06/20/2013 1:37PM

Dogwood Stables, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners to officially merge

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Barbara D. Livingston
Cot Campbell, shown here after winning the Belmont Stakes earlier this month with Palace Malice, has entered in a partnership agreement for his Dogwood Stables with Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.

Prominent Thoroughbred partnerships Dogwood Stables and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, which have a working relationship dating to last year, will officially merge effective July 1, Dogwood president W. Cothran “Cot” Campbell and Eclipse president Aron Wellman announced Thursday.

All new yearling, 2-year-old, and older horse purchases will be made and managed by Eclipse in the name of Eclipse/Dogwood. Horses will race in that name, with racing colors alternating.

Runners currently competing for Dogwood partnerships will not be affected, and will continue to be managed by Campbell, who in recent years has scaled back his operation. The outfit recently sent out Palace Malice to capture the Belmont Stakes. The colt became the second classic winner for Campbell—who is widely considered the originator of the modern racing partnership model—joining Dogwood’s 1990 Preakness Stakes winner Summer Squall. 

In April 2012, Dogwood and Eclipse formed an arrangement in which South Carolina-based Dogwood was able to offer its members shares in Eclipse runners; meanwhile, Eclipse gained access to Dogwood’s training grounds in Aiken, S.C. The venture also streamlined both groups' financial operations under a single chief financial officer, former Dogwood treasurer Bill Victor.

“The loose connection we have had with Aron Wellman and Eclipse is one that has worn well. What was described earlier as ‘going steady’ is now going to be a marriage,” Campbell said. “As I cracked after winning the Belmont with Palace Malice, ‘This great win is not likely to accelerate my retirement,’ and it won’t. I will enjoy continuing to manage Dogwood existing partnerships, but our client roster will now be offered participation in the new horses formed and managed by Aron Wellman and Eclipse/Dogwood.”

Jack Sadler, who has served as Dogwood’s vice president for 37 years, will become vice president of operations for Eclipse, but will continue partnership servicing duties with Dogwood. Victor will assume the role of chief financial officer for Eclipse, but will maintain responsibility for existing Dogwood partnerships. Both will remain in the current Dogwood office in Aiken. Eclipse also has offices in Del Mar, Calif., and Springboro, Ohio.

The majority of new young horses will be trained at Dogwood’s base in Aiken, run by Brad Stauffer and Ron Stevens.

“I will look in on all aspects of the Eclipse/Dogwood operation—when asked to,” Campbell said. “But the effectiveness of Aron Wellman and Eclipse has been established dramatically. Since he and co-founder Lee Midkiff launched their endeavor in the fall of 2011, they have won 13 stakes races with eight different horses, and right now the outfit is ranked among America’s top five in graded stakes wins.”

Top runners campaigned by Wellman and Midkiff include In Lingerie, winner of the Grade 1 Spinster last fall at Keeneland; and Byrama, who captured the Grade 1 Vanity last Saturday at Hollywood Park.

“Cot Campbell, his brand, staff and family are pure class and to be provided the opportunity to live up to the high standard he has set is a responsibility I do not take lightly,” Wellman said. “We have come to know many of the Dogwood faithful and we’re keen to welcome them into the Eclipse family. It is an honor to be handpicked by Cot to carry on his esteemed legacy. This is the ultimate endorsement.”