10/26/2014 11:14AM

Legendary Minnesota owner-breeder Casby dies

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. – Minnesota racing lost a legend Saturday when owner-breeder Camelia Casby died at the age of 63. Casby never recovered from a massive heart attack that occurred Oct. 18.

Casby, a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame, will be remembered not only for the Minnesota champions she bred and raced but also for her strong belief that Minnesota-bred horses should be able to compete anywhere.

“If the breeding is done carefully and we’re willing to spend the money, there is no reason Minnesota bred horses cannot win races anywhere in the country,” Casby once said.

Casby backed up her assertions with action as she sent her Minnesota-bred horses to other racetracks to compete with no reservations, even winning with Minnesota-bred first-time starter Polar Plunge at Fair Grounds in a maiden special weight.

Her divisional champions included Polar Plunge and Talkin Bout, and she also campaigned the New York-bred multiple stakes winner Law Enforcement, whom she brought to Minnesota to stand at stud at Dove Hill Farm. Her latest winner came in a New York-bred allowance race Wednesday at Belmont with her homebred filly Wildnightattheopera.

“Cam’s passing leaves a void in Minnesota racing that will be impossible to fill,” said Canterbury Park President and CEO Randy Sampson. “She experienced great success as a breeder and owner and has made a huge contribution to racing at Canterbury Park since we reopened in 1995. She had many friends in this industry and should be remembered certainly for her racing success but more so for her kindness and generosity. Cam always put the interests of her horses and the people that cared for them first.”

“Cam wanted women to succeed in this business,” Dove Hill Farm owner Lisa Duoos said.  “She was so helpful to me and was one of my biggest cheerleaders.  She was a great friend, and I already miss her terribly.”

“I’ve known Cam my entire life,” recalled Alex Canchari, one of Canterbury’s leading riders. “She was such a sweet lady that would bring presents every Christmas for my older brother, sister, and me when we were kids. I am really so sad about this.”

Casby once bought bicycles for all the kids on the backside at Canterbury Park. Another year, she donated a substantial number of books for the track’s summer program for backstretch workers’ children.

“Cam was unfailingly kind,” said horse owner Heather Frisbie. “She took me under her wing from the beginning, was willing to share her ideas, could talk breeding for hours, and even tried to protect me a bit. I learned a lot from her, and I cannot fathom what it will be like at Canterbury without her.”

Casby is survived by a brother, Kurt, and her mother, Sylvia. Funeral arrangements are pending.