Crete, IL --- Though he finished third in his $15,000 Su Mac Lad elimination here last week, the modest trotter Fox Valley Camo will likely have one of the biggest cheering sections in the stands Saturday night at Balmoral Park.
Conditioned by Nick Giberson, the winner of $62,137 in his career was purchased privately for $5,000 shortly after the 2011 Walker Standardbred Sale, and has now become a family favorite.
"He didn't bring what the Walkers had wanted in the sale ring, so we went to them afterward and offered to buy the horse, and we got him," said Amy Giberson, Nick's wife and the caretaker of Fox Valley Camo. "My kids are real into hunting, and they wanted to name him Fox Valley Camouflage, but there were too many letters, so we shortened it to just Camo."
Nick and Amy's children, Ethan, 4 and Madeline, 7, spend a lot of time in their folks' training barn at the Illinois State Fairgrounds at Springfield.
"Camo was a great yearling to be around and has always been a big puppy dog in the barn," Amy said. "He's really just a big kid himself. He's a clown and likes to take the kid's hats off their heads. Both of them wear camouflage hats and he especially likes to grab those away from them."
During his freshman campaign in 2012, the son of Vaporize had a win, three seconds and a pair of thirds in 11 starts, earning $25,190. He finished third in last year's $119,000 Lincoln Land Trot with Jamaica Patton at the lines, and in October won a Balmoral overnight in 1:59.4.
"Camo had some minor colt soreness last season and we turned him out over the winter at Fox Valley Standardbreds, which is near where we live," Amy explained. "We started back with him in January and he is like a completely different horse this year. Last year he couldn't get around a half-mile track and this year he gets around it no problem.
"Jamaica (driver Patton) works for us," she continued. "He's done a great job of driving Camo, and always gives him good trips. Camo can trot home very well, and he's never won a big stake, but he's always right there."
This season the bay gelding has three wins, two seconds and four thirds in 14 starts and $36,947 in earnings with a mark of 1:55.4 taken at Springfield on Aug. 12, in a $5,000 Illinois Department of Agriculture event. Lifetime, Fox Valley Camo has a 4-5-6 record from 25 starts. Bred by Fox Valley Standardbreds, he is owned by Ethan and Amy Giberson, and Mark and Austin Winship.
"We're pretty confident that Ethan is the youngest owner ever to own a Super Night contender," Amy said.
Fox Valley Camo was timed in 1:56.3 in his Su Mac Lad elim, beaten only 1-1/4 lengths for Patton.
"He raced well in the elim so we won't change anything," Nick acknowledged. "I changed his shoes from steel to aluminum all the way around after Springfield to help speed him up a bit, but that's it."
Fox Valley Camo will have a cheering section in the grandstand, a group of folks from Springfield who come out each year to watch the Giberson clan race on Super Night. To make sure his fans will be able to see him clearly during the race, Nick painted Cam's race bike bright orange, and colored his race wheels in camouflage.
"I took those wheels home and painted them in my living room one afternoon," Nick laughed. "Now his fans will be able to follow him with no trouble at all."
Fox Valley Camo is the fifth of seven foals out of the Conway Hall mare Racy Roz 3,2:01.3f ($4,227). He has half-siblings in Racintowardadream (by Like A Prayer) 4,1:58h ($48,344) and Revolve (by Valley Victor) 2,2:01.3 ($4,650).