Cot Campbell passes at 91

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Cot Campbell, prominent owner, author and longtime industry advocate, passed away at the age of 91 Saturday at his home in Aiken, S.C.

As an innovator in syndicate partnerships and a member of The Jockey Club, Campbell was the Thoroughbred Club of America’s Honored Guest in 2004 and received an Eclipse Award of Merit in 2012. In 2016, Campbell was inducted into the Saratoga Walk of Fame which honors the achievements of those who have made significant contributions to the sport of thoroughbred racing and to the advancement of Saratoga Race Course. Campbell was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s Pillars of the Turf in 2018.

“Cot Campbell was a giant of Thoroughbred racing and visionary thinker whose creation of syndicate racing partnerships brought countless new owners to the sport,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “Cot was endlessly generous and devoted his time and spirit to a variety of philanthropic causes. He was a pioneer, and we were thrilled to be able to honor his life’s work by inducting him into the Saratoga Walk of Fame in 2016. On behalf of the men and women of the New York Racing Association, we send our condolences to Cot’s family and friends.”

Campbell made his mark on horse racing in 1969 when he pioneered the concept of syndicated racehorse ownership, which features numerous owners sharing a percentage, providing the opportunity for new people to enter the sport. Dominion’s victory in the 1978 Bernard Baruch put Campbell’s Dogwood Stable on the map as one of the first in a long line of flagbearers to parade Dogwood’s famed green-and-yellow silks to the winner’s circle including such greats as Eclipse Award winner Storm Song, Preakness winner Summer Squall and 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice.

Todd Pletcher, who trained many prominent horses for Dogwood through the years including the multiple Grade 1 winner Palace Malice, recalled Campbell’s kindness and love of the sport.

“He was a great man. He always embraced the game with great enthusiasm. He loved horses, he loved horse racing and his impact on the industry, not only through Dogwood Stable, but through the number of new people he introduced to the game at the highest level is a major contribution to racing as we know it today,” Pletcher said. “He was always very kind and knew every groom’s name. He was a terrific person to work for. He gave a lot of young trainers over the years an opportunity and a chance to prove themselves.”

Their Belmont Stakes success with Palace Malice is one that Pletcher recalled fondly.

“To have such a long relationship with Dogwood and to be able to win a Classic was a great moment for all of us,” Pletcher said. “I was fortunate to have an opportunity to train for him for a long time. He was a good friend.”

A pillar of both racing and community, Campbell was named Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year in 2006, inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007 and was named the Aiken Standard Person of the Year in 2013. His written work included Lightning in a Jar: Catching Racing Fever: A Thoroughbred Owner’s Guide, Rascals and Racehorses: A Sporting Man’s Life and Memoirs of a Longshot: A Riproarious Life.

Following his retirement, Dogwood Stable merged with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, which carries forward his lasting legacy.