Pole Position, highweighted at 126 pounds, fought off several strong challenges to win the $111,800 John B. Campbell Handicap yesterday at Bowie by a half-length over Majesty's World. Longshot Frejus closed fast to finish third, a neck farther back.
Pole Position brought a career record of 14 victories in 27 starts into the Campbell and Bowie railbirds wondered aloud whether Racing Secretary Larry Abbundi had burdened the 4-year-old too severely at 126. He had never won at the Campbell distance of 1 1/4 miles.
Jockey Gunnar lindberg was able to set a leisurely pace of 1:14 for the six furlongs and 1:39 for the mile in the feature. When Majesty's World drew close with the stretch before them, Lindberg received a quality response from Pole Position that never seriously left the issue in doubt, despite the narrow margin of victory. Pole Position was clocked in 2:05 2/5.
"This is my first $100,000 winner," Lindberg said. "He rated well and was easy to handle. He just hates to have a horse get near and pass him."
Jorge Tejeira, riding Majesty's World, said his horse "had a perfect trip. Got through on the rail and I thought I had him at the quarter pole. That winner is a game horse."
The running time for the 26th running of the Campbell was well below the track record of 2:04 set by Mr. George in 1978. The final quarter was run in 26 seconds, suggesting that weight was taking its toll on Pole Position and that Majesty's World was out of steam.
Trainer John Tammaro III, handler of Majesty's World and stablemate Telly Hill, said, "Telly Hill goes back to New Jersey. He's Jersey-bred and is unbeatable in races there. Majesty's World goes to Monmouth next. He's sharp now and, you can file this one, is unbeatable on turf. His only start on grass, he buried the best grassers around and there are a lot of good races for him there."
Pole Position has earned more than $400,000 and is scheduled to run next in the $50,000 Jack R. Johnston Handicap at Sportsman's Park in Chicago, March 22. Trainer Goody Goodwin, who has handled the winner since his debut at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta, said, "I knew I had a good one. This horse has won at remote tracks in Canada, won at Santa Anita and now a fine race like the Campbell. He proved himself today."
The Campbell was run in spring-like weather and the crowd of 15,333, who walked past picket lines set up by striking electrical workers, pushed a surprising $2,177,155 through the mutuel machines, both records for Bowie this season.
Bowie General Manager Al Karwacki said, "Our employes did a fine job. I'm appreciative of everything they've done. We proved that people will come out to see a class race and the Campbell is just that -- a class race."
Pole Position rewarded the favorite players with a $5.20 payoff.
Meanwhile, outside the track, Don Guthrie, president of the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1501, said on the picket line, "There has been movement in the negotiations between management and our union and we decided to cool it until we see what substance there is to the latest proposals."
The electrical workers struck Feb. 29 when negotiations broke off. Talks were resumed Friday and are scheduled to continue Monday at the Quality Court Motel in Towson, Md.
A joint committee of the Maryland Legislature voted 6-0 Friday to recommend an extension of the current race track medication program another 60 days.
The program was scheduled for change on March 15. The change would have banned the use of Bute (phenybutazone) and limited the use of Lasix (flurosemide) to horses who are known bleeders four hours before a race.
The changes, considered by most to be reforms, have been set back several times since first proposed by the Maryland Racing Board in November.
The legislative group, the Administrative Executive and Legislative Review Committee, heard a plea by horsemen for an extension on Wednesday evening in Annapolis. Attorney Frank Defrancis argued that the horsemen should be given an opportunity to await the findings of a blue ribbon committee appointed by the National Association of Racing Commissioners. That 17-man committee will make known its findings next month. Its intent is to develop a national medication program acceptable to all parties.
The Maryland Racing Board meets on Monday and will have to accept or reject the recommendation of the AEIR.