On the first anniversary of the death of Cot Campbell, Aiken officials, friends, colleagues in the horse industry, former employees and others turned out at the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum to remember Dogwood Stable’s founder and president.
Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon and Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh attended the Cot Campbell Tribute and Silent Auction and so did former Aiken City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tempore Reggie Ebner.
Legacy Stable’s Brad Stauffer and Ron Stevens, who used to train Dogwood’s thoroughbreds at the Aiken Training Track, also were there along with Aiken Horse Park Foundation President Jack Wetzel.
Hall of Fame and Museum Coordinator Lisa Hall estimated that around 250 people showed up during the 2½-hour event’s first 60 or so minutes, and more continued to trickle in.
Beth Newburn sported a pin of a jockey riding a thoroughbred that was decorated in the green and yellow colors of Dogwood’s racing silks.
Her husband, Bob, wore a button with the name of Dogwood’s 2013 Belmont Stakes winner, Palace Malice, on it. He also had on a lapel pin featuring Dogwood’s silks and the name of Dogwood’s champion 2-year-old champion filly of 1996, Storm Song.
“He was the best ambassador that Aiken ever had,” said Beth of Campbell.
She recalled when Campbell declared, while being interviewed on television six years ago, that there would be dancing in the streets of Aiken after Palace Malice captured the Belmont Stakes.
Beth said she also appreciated how Campbell “came back to Aiken and shared all his wins with the community.”
Sondra Katzenstein, an Aiken native who now lives in Gastonia, North Carolina, wore a Palace Malice T-shirt to the Tribute and Auction.
“When Palace Malice was here (getting a break from racing), I would come down about every other weekend,” Katzenstein said. “I told Cot that I was the No. 1 North Carolina fan of Palace Malice and they should name I-20 the Palace Malice Freeway.”
Campbell’s widow, Anne, gave a short speech in the Hall of Fame and Museum’s courtyard, welcoming everyone.
“You have no idea how much this means to me to see all of these Aikenites, friends and lovers of Cot,” she said.
Anne also expressed gratitude for the support Dogwood had received from local residents over the years.
“Oh my gosh, how big a part you played in our joy and our success,” she said. “When we got home (after Palace Malice’s Belmont victory), there were about 100 people there and there were flowers and there were banners. It really meant a lot. We always felt that our Dogwood story was so intertwined with Aiken.”
During the Tribute and Silent Auction, an exhibit celebrating Cot Campbell’s life opened in the Hall of Fame and Museum.
It includes photos of him as a child, awards that he won and displays featuring his favorite Dogwood horses.
The exhibit will continue through Nov. 25.
For sale during the silent auction were more than 50 trophies won by Dogwood’s thoroughbreds. Some were sterling silver, and others were silver plated. There also was a large variety of crystal bowls and vases.
Prints of a painting of Storm Song also were offered, and one could be acquired for a donation of at least $25.
In addition, refreshments were served.
All proceeds benefited the Hall of Fame and Museum.
“There are some beautiful trophies here, and it means a lot to me to know that they will go to people who want them and who care about horses,” said Anne Campbell, who talked to people one-on-one after her speech. “I am happy to share these trophies with Aiken to show what a big part of Dogwood the community has always been, and I hope this brings us even closer together. I am delighted with today’s response.”
Cot Campbell, who was 91 at the time of his death, was inducted into thoroughbred racing’s national hall of fame in Saratoga Springs, New York, in August 2018.