W. Cothran “Cot” Campbell, who innovated the concept of racing partnerships with his Dogwood Stable and was an ardent advocate for steeplechase racing, died Saturday at his home in Aiken, S.C. He was 91.
He and his wife, Anne, were longtime fans of the Aiken Steeplechase and attended the races until the past year.
A native of New Orleans, he was drawn to racing at an early age and said he owed his affection for racing to Man o’ War, whom he encountered in the latter years of the champion’s stud career. He built a successful advertising business in Atlanta while attracting investors to Dogwood as an opportunity to get into racing at an affordable price.
He had a good eye for a horse, and Dogwood campaigned more than 80 stakes winners. His first major winner was Mrs. Cornwallis, the 1971 Alcibiades Stakes winner. With his penchant for marketing, he developed life-long relationships with Dogwood investors and eventually disposed of the ad agency to devote all his time to the racing syndicates.
He moved his family and Dogwood to Aiken in 1986. Dogwood had its first classic winner in 1990 when Summer Squall defeated Unbridled in the Preakness Stakes (Gr. 1). Dogwood campaigned 1987 steeplechase Eclipse Award winner Inlander, who was trained by Charles Fenwick Jr.
Summer Squall sired Dogwood’s 1996 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner Storm Song, the Eclipse champion that year. In the latter years of his Dogwood enterprise, Campbell had one of his very best, Palace Music, who won the 2013 Belmont Stakes (Gr. 1).
Palace Malice also won the following year’s Metropolitan Handicap (Gr. 1) and currently is at stud at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky. He had his first crop of yearlings in 2018.
Although racing’s establishment at first looked warily upon Campbell and Dogwood, his buoyant personality and solid, common-sense judgment led to leadership positions in the Thoroughbred industry.
He was a member of The Jockey Club and was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame as a Pillar of the Turf this summer. His accomplishments, both with Dogwood and in the Aiken community, were highlighted in the Aiken Fall Steeplechase program on Saturday, the day of his passing.
He continued to support steeplechasing into the current decade. He was a featured speaker at the first steeplechase ownership conference held at Shawan Downs in 2015.
A celebration of Cot Campbell’s remarkable life will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church in Aiken with the Rev. Ronnie Brewer officiating. A reception will follow on the grounds of the Aiken Training Track, 538 Two Notch Road. Shellhouse Funeral Home in Aiken is handling funeral arrangements.