The spread in weights for today's John B. Campbell Handicap at Bowie is only 11 pounds--from Recusant at 119 to 108 for Gerontas, Incubator and Boston Tea.
The small spread reflects the view of Larry Abbundi, Bowie track handicapper, that there is not much difference in ability among the 15 contestants. Accipiter's Hope, at 114, is the biggest money winner, with a total of $413,352. He is ready to run his best race and has the capable Frank Lovato Jr. as his rider.
Recusant is the second-biggest money winner at $379,503, most of which was earned last year in the Midwest. The son of His Majesty, like Accipiter's Hope, has been primed for the Campbell with several sharp tuneups and should be ready to run a fine race. Recusant will be ridden by Jorge Velasquez, one of the sport's top jockeys.
Blackie Daw, trained by King T. Leatherbury, is another capable horse who has been sharpened to run his best today. He ran in a sprint last month and had an impressive public workout last week. He will be ridden by Bill Passmore, who will make up most of the 118 pounds the horse will carry.
Hail Emperor was purchased more than a year ago by Frank DeFrancis, owner of Freestate Raceway. Since then, the beautifully bred son of Graustark from the Bold Ruler mare Queen Empress has put together an impressive record, winning four of four. He will carry 115 and will be ridden by Vince Bracciale, an outstanding money rider.
Appeal Approved, the youngest of the contenders at 4 years of age, has been nicely developed by trainer Dean Gaudet. He will carry 117 pounds and will be ridden by Jim Edwards.
Boston Tea, a 5-year-old gelding so capable that he won three added-money events with three different apprentice riders, will be ridden by apprentice Lisa Ruch. The son of Roanoke Island was entered in a sale and was bought back when the highest bid was only $15,000. He has been raced into condition by veteran trainer Glenn Ballenger and should finish on the board.
The choice here is Luxuriant Man, another lightly raced veteran that appears to be coming up to his best race. Luxuriant Man, a son of Circle Home, has had an operation on his knee. He will carry 112 and should be tough, with capable South African Dave Byrnes the rider.
By post time, the track should be fast enough for a 2:04-plus clocking in what should be one of the most competitive Campbells in years.