, Ray and Larry sent out perhaps their best performer, Shark Gesture, who won the Graduate and Haughton in back-to-back years. Each Haughton won in 1:48.2, just a tick off his lifetime best.

Other top performers include: Maracai, Astro Hill (1983 Hambletonian), Hug A Bear and pacing mare world record setter Yankee Mistress (1:53.4).

Little known Ray Remmen fact: In 1981, when he won the Hambletonian and had the richest sophomore trotter in the land, he also campaigned the fastest sophomore pacer the same year. Nordic Almahurst won in 1:54 in 1996 the same year Falcons Scooter won the NJ Classic.

Remmen entered the Hall Of Fame in 1998.