In his hospital bed last December, retired Charlottetown lawyer Larry Campbell told son Richard and grandson Brent that “it would be great if you guys would get a nice horse that I can watch race at Charlottetown”. Larry passed away shortly afterwards and thus began the search for a good horse that would do at the always tough Charlottetown track. The family had campaigned iron-sided Buck Barker (50 wins lifetime) and had shares in the 2019 two-year filly stakes star Streakazana who was even better this year winning in 1:54:1 and banking over $65,500 before being sold for $36,500. Unfortunately for Larry, who passed away December 27, 2019, he did not get to see the horse that the boys brought home to Charlottetown.
The Campbell boys inherited the love for harness racing from their dad who grew up in Sackville, NB before moving to Charlottetown. He was married to Millicent Lindon who was the sister of former top Fredericton horseman, Ned Lindon, who raced the top-class horse Steady Chris in the early 1970s as well as Gold Cup and Saucer Trial starter Ryan Flyin. Ned was a meticulous caretaker-trainer- driver and a top blacksmith. When horses from the Mike MacDonald Stable campaigned in that part of New Brunswick, they would be left in Ned’s care. When Richard and brother Scott were young, they’d often spend time with Ned and wait for the Walter Dale, at one time one of the key stops on the Maritime invitational Circuit. It is no surprise that the Campbell boys inherited their love for harness racing.
Richard Campbell, the older of Larry’s boys, is the one most active and he’s been a familiar face at the Marc Campbell barn at both the CDP grounds and at the Winsloe operation which was once Dr Ian Moore’s barn. Brent is married to Ambyr MacPhee, Brian & the late Isabel’s daughter, and he and Richard raced many horses that over the past number of years. During high school and university, Brent spent his summers working with many talented horsemen including David O’Brien, Brian MacPhee, Earl Watts and Marc Campbell.
In the hunt for that elusive top horse, they contacted talented Ontario trainer-driver Robert Shepherd who had helped in the past. They were back and forth with the owner of Time To Dance and when the four year old was dropped into a $15,000 claimer, they decided to take a chance. He had showed miles in 1:54 and 1:55 over the Flamboro half-mile track, but that did not stop “Shep” from recommending the horse as a buy for the Campbells. The horse impressed Newfoundland native and trainer Matt McDonald who had Time to Dance at Rideau Carleton for a few starts, as well as sharing ownership in a number of Campbell horses over the years; he jumped aboard for a 10% share of the horse. “He could leave and was real handy, had no problems at all on the half mile turns, and is one of those horses that could go more over the half mile oval, than on a big track”, that’s what I told the boys, said Robert Shepherd. What an under-statement!
Time to Dance qualified on May 31, 2020 at Red Shores Charlottetown winning easily in 1:58:2 and made his first pari-mutuel start two weeks later winning off by himself in 1:55:2 for trainer-driver Marc Campbell.
“Marc decided to race the horse out of the Moore stable in Winsloe” chuckled Brent when I talked to him in Charlottetown recently. Marc had the horse at the track in Charlottetown but he sulked in there, so he moved to the farm. “He is always turned out for a couple hours every day and he loves it”, said Marc. “He is so easy on himself, loves to have a nap (even in the Paddock before Trial 1). He will even eat his hay in his stall while lying down, added Marc .
Time to Dance kept getting better and when the Governors Plate rolled around, he was entered in the $25,000 event at Summerside. He was a fast closing 2nd to eventual winner Bugsy MaGuire with catch-driver Adam Merner beating stable-mate Rose Run Quest (Marc Campbell) but it showed he could compete with the big boys on the Maritime invitational circuit. Just prior to the Gold Cup and Saucer Trials, Time to Dance was a close 2nd to Rose Run Quest beaten three parts of a length in 1:52:2, confirming to the ownership group that he would be entered in the prestigious and lucrative $60,000 Gold Cup and Trials.
In the first Trial, Time to Dance raced from off the pace but stormed home to beat Screen Test and Simple Kinda Man in 1:52:4, a new lifetime best. In the other elimination, heavy favorite and Mohawk invader Casimir Richie P was much the best winning easily in 1:51:2 over Rose Run Quest (Marc Campbell) and hard closing Woodmere Ideal Art. On Tuesday evening the all important Gold Cup and Saucer draw took place and Time to Dance drew Post 2, while the other Marc Campbell trainee Rose Run Quest drew the outside eight hole. The draw resulted in Marc making the decision to drive Time to Dance, while Rose Run Quest raced for top driver Gilles Barrieau.
Time to Dance, a 4-year-old son of A Rocknroll Dance out of the Bettors Delight mare Mystical Gypsy, blasted off the gate in the Saturday night Gold Cup and Saucer sprinting to the quarter in 26:2 and the half in 54:1. The hot fractions gave hope to backers of Lisburn (Ken Arsenault) and Woodmere Ideal Art (David Dowling) who closed in on the pace-setter inching closer at the tote board with the outcome in doubt.
Time to Dance dug deep and rallied gamely holding on by three-quarters of a length over a stubborn Lisburn and Woodmere Ideal Art.
A jubilant Brent Campbell, accompanied by his wife Ambyr and twin daughters Brielle and Mylah, was lost for words and finally Brent laughingly said to his dad Richard and mother, Jacinta “Wouldn’t Gramps and Uncle Ned get a kick out of this”. People have been trying for decades to win the Gold Cup and Saucer and it is great to see local owners enjoy the spoils of victory.
2020 Gold Cup and Saucer Summary, August 22 CDP
- Time to Dance (Marc Campbell) 1
- Lisburn (Ken Arsenault) 2
- Woodmere Ideal Art (Dave Dowling) 3
- Simple KInda Man (Jason Hughes) 4
- Rose Run Quest (Gilles Barrieau) 5
- Father of the Year (Mike Downey) 6
- Screen Test (Corey MacPherson) 7
- Casimir Richie P (Dale Spence) 8
26:2, 54:1, 1:23:3 1:51:4
The Gold Cup and Saucer win in 1:51:4 chopped a full second off his previous lifetime best and established the pacer as the best in the region. He won two more top class events at Charlottetown then travelled to Truro Raceway winning the Johnny Conroy Memorial in a hot 1:52:2 over Silver Beast and Woodmere Ideal Art. He closed of the season with two more top class wins extending his win streak to eight, a nice way to finish off the 2020 campaign.
The connections of Time To Dance extend sincere thanks to trainer-driver, Marc Campbell (a distant cousin), his wife Tasha, Kyle Gillis, Ryan Wilkie, catch driver Adam Merner as well as blacksmith Brian MacPhee for the horses’ success. Since the talented MacPhee started shoeing, the horse has been undefeated (8 for 8).
Marc Campbell thinks the best is yet to come from this horse, who has just 52 starts at 2,3 and 4; and who will argue with the Region’s top trainer-driver of a horse who knows how to take care of himself.