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HORSE RACING

Stepson Charged in Trainer's Murder

December 08, 2001|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The stepson of Bob Camac, one of the leading trainers at Philadelphia Park, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder after Camac and his wife were found dead of gunshot wounds at their South New Jersey farm.

New Jersey state police arrested Wade Russell, 36, Thursday night, about 10 hours after the bodies of Bob and Maryann Camac were discovered on the back porch of their house at Camac's farm in Oldmans Township, N.J.

Bail was set at $1.8 million for Russell, who is the son of Maryann Camac from a previous marriage. Sources at Philadelphia Park indicated that there may have been a confrontation between Russell and his parents after they learned that he had been illegally cashing checks written by horse owners who were Bob Camac's clients.

Camac, 61, won more than 1,800 races, many of them on a circuit that included Philadelphia Park and Delaware Park. Camac had saddled 51 winners to rank third in the current standings at Philadelphia Park.

Camac, a native of Wilmington, Del., saddled his first winner in 1961 at the old Narragansett Park. During a 40-year career, Camac's horses earned more than $28 million. Some of his top stakes winners were Jolie's Halo, Skipping Around, Fire Plug and Cagey Exuberance. In 1991, Camac won eight stakes races with Wide Country on the Maryland circuit.

Arthur Appleton, a leading owner-breeder in Florida, was one of Camac's top clients. Camac said that his work with Appleton's Fire Plug was probably his best training job. Fire Plug wasn't expected to race because of crooked legs, but under Camac he ran 54 times, won 28 races and earned $705,175.

"Keeping Fire Plug going was something I was always proud about," Camac once said.

Jolie's Halo was another horse Appleton bred. His career began under trainer Happy Alter, and after winning the 1991 Donn and Gulfstream Park Handicaps in Florida, the horse was turned over to Camac that fall. After cannon-bone surgery, Jolie's Halo returned to win the 1992 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park, and a couple of weeks later Camac shipped him to California to run in the $1-million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Jolie's Halo was sent off the 3-1 third choice, but he stumbled leaving the gate and unseated jockey Edgar Prado. Missionary Ridge won the race at 24-1.

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If it's December, Russell Baze must be in Northern California, winning a 400th race for yet another year.

Which is exactly what Baze was doing Thursday at Golden Gate Fields, where by winning the third race with Golden Peace the 43-year-old jockey reached the 400-win plateau for the ninth time in the last 10 years. Since 1992, the only year Baze missed 400 was 1999, when a back injury prevented a late-season run at the annual goal and he settled for 373 wins.

Only five jockeys--Sandy Hawley, Chris McCarron, Kent Desormeaux, Pat Day and Edgar Prado--have logged 400-win years as many as three times. All four of them--all but Day --had 500-win years, with Desormeaux's 598 wins in 1989 still the record.

Baze won the title for most wins nationally from 1992-96 through 1996, but Prado was the leader for the next three years before Baze regained the crown last year. This year, Baze is battling another Maryland-based rider, Ramon Dominguez, for the title. Dominguez also went over the 400 mark this week.

Before 1992, the most wins Baze had ever registered in a year was 372 in 1984. His biggest year was 448 wins in 1995. He won two races at Golden Gate on Friday, pushing his total to 403. During his 10-year run, Baze has won with 4,133 of 15,075 mounts for a winning percentage of .274. Since 1995, when the Issac Murphy Award for the best winning percentage was first given, Baze has been the winner every year.

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The stakes-winning Euchre, sidelined since July with hoof problems, returns to action Sunday as the 121-pound high weight in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park. With Garrett Gomez riding, Euchre will spot Grey Memo, the next horse in the weights, five pounds for the 11/8-mile race.

A win for Euchre would give trainer Bobby Frankel his seventh stakes win, a fall-meet record. Frankel already shares the record with Charlie Whittingham. Also running Sunday is Momentum, a 3-year-old making his first start on dirt.

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