Southern Phantom 'knows what his job is,' and for now it's racing

January 17, 2020 10:37am
Southern Phantom 'knows what his job is,' and for now it's racing
Photo: Courtesy of the NYRA
Southern Phantom, the white-faced colt with a blue left eye, has taken his flashy looks to Oaklawn Park -- and new connections say he’s loving it while training toward a 4-year-old season.

Via agent Don Waits, the son of Bodemeister went for $20,000 to one of Remington Park’s top owners, Danny Caldwell, at the Keeneland November sale. He’s now back to work in Hot Springs, Ark., in the care of trainer Federico Villafranco. “I’m pointing him toward the end of February, but in may be into March,” Caldwell said of a return to the races. “He’ll tell us when he’s ready. We’re going to give him time, and aren’t going to push him. “He’s got a second or third career down the road so we’re not going to take any chances.”
Still a maiden, Southern Phantom has hit the board twice in seven career starts, finishing third back in August of 2018 as a 2-year-old at Saratoga and third again in February of 2019 in what was his most-recent start at Aqueduct. Southern Phantom was next seen in the Keeneland auction ring, where he drew plenty of attention despite a modest purchase price. “They plucked a little chip out of one ankle last year and it was a real easy surgery is what they told me,” Caldwell said. “He has no repercussions.” Southern Phantom has worked twice in the new year at Oaklawn, breezing three furlongs on Jan. 4 in 38.40 seconds before following with a half-mile in 51.20 seconds on Monday. “We don’t ever work them fast,” Caldwell said. “My philosophy is, ‘Let’s wait and leave that for the race.’ We don’t go out and have bullet works. Plus, he’s a closer. He’s a distance horse, and the farther he goes, it looks like the better he likes it. “He does need to get a little bit of more stamina because he does run a long distance.”
A social media sensation thanks to his unconventional appearance, Southern Phantom stayed in shape by swimming through his rehab from surgery. Eric Guillot, the former trainer of record for the colt, “was really nice,” Caldwell said, “telling me about his little quirks and what he’s done with him. He wants the horse to be successful, and that’s important.” As for Southern Phantom’s “second or third career,” his looks would make him a desired competitor in an event such as the Retired Racehorse Project. Caldwell also already stands one stallion, stakes winner Da Stoops, in Oklahoma. “The cowboys will love him in Oklahoma,” Waits had said after the gavel fell at Keeneland, with paint horses popular in the state. In the meantime, Southern Phantom’s thriving at Oaklawn. “He loves to go to the track. He loves to go out to play. He knows what his job is and he loves it,” Caldwell said. “You take him outside and he’s looking at the track. He wants to go to the track."


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