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Harness Racing: Long shot Armbro Animate wins Adios in thriller

Takes late lead to become race's first gelding winner

Sunday, August 10, 2003

By Pohla Smith, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

MEADOW LANDS, Pa. -- When there's a big purse at stake, there's no driver trainer Jim Campbell wants more in his corner than his brother, John.

"When John's going for the money, there's nothing better," he said.

Certainly that was the case yesterday at The Meadows when John Campbell brought 15-1 Armbro Animate home the winner for his brother in the $265,416 final of the Adios Pace. It was John Campbell's eighth victory in the race and second in as many years. The Harness Racing Hall of Famer won with Million Dollar Cam last year.

For Jim, who entered five horses in the Adios eliminations for owners Arlene and Jules Siegel and got three to the final, it was Adios win No. 2. He also won in 1987 with Run the Table.

It was the first blanket of orchids for the Siegels of New Hope, Pa., who have won almost every other major stake in harness racing. Armbro Animate, a son of the great pacer Artsplace, became the first gelding to win the Adios in its 37 runnings.

John Campbell finished first in dramatic fashion, going three-wide to get the lead late in the home stretch. They won by 1 1/4 lengths and paced the mile in 1:52 2/5.

General Challenge, another Jersey shipper, was second with Dave Palone, the Meadows' all-time leading driver. The Globe was third with Luc Ouelette.

Jules Siegel said he thought he and his wife's horses could finish 1-2, but with Whatanartist first and Armbro Animate second. Whatanartist finished fifth. Jim Campbell wasn't surprised.

"It just worked out better [for Armbro Animate] with his trip," he said. "He's been a real gritty horse. He's never let us down going for money."

Armbro Animate earned $7,077 for finishing third in his elimination and $132,708 for winning the final. That pushed his career purse total to $555,525.

John Campbell's right elbow was broken in a racing spill in March and had surgery. He only returned to driving about six weeks ago and still can't use the whip in his right hand. He's using his left for now but said he didn't consider himself a true "switch-hitter."

Otherwise, he said, the elbow doesn't interfere with his driving. "I'm just feeling my way around," he said. "Every year it's different, a different challenge," he said of his Adios experiences. "[This year] everything fell into place for me the whole trip."

In the first of the three $58,981 eliminations, David Miller came from midpack with Jersey-based Iced Yankee at the quarter pole to get to the front and led the rest of the way to win by two lengths. Iced Yankee, one of two Joe Holloway trainees to win eliminations, crossed the wire in 1:52, a national season's best for 3-year-old pacing geldings on a 5/8-mile track.

Tarpaulin Hanover, considered the best of the five Meadows-based horses entered, finished second with Mike Wilder, and Nvincbl Artist, another Jersey shipper, was third with Brian Sears to qualify for the final. Tarpaulin Hanover went on to finish fourth in the final.

Miller's win was his second of three on the card. He also took two divisions of the Gov. David L. Lawrence stake for 2-year-old colts and gelding pacers with Panlubber and Driven to Win.

In the second elimination, Palone, the Meadows' all-time win leader, brought General Challenge between horses in late stretch to give Holloway another qualifying victory. General Challenge, who won by a neck, covered the mile in 1:52 1/5.

Whatanartist with Brian Sears and The Globe with Ouelette, both Meadowlands horses, finished second and third to get the other two qualifying spots.

Palone also won a division of the Gov. Lawrence with Panspacificflight.

In the third elimination, Ontario driver Paul MacDonell took Jr Mint to the lead the first time past the grandstand, withstood a first-over move by Brando Blue Chip down the backstretch and then pulled away to win by 1 1/4 lengths and in a time of 1:52 1/5. Jr Mint broke stride and was distanced in the final as the 11-10 favorite.

Meadows-based Wolfdancer Mindale, driven by Mike LaChance, finished second and Armbro Animate and Campbell were third.

Other multiple-winning drivers on the 15-race card were Dick Stillings, who took the first and third races; Patrick Berry, who won the second and fourth; and Mike Wilder, who won the sixth, seventh and 15th.


Pohla Smith can be reached at psmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1228.

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