Hall of Fame Driver John Campbell will take over as President of the Hambletonian Society effective July 1, 2017, replacing Tom Charters who was brought in to run the Society when the Breeders Crown races were conceived. After 20 years, he has decided it was time to take it easy. Charters deserves his break and the industry's thanks.
However, the ascension to the Presidency of the Hambletonian Society appears to mark the end of an era, as Campbell has announced he would fulfill all his driving commitments through June 30, suggesting he will be handing up the reigns and retiring from the sulky, ending a career which has resulted in over 10,600 wins and $299 million in purse earnings. You can read the press release for the rest of his career highlights.
Of course, in picking a new leader for the Society, one can't pick a better person than John Campbell. Not only is he a respected horsemen, he has a certain gravitas and presence with the media. There is no better representative of the sport than him among active participants. Of course, now comes his biggest challenge, the industry itself.
I realize the respect one has in the sulky may not translate to success as the head of a breeders organization, an industry which has had a hard time in recent years but if someone can build a consensus, it is John Campbell. It isn't as if he is coming into this position cold, he has been the President of the Grand Circuit as well as involved with the Hambletonian Society since being elected a director in 1992. He has enough time in the industry to know what is happening and he has the leadership abilities to be successful.
The baton is being passed. I hope it is properly recognized. I would suggest if anyone is entitled to a farewell tour of racetracks, it is Campbell. Hopefully it will come to fruition.