05/12/2014 11:49AM

Bergman: Campbell trains some fast fillies

Derick Giwner
Gallie Bythe Beach earned $338,229 in her 2-year-old season.

When the two-year-old filly trotter Cooler Schooner scorched the Pocono surface last year with a 1:51 3/5 mile it sent shockwaves through the sport. Somehow there were voices behind the scenes attempting to tarnish the magnificent mile and the legitimacy of it.

This past Friday, those voices somehow were silent when Jimmy Takter unveiled a three-year-old trotter that blazed the Meadowlands oval in 1:51 2/5 in just his second start as a sophomore. Trixton was not even among the elite trotters in the two-year-old class last year, but if we’re to believe his mile this past Friday, he will enter that class this year.

On Saturday two miles were trotted under 1:51 on one program, with Sebastian K equaling the all-time fastest mile on a mile track in a stunning 1:50 1/5 performance.

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Well if the tele-timers and the track distances at the Meadowlands and Pocono have been established as accurate, we must assume that the sport has entered into a new era, especially when it comes to trotting horses. Whether with hobbles, as was the case with Cooler Schooner, or sans hobbles, as Trixton and Sebastian K were, the standardbred trotter is on course to reach new heights in 2014.

The advance of the speed of this breed is in evidence each time horses go to qualify with the 1:50 starting point now becoming the norm for the top flight pacers and the 1:53 mark necessary for elite trotters to prepare.

Trainer Jim Campbell sent forth some of his stakes caliber stock this past Saturday and the return of Cooler Schooner to the racetrack is something that truly has me excited. There really is no question of the enormous talent and extreme potential the daughter of Broadway Hall holds. The 1:51 3/5 mile was not her only moment to shine last year as she did capture a Breeders Crown elimination in 1:52 2/5.

It would have been impossible to tell last June, when she made a winning debut in a baby race at the Meadowlands in a rated 2:00 mile, what was in store for this filly. There was triumph and disappointment, and a lot of purse money left on the table. Trainer Jim Campbell hopes that there will be more positive and less negative this season and perhaps Cooler Schooner’s rated 1:56 mile is an indication that she’s come a long way over the winter.

“We’ve been training her behind other horses all winter,” Campbell said.

It is not surprising to see Campbell do everything in his power to keep his filly better mannered and more easily controlled in pressure situations.

“She was very ratable,” said Campbell. “She did what we wanted to do. We’re going to come back and qualify her again.”

The key to Saturday’s victory was that Cooler Schooner was on top of the field yet managed to rate the pace to her liking.

At the same time, Campbell has been around far too long in this business to consider one victory a trend. “We’re going to take it a week at a time,” Campbell said.

Manners are of course the big issue for Cooler Schooner, but history may indeed be on Campbell’s side this year. You see, Cooler Schooner’s older sister—Broadway Schooner—showed the same kind of wild blistering speed as a juvenile and also the same problems with her manners. In 2008, Broadway Schooner captured a Merrie Annabelle elimination in 1:56 1/5 but broke in the final and did not win another race that season. A year later as a three-year-old, Broadway Schooner not only captured the Hambletonian Oaks but the Breeders Crown as well for Jim Campbell.

On that note, Campbell indicated that he’s happy with the transition the filly has made from two to three. “She’s filled out and is a little bit longer,” Campbell said.

Taking it a generation further down the line, Pine Schooner, the dam of both Cooler Schooner and Broadway Schooner, made a break in stride in her lone two-year-old appearance in 1999 then came back a year later to be a stakes performer and Zweig Filly stakes champion for the same connections.

Family ties seem to be a part of the plan for Campbell. Beyond the fact that his brother is Hall of Famer John, Jim has been training sons and daughters of his past champions for years and he has another potential standout in the three-year-old filly Gallie Bythe Beach. One would expect no less from the daughter of the champion Somebeachsomewhere and the $1.8 million winning Galleria, a mare Campbell guided to an impressive career.

Gallie Bythe Beach qualified in 1:52 4/5 on Saturday, giving her trainer something to look forward to. “She was awesome today,” said Campbell, “She did it under wraps. We have some time with her so I may not want to come back in six days with her (Friday is the next scheduled Meadowlands qualifying date).”

While the sophomore filly was pacing near 1:53, other members of the three-year-old class were posting miles nearly three seconds faster. “They seem to be able to carry their speed so much better these days,” said Campbell. “I’m not really concerned with how fast they go as long as they do it the right way. And by that I mean without going all out.”

The trainer believes that the three-year-old pacing filly crop is one of the best that’s come along in quite some time, yet at the same time he believes his filly will be among the best in that group.

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On the pacing colt side, Campbell was more than pleased with the effort of Sometimes Said, a Well Said-sired colt owned by Jules Siegel’s Fashion Farms. Seven times second in 10 starts as a juvenile with but one victory, Sometimes Said paced a final half in :53 2/5 on the end of a 1:51 mile on May 6 at Pocono. “He’ll go in the Pa. Sire Stakes on May 17,” said Campbell of Sometimes Said’s first stakes engagement of 2014. The colt, a runner-up in last year’s Breeders Crown, is also eligible to the North America Cup.

As they often said in the game show “Concentration”, it’s still too early to figure out the puzzle of this three-year-old crop. That may be true for Jim Campbell’s stable at this stage, but the pieces appear to be in place for a spectacular season.