Palace Malice owner Cot Campbell has taken long road to Belmont Stakes winner's circle

Palace Malice and jockey Mike Smith take to Palace Malice and jockey Mike Smith take to the winners circle at the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes. The 3-year-old dark bay colt won for the second time in eight career starts and for the first time beyond 6 1/2 furlongs. The jockey, 47, won his second Belmont Stakes. (June 8, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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Saturday's Belmont Stakes would fit nicely into the most recent of the three books Cot Campbell has written: "Memoirs of a Longshot."

His horse, Palace Malice, went off at 13-1 odds and came home 3 1/4 lengths ahead of the 14-horse field, leaving Preakness champ Oxbow second and Kentucky Derby winner Orb third.

The upset came in veteran horseman Campbell's 86th year, in what he called "the twilight of my career, to put it euphemistically," long after a stint in the Navy, work as a water ski show emcee, a nightclub car parker, sportswriter, apprentice mortician, advertising copywriter and long-ago battle with alcoholism.

"I don't think this will accelerate my retirement," Campbell said. "I have cut back. We used to carry 65 horses. We've got 30, 35 now , and I'm just going to play it as it comes along.

"God knows, I've had the most wonderful life a human being can have. This is a great chapter in it, so I won't do anything except keep on doing what I'm doing. I don't want to chase any rabbits I can't catch."

In the company of preposterously well-to-do thoroughbred owners -- oil executives, former Wall Street types, a Canadian diamond magnate, just to note a few who sent horses into Saturday's Belmont Stakes -- Campbell brought as intriguing a personal back story as any.

His grandfather, Dick Cothran, was an original member of the New Orleans Jockey Club, though Cot didn't get into racing until his 40s. He made his fortune as an advertising executive and, as far back as 1969, formulated racing partnerships. He is a member of the Jockey Club, winner of the 2010 Eclipse Award for Merit.

Campbell's first Belmont Stakes entrant was Impeachment, who finished fifth in 2000, and he didn't have another until Palace Malice, who came to Saturday's 145th running with a need to be reclaimed from the shadows.

Since a victory at Saratoga last August, Palace Malice had not won in five races and, worse, was coming off a seventh place at the Louisiana Derby, a second in the Blue Grass and a sad 12th at the Kentucky Derby this spring.

"I was just hoping he'd have an absence of bad luck," Campbell said. "Just don't have anything go against him. Had trouble in Louisiana, didn't go good in the Derby. God knows, we went good today."

In fact, Campbell decided, "I wouldn't be surprised" if Saturday's victory ranked as the best moment in Dogwood Stable history. "I don't know what would beat it," he said. "This is a race that means a lot to me. The tradition of it. It's hot stuff."

Good enough material, in fact, to fit in either of his other two books, "Lightning in a Jar" or "Rascals and Racehorses." Or maybe, he said, "If there's another book in me, this will push it on a little bit."

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