When Cammikey won a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes division at The Meadows on June 7, he showed both the promise and the peril associated with this 3-year-old colt.
When he tried to jump over the starting gate, Brian Zendt had to snatch him up and take him far back. Then, with amazing speed and determination, he charged through the Lightning Lane to win in a career-best 1:49.4. That eye-popping performance helped make him the 2-1 morning line favorite in his elimination of the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Lite.
Three eliminations for the $600,000 (est.) Adios will go as races 3-5 Saturday evening at The Meadows, with the top three finishers in each returning for the final the afternoon of July 26. Cammikey leaves from post 4 in race 4 with Brian Zendt aboard.
Part of Cammikey's erratic behavior in that electrifying victory may be attributable to greenness, as trainer Bill Zendt and owner Cam Land Inc. shut down the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Always Cam after only four starts at two.
"He had some breathing problems, so we just quit with him early,” Bill Zendt says. "A year helped him. He always handled himself and got over the ground. He felt like a pretty good horse in the lines. I thought that if we took care of him, he'd make a pretty good horse.”
And that he has become, with $163,788 on his card and a fourth-place finish in the $500,000 final of the Hempt at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on June 28.
The farm of Cam Land--the nom de course of Nan Cameron and her daughter Wendy Cameron--sits just down the road from The Meadows, so Cammikey will have plenty of support on hand. Locally owned horses haven't fared particularly well in the Adios, but the Camerons are no strangers to harness racing's highest levels.
They bred and campaigned Always Cam, who won the Jugette in 2002 and captured the Breeders Crown for mares in 2004. Many years earlier, Nan Cameron and her late husband, Pete, bred and sold a granddaughter of Adios named Nan Cam, who subsequently produced Cam Fella, the Horse of the Year in 1982 and 1983 and a champion whose exploits have withstood the test of time.
Cammikey gives the Camerons perhaps their best shot yet at the blanket of orchids, and Bill Zendt indicates his colt may have a home-track advantage.
"He's not a great shipper, and he seems better right here,” he said. "You have to ship him early, and it takes a lot out of him.”
Cammikey also will be well rested, as he hasn't raced since the Hempt.
"I trained him real good last Saturday,” Bill Zendt said. "He doesn't take a lot of work. He lost a lot of weight at Pocono, shipping and racing. He's not one of those big, stout horses. Little speed horses don't take a lot of work.”
It all adds up to a trainer who is cautiously optimistic about his colt's Adios chances.
"Our first objective is to make the final, and that's not guaranteed,” he said. "After the first couple in there, they're all pretty equal. There are no duds in there.” (The Meadows)