The reasons why Bill Zendt is optimistic about Cammikey’s chances to upset favorite McWicked and win today’s $400,000 Adios pace are as varied as they are reasonable.
Go back two years, when Bolt The Duer went off at 11-1 odds and knocked off the overwhelming favorite Sweet Lou and Dave Palone with a world record time for pacers on a 5/8-mile track of 1:47.4. Third place in that race was Breakin The Law, at 25-1 odds. Those performances were stunning and unexpected for such a high quality race.
Last year, one of the top entries, Ultimate Beachboy, pulled out of the Adios, coming up lame just 90 minutes before the race. Sunfire Blue Chip, with Yannick Gingras in the sulky, gave trainer Jimmy Takter his second Adios victory in five years.
So no guarantees are given, no promises made when the nine-horse field starts the 48th Delvin Miller Pace for the Orchids in Race No. 12 (approximately 4 p.m.) on the 16-card event.
And Zendt believes his promising horse has a shot to cross first.
“It depends on a lot of things,” Zendt said of Cammikey’s chances. “It has been a weird day in the past. McWicked won handily in his elimination, won the Hempt and did well at Pocono.”
McWicked, driven by David Miller, won the $500,000 Hempt in 1:47.3 last month, which cemented his spot as one of, if not the best, 3-year-olds in the harness racing world this year.
“If he gets to the front and has easy fractions, then no one is going to beat him,” Zendt said.
If not, then Cammikey, or any other in the field, has a shot.
The Cameron Family – namely Nan and her daughter Wendy – own Cammikey. The Cameron family has produced high quality horses over the years. Always Cam won the Jugette in 2002 and took the Breeders Crown for mares in 2004. Before that came Cam Fella, the Horse of the Year in 1982 and 1983.
Cammikey showed his speed and explosiveness in a Pennsylvania Sires Stake race at The Meadows last month. Despite laboring to get in position at the start, he burst down the Lightning Lane and won in 1:49.4. In Saturday’s elimination, Cammikey placed third, finishing well off his winning time in the PASS. Those ups and downs can be a little maddening but Zendt knows the potential is there. Cammikey is the offspring of Somebeachsomewhere and Always Cam and has bloodlines to Western Hanover, the all-time money-producing sire of all equine breeds.
“He’s the fourth one in the line and he is the best of all the others,” Zendt said. “Versatility and speed are his strengths.”
Cammikey drew the rail for the Adios and took 8-1 odds into today’s betting. McWicked is at 7-5.
“He’s got to get away quick and push the pace,” Zendt said. “Someone has to force McWicked, and it’s got to be close,” said Zendt. “Then, I think everyone has a shot.”
It might come down to strategy and Zendt has all the confidence in Cammikey’s driver, who happens to be his son, Brian. The 36-year-old settled into the sulky after Bill moved away from full-time driving in 1997. Bill Zendt’s best chance to win the Adios came in 1996, when Satin Town with Ed Moritz driving was nosed out by Electric Town and Mike LaChance.
Brian Zendt has 116 wins in 1,169 starts and earnings of $1.4 million.
“We’re pretty conservative (drivers),” said Zendt. “Hopefully, he’s learned from me. With a young horse, you have to have patience.”
Trainer Jimmy Takter is after his third Adios title, which would put him just one behind Billy Haughton and Brett Pelling, who top the list of Adios final training victories with four. Somewhere In LA, with Brett Miller driving, rallied with a great burst to win his elimination race in 1:50 last weekend.
He leaves from the No. 5 post.
“He raced well within himself that night,” Takter said of the elimination race. “It’s not easy at The Meadows sitting last and ending up winning by 4 lengths.”
Somewhere In LA has six wins in 20 starts and $147,695 in earnings. Miller must coax his best effort in order to beat McWicked.
“McWicked has been racing tremendous his last few starts. He’ll be tough to beat,” Takter said. “But the monkey’s on his back. If the trip works out, I have confidence my horse will be right there.”