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--- California Harness Racing History ---

A True California Sportsman - Sol Camp

Sol Camp,, Who Buys and Tries for a Winner

THERE IS A SHORT, stocky, genial man who resides in Shafter, Calif., and who has developed the enviable reputation of never doing anything unless he does it well. This man doesn't just wade into a pond‑he goes in up to his neck, makes one great splash, and the resulting ripples are not ripples at all, but waves which run out to the farthest shores.

The gentleman's name is Camp—Sol Camp—and he comes from South Carolina, and he speaks with a slow drawl—but don't let that fool you. He likes to say of himself, "I'm jus' a pore country boy"—but he ain't. Some years ago be got hold of a few potatoes, and the blamed things have multiplied into one of the biggest farming and ranching empires in the West. Sol didn't just set and watch 'em multiply—he got in up to his neck—cotton, alfalfa, onions, sugar beets, barley, thousands of head of beef cattle, gins, mills, and the Lord only knows what else.

One other thing he got into about which the Lord, and pretty much everyone else knows, is the breeding and racing of Standardbred horses. He only took that up four or five years ago, but he went at it with the same enthusiasm, the same vital drive, which, in the beginning, he had applied to the potatoes. Today, no more than half way 'round the first turn, he's right up with the leaders in the light harness game. Wait until be bits his stride—then you can hang onto your hat!

Sol Camp believes that to breed winners and to race winners you must first get the best foundation stock there is. And he knows that to get it you can't keep your hand in your pocket. In 1947 he went east to Harrisburg for the sale of Standardbreds, and be startled the entire country by bidding in the yearling White Hanover for the record price of $42,000. "Why not"' says Camp—"I liked him." Nor is he too discouraged over the fact that all during 1948 his prize baby was on the sidelines due to lameness. "He's going sound again now," he tells you, "and we think he'll get to the races this year.

To prove that he was in no way slowed up by White Hanover's ailments, Camp went back to Lexington in 1948 and again topped the eastern markets by buying' two more untried yearlings, Mighty Sun for $28,000, and Dazzleway for $25,000. These two grand­looking youngsters are now in training under the watchful and experienced eyes of Charlie Witt at the Camp Farm at Springville, Calif.

And what if they don't pan out? Well, don't worry—Sol's in that water up to his neck now, and he's not going to start paddling for shore. He'll hop in his private plane this coming fall and buzz down on Lexington and Harrisburg for more of the same. That same constitutes the best blood‑lines in the world. A man like that is bound to win. What the heck! He always has‑ask the potatoes.

Sol Camp, who last year held the Presidency of the California Harness Horse Breeders' Association, and who has, since its formation, been one of its most progressive members, now quarters his stock on a beautiful ranch tucked in against the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, about 75 miles from Bakersfield, and an equal distance from his home in Shafter. Covering the ground in between doesn't bother him—he owns a good bit of it, anyway.

The training track at Springville is somehow emblematic of the spirit of the man himself. You'd never in your wildest dreams believe a track could have been built there. It is literally blasted out of the winding canyon whose towering brush‑covered walls slice back into the vast reaches of the Sierras. One side is cut through the canyon's walls, and the other side is a high fill above a mountain stream. The Camp ranch house is located on a knoll rearing up from the canyon floor, and directly in the middle of the track infield. The only way to reach it is by a tunneled roadway which goes underneath the track, or by several walkways bridged off the inside rail of the course from the fill to the steeply sloping sides of the knoll. You can sit on the ranch house porch and watch the horses jog by you on the two filled turns and the long filled straightaway above the stream.

The cut straightaway is at the rear of the house, disappearing against the canyon wall. I took my ease there with Camp and a cool drink while Charlie Witt jogged Red Streak and some of the youngsters by. There was something almost fantastic about it­seeing them appear up out of the canyon's mouth on your left, drift down the stretch, and disappear around the curve to your right, like a train going into a mountain tunnel.

A huge stable, built in the old‑fashioned high‑roofed manner with a large loft, has recently been completed down the canyon from the track. It is magnificently appointed with twenty or more airy box stalls, and big tack rooms at either end. An adjoining canyon opens up into spacious upland meadows where broodmares and odd‑lot stock are pastured.

Besides Mighty Sun and Dazzleway, stock quartered in the racing barn at Camp Farms, and now in winter training under the watchful eye of Charlie Witt, includes: Justice Dillon 2.04, by justice Worthy; Ginger Tass, p, 3, 2.07, by ArletanSaucy Miss; Jennie Key, two‑year­old trotter, by Long Key-Dotty; Adios Hal, two‑year‑old, pacer, by Hal Dale; White Hanover, three‑year‑old by Spencer Scott; Hal Chief, threeyear‑old pacer, by Chief Abbedale; Macara, p, 2, 2.07, by Mc I Win‑Cara, this one a winner of 6 out of 7 starts; Orpha's Comet, two‑year‑old trotter, by Scotland's Comet‑Orpha Dale; Isabel Primrose, two‑year‑old filly by Peter Primrose out of Isabel Abbe, the dam of Red Streak; Prince J, p, 2, 2.07, by Scotland‑Marie Jay; Volo Ray, two‑year‑old colt by Volomite; Mighty Sassy, two‑year‑old by Volomite; Frontiersman, 2.05 on half­mile track, winner of $38,000; Major Camp, 2, 2.052/5, by Dean Hanover, out of Follow Me; and the stallion, Red Streak 2.02.


Dazzleway and Sol Camp, bought for $25,000 last fall.

The short man in the picture is Mr. Camp (left), stallion Red Streak 2.02; the other man is trainer Charlie Witt.
Red Streak

A view of the training track of Sol Camp at Springville, Calif., with the ranch house in the infield.