Oaklawn News

Eight was enough for trainer Reeve McGaughey.

McGaughey, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, recorded his first career victory in Thursday’s seventh race at Oaklawn with Franknjymme ($7.20). It was his eighth career starter.

McGaughey, 30, went out on his own at this year’s Oaklawn meeting after working under his father and uncle, trainer Charles LoPresti, best known for handling grass star Wise Dan, the country’s Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013. Shug McGaughey won an Eclipse Award as the country’s outstanding trainer in 1988 and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2004.

Franknjymme, who was ridden by Declan Cannon, was a three-quarter length winner of the first-level allowance race for older horses at 1 1/16 miles. Franknjymme had represented the trainer’s previous best finish – second, beaten 2 ½ lengths at the same level – Feb. 8.

“He’d been training well,” McGaughey said. “On paper, he looked like he had a pretty good opportunity. Everything kind of set up the way it looked like it was going to. He ran well.”

The victory was more special, McGaughey said because Franknjymme is owned by LoPresti.

“It’s nice,” McGaughey said. “He’s my uncle and I worked for him for five years. It all worked out well.”

McGaughey and his famous father talk daily. They really had something to talk about following Thursday’s seventh race.

“He was excited,” Reeve McGaughey said.

McGaughey has approximately 11 horses on the grounds, the bulk for Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony.

Southern Phantom Makes Much Anticipated Oaklawn Debut

He’s got the face. Now, he’ll try to win the race.

Media sensation Southern Phantom is scheduled to make his 2020 debut in Friday’s ninth race at Oaklawn, a maiden special weights event for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles.

Southern Phantom is winless in seven career starts, but the 4-year-old bay colt has still been one of the most photographed horses in the country since debuting in July 2018 at Saratoga because of his unique markings – bald face, blue left eye, long stockings on all four legs and a blonde-streaked tail.

Southern Phantom will be making his first start for trainer Federico Villafranco and owner Danny Caldwell after he purchased the son of 2012 Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister for $20,000 at Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale. Caldwell, Oaklawn’s leading owner in 2014-2017, said he had no idea about Southern Phantom’s colorful back story, adding agent Don Waits signed the ticket on his behalf.

“Honestly, when I looked at him (on paper), I was buying him for a racehorse,” Caldwell said Tuesday afternoon. “He walked into the ring and I saw that he was the colored-up horse, I looked at my wife, Allison, and said, ‘Well, we can’t afford this horse.’ I said, ‘He’s going to bring $50,000 to $100,000. I had already told my agent to bid up to $25,000.’ He got sold for $20,000 and I looked at her and I said, ‘There’s no way we got this horse bought.’ ”

Danny Caldwell said he was initially unaware of what happened because he didn’t have any contact with Waits immediately after the hammer dropped.

“I don’t hear from him for 15 minutes and kind of wondering,” Caldwell said. “He finally calls, and he said, ‘Sorry it took me long, I’ve never bought a $20,000 horse and done an interview right after that.’ He said, ‘I’ve bought a million-dollar horse once and got interviewed, but I’ve never got a $20,000 horse and got interviewed.’ ”

Southern Phantom has continued to generate plenty of social media buzz since joining Caldwell’s stable. Allison Caldwell provides updates on Southern Phantom through fan pages on Facebook and Twitter.

“He has a lot of fans and they want to keep up with him,” Danny Caldwell said. “We don’t want anything negative. We want what’s positive for racing. It’s a good opportunity to have a positive way to keep people interested in our sport.”

Southern Phantom made his first seven career starts – all in New York – for co-owners Calumet Farm and Southern Equine Stable LLC and trainer Eric Guillot. The colt ran fifth in his career debut (the winner Nitrous captured Oaklawn’s $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters last year) and third in his next start. Southern Phantom hasn’t started since finishing third in a 1 1/8-mile maiden specials weights race Feb. 2, 2019 at Aqueduct.

After buying Southern Phantom, Caldwell said the New York-based Guillot reached out to him and said the colt had been swimming and walking in advance of the sale after having a small ankle chip removed. Southern Phantom (12-1 on the morning line) has had seven published workouts at Oaklawn since Jan. 20.

