Late Trainer Camac Remembered by Colleagues

Late Trainer Camac Remembered by Colleagues
Photo:
Late trainer Robert Camac.
With his stepson being held on $1.8-million bail, deceased trainer Robert Camac was remembered by his colleagues at Philadelphia Park over the weekend.

Camac, 60, and his wife, Maryann V. Camac, 55, were shot to death on Thursday, Dec. 6. Their bodies were found on the back porch of the house at their Oldmans Township farm at about 8:30 a.m. after a neighbor called 911 to report gunshots.

Wade Russell, Maryann Camac's son, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He also was charged with forgery, theft by deception, and uttering a forged instrument in the theft of $13,000 from Camac, Salem County prosecutor John Bergh said.

According to Equine Line, Camac-trained horses won 1,811 races, 18% of starters, since 1976, with stable earnings totaling more than $28.5-million. In addition to Jolie's Halo, other top horses trained by Camac included multiple stakes winner Wire Me Collect, grade II winner Wide Country, multiple stakes winner Cagey Exuberance, and Lord Gallant.

Camac also was active at Philadelphia Park, where he was the leading trainer for the 1988 fall-winter meet.

"I first met Bob in 1968," said jockey Tony Black, the all-time leading rider at Philadelphia Park. "We had a very productive relationship, although it had its ups and downs, like every relationship does...Bob was a good listener, and he'd give you advice if you asked for it. I think he enjoyed people asking his opinion about things; it made him feel like he was respected, which he was. He'll be sorely missed."

Said Al Johnson, a trainer and former agent for jockey Julie Krone, and one of Camac's best friends: "I'm having a hard time realizing what happened. Bob didn't have any enemies, and was very well-liked and respected. He was the best judge of horses I've ever seen."

Sam Boulmetis Jr., a steward at Philadelphia Park, said most of Camac's owners are either in the process of transferring the horses to other trainers or, in certain cases, getting out of the game altogether because they don't want another trainer. The flag at the Pennsylvania track was at half-mast Dec. 8-9 in memory of Camac.

The Trentonian newspaper reported that sources at Philadelphia Park said checks sent by racehorse owners to Camac in payment for his services -- in excess of $70,000 -- were intercepted and cashed by Russell, and that Camac had filed a lawsuit accusing his stepson of forgery. Camac recently complained that he hadn't received payment for services for more than 60 days from his owners. A court date had been set for next week.

Camac was shot once in the chest with a shotgun. His wife was shot several times in the chest and abdomen. The shotgun was recovered, but not at the scene, Bergh said. He wouldn't say where it was found.

Russell, 36, of Carneys Point Township, N.J., was questioned and charged with the forgery Dec. 6 and initially cooperated, Bergh said. He was held overnight and then charged Dec. 7 with the killings.

Among the top horses trained by Camac was Jolie's Halo, winner of the 1992 Iselin Handicap (gr. I) at Monmouth Park. His horses have won at least one stakes at Delaware Park for each of the last five years.

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