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Camerons looking forward to racing their Cammikey in Adios
Friday, July 18, 2014 - by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Rich Fisher
Trenton, NJ --- For Wendy Cameron and her 88-year-old mom Nan, this Saturday at The Meadows in western Pennsylvania will be akin to Pittsburgh parents watching their son play for the Pirates in the World Series at PNC Park or their daughter put on a theatre performance at prestigious Heinz Hall.

The Camerons’ horse, Cammikey, will be racing in the eliminations for the Delvin Miller Adios Pace for the Orchids Presented by Coors Lite at The Meadows on Saturday. The 3-year-old colt needs a top-three finish to advance to the final.

“We’ve never raced in the Adios,” said Wendy, whose Cam Land stable is in Washington, Pa. “We are really excited. Having grown up at The Meadows in our hometown, it’s just an honor to be in that race.

“We started staking horses about 15, 20 years ago and for the most part it’s been fillies. Years ago we had a colt who would have been of quality to race in the Adios, but was ineligible, so this is the first chance we have.”

The 2-1 morning line favorite in the second of three Adios eliminations, Cammikey will start from post four with driver Brian Zendt.

Cammikey’s name is a combination of the Camerons’ stable name, and the name of Wendy’s 15-year-old son, Mikey. He is the homebred son of Always Cam, who was famous for taking on some of the top pacing mares of her era. Always Cam won the Breeders Crown Mare Pace and Jugette during a career in which she earned nearly $1 million.

This year, the Bill Zendt-trained Cammikey has won six of nine races and reached the final of the Max C. Hempt Memorial at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs before finishing fourth in 1:48.4. The race was won by Adios contender McWicked, who is the 8-5 favorite in the third of Saturday’s three eliminations.

USTA/Ellen Harvey photo
Wendy and Nan Cameron with their 3-year-old pacing colt Cammikey.

“He’s a challenging colt,” Cameron said. “He certainly has calmed down a lot. Growing up he was quite a challenge. He was all boy.

“He’s still kind of ornery, but he’s very smart. We’ve got to watch him, but for the most part he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Cammikey still presents a challenge in getting him on the trailer.

“We tried every method there was, but we couldn’t get him on there,” Cameron said. “We found out the only way to get him on is if he’s hungry. So when we get him ready to load him, the only way to do it is skip breakfast.

“We put the breakfast in the trailer. Four men can’t load him, but that breakfast gets him on there. We shut him in, put the tailgate behind him. He gets a little upset.”

But the Camerons know how to handle horses, be them upset or docile, as they have been doing it for a long time now. As she approaches 90, Nan is still an integral part of the operation.

“When I left this morning to go to the track, she was in the barn working,” Wendy said on Thursday afternoon. “When I get home, she’ll have been mowing the lawn for four hours. She loves it.

“I try to keep her informed with everything we’re doing, and make sure she’s comfortable with the things Bill and I do together. It’s really fun for her to be a part of it. She never grew up with horses; she got into it when she met my dad.”

Chris Gooden photo
Cammikey is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the second of three Adios eliminations.

Wilfred “Pete” Cameron was a Meadows pioneer, as he started racing there when it opened in 1963. His first star in the Cam family was Cam Fella, a two-time Horse of the Year. Pete also owned and operated a Coca-Cola bottling business and, as the business grew, the horses were put on the backburner.

“After college I worked for the company,” Wendy said. “I worked there for 20 years until we sold the business, so in my second life I went back with the horses.”

When Pete became ill for a while, Nan took care of the horses herself. She doesn’t jog or train them, but did numerous other things to tend to their needs.

“She never grew up with them, but she learned,” Wendy said.

After Pete passed away, mother and daughter opened Cam Land in 1999 and have been partners ever since.

“I’m really fortunate; she’s always been a great role model for me,” Wendy said. “She’s very bright, has a great perspective on life. She’s really positive. Everything I’ve done she’s been a big supporter of.

“We both learned at the same time.”

The two have a tremendous love affair with their horses. Once Pete opened his Coke business he stopped breeding and began purchasing at the Harrisburg sales. After a while they started having foals again.

“When you foal them yourself and watch them grow up, it’s a little like your children,” Wendy said. “We just enjoy them very much. We’ve been so lucky with Cammikey. When he was nine months old he had a pretty crooked leg but we had so many people help him out to get him where he is.

“My mom is just thrilled about the Adios. I think this is a real highlight for her. Having watched it for so many years she’s pretty excited to have one of ours in it.”

Wendy said that while sometimes they watch the races together, most times she is in the paddock while Nan is on the rail.

“She just loves to be on the rail,” Wendy said. “At the Adios I’ll be watching from the apron. It will be a big night. We’re just excited for the opportunity to be in the race.”

And why wouldn’t they be? For the first time, one of their own is on a big stage in their own backyard.

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