Beloved TRF retiree Phantom on Tour, who for eight years, starred as a living exhibit at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, was euthanized on January 29 at the age of 24. He had suffered from complications caused by Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM), a neurological disease that he was first diagnosed with in 2006.
“Phantom was always liked by every inmate that came into the Second Chances program; everyone always wanted to see the horse that had run in the Kentucky Derby,” said Linda Dyer, farm manager.
“I would show them his race with everybody commenting on what a good race horse he was. It helped show them what these retired race horses are capable of as athletes.”
“We kept him down at the barn in his own paddock and stall, so he led a very spoiled life. He loved to be groomed every day. His favorite thing to do was to rub his head on you. The inmates would sneak him so many mints I had to warn them about giving him too many.” Phantom on Tour’s bloodlines included Triple Crown winner Secretariat (1973), as well as Kentucky Derby winners Northern Dancer (1964) and Reigh Count (1928). He finished sixth to Silver Charm in the 1997 Kentucky Derby, and he earned $724,065 in a career that included victories in the Rebel Stakes, the Florida Stallion Stakes and the New Orleans Handicap.
Sent to stud in 1998, Phantom on Tour proved to be infertile, he was then gelded and returned to racing. After three starts, a group of caring fans purchased him in 2001. The TRF was honored to provide a safe haven at TRF’s Second Chances Farm at Blackburn Correctional Facility in Lexington, KY.
For a `Phantom,’ he proved to be incredibly visible. In March of 2002, Phantom on Tour, on loan from the TRF, arrived at the Kentucky Derby Museum where he spent the next nine years. While there he served as an ambassador where he met thousands of fans and was a consummate educator on the life of a racehorse and Museum’s history.
“Phantom was super personable and super cool,” said Alison Knight, Equine Manager at the Kentucky Derby Museum. “I used to walk him down the sidewalk and right up to the Kentucky Derby Museum’s front doors. He was a great ambassador for retired Thoroughbreds. Our guests loved getting to see him up close and to interact with such a great horse. He was one of my favorite resident Thoroughbreds here at the Museum.”
Phantom on Tour shared his time at the Derby Museum with a full-sized size miniature horse, Winston, and vacationed annually at Upson Downs Farm. While on vacation, Phantom on Tour was replaced by Perfect Drift, who finished third in the 2002 Kentucky Derby. Currently, the resident Thoroughbred at the Derby Museum is 10-year-old Populist Politics. Winston, who was foaled May 4, 1993, still resides and works at the Museum.
Phantom on Tour retired from the Derby Museum on October 21, 2010 and returned to TRF’s Blackburn farm, where he helped teach inmates equine care as part of TRF’s Second Chances vocational program.
“He was really an icon for our farm here,” Dyer said. “He was quite a character and sweet as pie when a visitor came into the barn because he knew they usually had carrots or mints.”
“He was a classy guy and a really good race horse. He helped make many a horseman here at our Second Chances Program. The 18 men have already commented on how empty the barn feels without him.”
This is a racehorse who had many careers and touched the lives of so many people along the way.
He will be missed.