“His first race, he’s going to need it,” Caldwell said. “I don’t expect him to win. We’re just trying to get him out and get him started. I expect the third race, if he races, will probably be his best race. Normally, that’s the way it goes when a horse has been off for a year. It takes them a couple of races to get back. We’re just going to let him get out and stretch his legs and go around the oval and see what happens.”

Caldwell said if Southern Phantom’s racing career doesn’t pan out, he’ll likely become a stallion.

Probable post time for Friday’s ninth race is 5:19 p.m. (Central).

Friday’s Feature

Friday’s featured eighth race is an allowance for older female sprinters, but it looks more like a stake. Among seven entrants are 9-5 favorite Mia Mischief, a multiple graded stakes winner of $1,083,834 for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, and Hotshot Anna, a multiple graded stakes winner of $972,190 for owner/trainer Hugh Robertson and his son, trainer Mac Robertson.

The 6-furlong race figures to be a prep for the Carousel Stakes, scheduled for April 11. Mac Robertson said multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Amy’s Challenge will probably make her next start in the Carousel. Amy’s Challenge had been under consideration for the $300,000 Madison Stakes (G1) April 4 before Keeneland canceled its spring meet because of the new virus, COVID-19.

Robertson said Hotshot Anna, a synthetic and turf specialist, could punch her ticket to the Carousel with a strong performance Friday. She had been entered in the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale before being withdrawn to continue racing.

“She just kept doing well, so we decided to keep running,” Robertson said. “Dad owns her and wanted to run her another year. We figured we would run her in here, then run her in a grass race at Keeneland. But now if she runs good, we’ll keep her here and run in the (Carousel).”

Hotshot Anna will be running on dirt for the first time since winning an allowance sprint May 19, 2018, at Canterbury Park.

Mia Mischief won Oaklawn’s $150,000 Purple Martin Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters in 2018 and will be making her first start since a sharp victory in the $120,000 Dream Supreme Stakes Nov. 1 at Churchill Downs. Four days later, Stonestreet Stables LLC purchased Mia Mischief for $2.4 million at Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale.

Also entered in Friday’s race are Oaklawn stakes winner Raintree Starlet ($100,000 Dixie Belle last year), the speedy Shanghai Tariff and Istan Council, who will be making her 4-year-old debut for trainer Larry Jones.

Probable post time is 4:51 p.m. (Central).

Finish Lines

British Idiom, the country’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2019, and Grade 3 winner Warrior’s Charge are on the grounds, Jorgito Abrego, assistant to trainer Brad Cox, said in a text message Thursday morning. Both horses had previously been based at Fair Grounds. Warrior’s Charge is pointing to the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses, scheduled for April 18. British Idiom is a candidate for the Fantasy Stakes (G3), scheduled for April 10. Warrior’s Charge returned to Fair Grounds after winning the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 17, a major local prep for the Oaklawn Handicap. … Second-division Fifth Season winner Pioneer Spirit will be pointed to the Oaklawn Mile for older horses, scheduled for April 11, trainer Robertino Diodoro said Tuesday morning. … Millionaire Bravazo will be pointed to the Oaklawn Handicap, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Sunday morning. … Dixie Belle winner Ring Leader will “probably” make her next start in the Purple Martin Stakes, trainer Mac Robertson said Tuesday morning. The 6-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies is scheduled for April 4. … Unbeaten Lexi On the Move is pointing for the Purple Martin, Diodoro said. … Wynn Time, who nearly beat Whitmore in the $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters in 2018, has been retired because of lingering physical problems, Robertson said Tuesday morning. Wynn Time was beaten a neck by Whitmore in the Hot Springs, then finished third, beaten three-quarters of a length by Whitmore, a month later in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). Wynn Time (8 for 12 overall) was a multiple stakes winner for breeder/owner John Mentz and Robertson, who trained the gelding with his father, Hugh Robertson. Mac Robertson said the plan is to make Wynn Time, a 6-year-old son of Three Hour Nap, a riding horse or pony. The Hot Springs is Oaklawn’s final major prep for the Count Fleet.