Renown Virginia horseman and Hall of Fame caliber character, L. Clay Camp died at his home in Charlottesville, VA on Sunday night. Camp was 78.
The “L” was for Leon, but it might has well have been for “laughter” as Camp was certainly a legendary character among a group of Virginia breeders who made headlines (daiquiris, and lots of friends) at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale over some four decades while simultaneously being an upstanding member of the Possum Society of Virginia Tech.
Camp was born in Marion, South Carolina, on October 8, 1930. He was the younger son of Mr. William M. Camp and Mrs. Edith Clay Camp. He attended Woodberry Forest School, Hampden-Sydney College and the University of Virginia.
Camp learned the trade like many now prominent Virginia-horsemen by working with draft horses and show hunters. He would come to own Glenmore Farm and consign a record-priced Saratoga yearling in 1984 when agent Tom Cooper paid $4.6 million for a Northern Dancer-Bubbling colt later named Parlando.
The Kentucky-bred colt was a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Effervescing and bred by Camp’s Florida-based client Wild Oak Plantation of Howard Gilman. The colt was purchased by Tom Cooper of B.B.A. Ireland on behalf of Robert Sangster and partners. The colt is pictured below on the cover of the Blood-Horse with another renowned Virginia horseman Noel Twyman of Orange.
The record priced colt was sold on Thursday (then referred to as Virginia Night) as the sixth horse through the ring. The record price got a scare some seventeen yearlings later when fellow Virginia consignor, Peggy Augustus’ Keswick’s Stables, sold a Roberto colt out of Gurkhas Band to Darley Stud for $4 million.
It was a heady time for Virginians, as breeders and consignors from the Commonwealth sold three of the five top selling colts and seven of the eight highest priced fillies at that renewal of the famous Saratoga sale.
Camp and his wife, Barbara Pease Camp, who died last October, were married for 50 years. Together they operated Glenmore in Virginia and then in Lexington, Ky., before returning to Virginia in the 1990s.
Glenmore-bred stakes winners included three-time stakes winner Our Gatsby and 2001 Chapel of Dreams winner Smilin' N Blushing, both out of the Explodent mare Smilin' Sera.
Camp was active with the Virginia Thoroughbred Association serving on the board and as president on two occasions. He also served on the board of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Kentucky Horse Park. He was a founder of the Virginia Horse Council and a tireless advocate of the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, VA.
In addition, Camp served as a Director on a variety of Boards including the Atlantic Rural Exposition (now the Virginia State Fair), the Kentucky Horse Park, Bluegrass Tomorrow, the Lexington Triangle Park and served as a District Delegate to the Republican State Convention.
Additionally, he served as President of the Carrie S. Camp Foundation and was a past member of Farmington Country Club, the Keeneland Association, Glenmore Country Club and the Governor's Trade Commission.
Camp also was an accomplished carriage driver who competed in three World Four-in-Hand Driving Championships in England and Europe. In 1980, he competed as a member of the United States Equestrian Team.
Among Camp's survivors are his sons Jefferson and L. Clay Camp, Jr., and his daughters Carrie and June. He is also survived by his brother, well known Standard-bred breeder William M. Camp, Jr.
A graveside service is planned for 11 a.m. on Friday at the Poplar Springs Cemetery in Franklin, Va.
The family suggests donations to the TRF or the Virginia Horse Center in lieu of flowers.