Updated on 09/15/2011 1:39PM

He's trying to win one for Camac

Email

JAMAICA, N.Y. - When trainer Bruce Jackson tightens the girth on Gallant Snowman for Saturday's Gallant Fox Handicap at Aqueduct, he will be feeling the normal anxiety that goes with running a horse in a $100,000 graded stakes race.

But there will be even more emotions involved this time. Gallant Snowman was formerly trained by Robert Camac, the personable horseman who was killed on Dec. 6 at his home in Oldmans Township, N.J. Camac's wife, Maryann, was also killed, and her son and Camac's stepson, Wade M. Russell, has been charged with double homicide.

Gallant Snowman was one of 10 Arthur Appleton-owned horses formerly trained by Camac that were transferred to Jackson, who had previously trained horses for Appleton. Jackson's relationship with Camac went back 12 years, since he began training on his own.

"He was a wonderful guy," Jackson said of Camac in a recent interview. "When I first started training horses way back in 1989 he sold me my first-ever horse and my first-ever stable pony, too. He was always very helpful when one approached with him questions or concerns. He was certainly someone I looked up to immensely."

At this time of year, Jackson is based at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland. During the summer, Jackson stables at Delaware Park, and his barn was not far from Camac's. Jackson said he couldn't believe it when he heard that Camac had been killed.

"You'd be hard-pressed to find anybody on the racetrack to offer a bad word about him," Jackson said. "It was a senseless tragedy."

Gallant Snowman is a lightly raced 3-year-old son of Frosty the Snowman. He has won four of eight career starts - two via disqualification - and is coming off his career-best performance, winning the restricted Draft Card Stakes at Delaware Park on Oct. 15. The Gallant Fox will be his first race beyond nine furlongs, but Jackson does not believe distance will be a problem.

"I think he's a lovely, big, strapping horse with a wonderful way of going," Jackson said. "He has very fluent action to him, he floats along effortlessly. I would expect him to run a very big race. He's fresh, coming off a really nice race, and he should have a light impost."

In fact, Gallant Snowman was assigned 110 pounds for the Gallant Fox, run at the marathon distance of 1 5/8 miles. Because he is one of the lighter-weighted horses in the field, Gallant Snowman could be excluded from the field should more than 12 horses be entered. As many as 17 horses were being considered for the race as of Saturday.

If Gallant Snowman does get to run, Jackson said he would be thinking of Camac in the paddock.

"I don't know how to verbalize it," Jackson said. "You would most certainly be thinking about Mr. Camac. He always liked this horse; he felt the horse was coming into himself. It'll certainly be with mixed emotions."