08/20/2015 4:02PM

Pocono: Campbell returns with strong Super Stakes Saturday arsenal

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Derick Giwner
JL Cruze has won 16 of 18 starts this year.

John Campbell returns to the sulky on Saturday night just in time for The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono’s Super Stakes card. The track is celebrating its 50th anniversary and Campbell hopes to join in the festivities with some key mounts as he returns from a fractured left wrist.

“I trained Muscle Diamond last Saturday (August 15) and it felt fine,” said Campbell about his wrist. “The bones lined up perfectly after the fracture and I’ve been wearing a cast.”

Campbell suffered the injury in a freak qualifying accident when his horse suddenly slowed down sharply on the final turn. The sulky wheels got tangled with another horse and Campbell was thrown.

“The timing couldn’t have been worse,” said Campbell, a Hall of Famer who wound up missing a drive in the Hambletonian because of the incident.

Muscle Diamond was to be that drive and that’s a horse he appears excited to return to. “He just needs to get some more work. He hasn’t had enough races,” said Campbell. “I think he can go with the top five.”

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Muscle Diamond’s lack of earnings placed him in the second consolation for the Colonial Trot, a $100,000 event carded as race three on the 14-race program that commences at 5:35 p.m., an earlier post than usual.

Two races later Campbell will return to the sulky behind the biggest success story of 2015, JL Cruze. The 4-year-old altered son of Crazed has won 16 of 18 starts this year for trainer Eric Ell, finishing second on the other two occasions.

“He was actually very good in those two losses,” said Campbell.

JL Cruze went a huge mile in defeating Sebastian K on July 4 at Pocono in a 1:51 mile. The nose victory was a major accomplishment for the rags-to-riches story and it also proved to be the final racing start of Sebastian K. The fifth race was named the Sebastian K and it will mark the retirement of the 10-year-old that will enter stallion duty at Hanover Shoe Farms in 2016.

JL Cruze has earned $612,788 this year and is as unique a story as they come. “It’s great for the sport when people see that a horse like this can come from anywhere with any type breeding,” said Campbell. “There have been horses before that have climbed the ladder and gotten to this level but never were able to stay there. He’s reached the top and stayed.”

Campbell has a mount in each of the three premier events of the night. Perhaps his best chance for an upset will come in race 12, the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine with Split The House. It will be the first time Campbell has sat behind the son of Rocknroll Hanover.

“I’ve watched his races in Canada and he’s got talent, but he didn’t have the experience to go with those horses,” said Campbell, referring to the North America Cup eliminations where Split The House was making just his fifth career start.

Since then Split The House has captured his last three starts including a victory in the $200,000 New Jersey Classic on July 25 at the Meadowlands.

“He went a big trip in the New Jersey Classic and he beat some good horses including Artspeak,” said Campbell.
Split The House drew post four outside of the division leader Wiggle It Jiggleit (post 1) and inside North America Cup winner Wakizashi Hanover (post 7).

Trainer Jimmy Takter has five entered in the $500,000 Colonial Trot, race 11 on the program, and he’s entrusted Campbell to sit behind the extremely well-bred Canepa Hanover. The pair will start from post eight. Campbell did a tremendous job for Takter last year guiding the fortunes of Nuncio through his 3-year-old season. In Canepa Hanover Campbell knows there is plenty of talent. “I think he went the best race of any 3-year-old this year in the Goodtimes elimination,” said Campbell. That 1:51 3/5 mile came at Mohawk in June and Canepa Hanover has not won a race since then. He’ll have his work cut out on Saturday with Hambletonian winner Pinkman landing post two in this field and rival Crazy Wow the coveted pole position.

Campbell has already had great success with The Show Returns this year as a longshot. He returns to the bike behind her in the $350,000 Valley Forge for sophomore pacing fillies, race 10 on the card.  The sister to champion Put On A Show captured the New Jersey Sire Stakes final for Campbell in May at odds of 40-1 and then finished second in the Fan Hanover at Mohawk at odds of 113-1 in June.

“I think she’s had to go pretty hard early in some of these races,” said Campbell of The Show Returns. “I hope I can get her a trip where we leave and sit on the inside.”

Rated at 15-1 in the morning line, The Show Returns drew post five inside morning line choice Moonlit Dance.

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