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Best of Ohio Juvenile winner in Kentucky Derby

May 2, 1997

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Phantom On Tour won the Best of Ohio Juvenile last fall at Beulah Park. Is he good enough to run with the nation’s best in the Kentucky Derby?

``He’s been our Derby horse from Day 1,″ said Lu Ann Baker, who raised the colt in Grove City, Ohio. ``He was the most gorgeous individual _ right from the day he hit the ground.

``We’re just glad he got in hands that have got there before.″

Ray and Lu Ann Baker sold Phantom On Tour to Cal Partee of Hot Springs, Ark., for $375,000. Since then, Phantom won a couple of minor stakes at Calder and Oaklawn, and then the Rebel at Oaklawn.

``We raced him as a 2-year-old, then sold him for the right price _ not what he’s worth now, of course,″ Baker said.

The Bakers still keep 25-30 broodmares. They used to have operations in Ohio and Florida, but now have moved everything to Florida.

``We still have a few 2-year-olds, and we come back for the Best of Ohio,″ Baker said.

The Bakers didn’t plan to attend the Derby to see Phantom run.

``We’re not very good crowd people,″ Lu Ann said. ``If we still owned him, we’d be there. But we’re in breeding season; I’m going to have to be breeding mares on Derby Day.″

The forecast included some rain at Churchill Downs, which Baker says shouldn’t be a problem for Phantom.

``He won the Best of Ohio on a muddy track,″ she said. ``I don’t think an off track will bother him.″

Partee won the 1992 Derby with Lil E. Tee. Lynn Whiting trained Lil E. Tee, and trains Phantom. Whiting jokes that Phantom, with his blaze and four white legs, looks like a cowboy’s pony.

``He looks like Roy Rogers should be riding him,″ Whiting said.

It will be Jerry Bailey who is riding in the Derby. And that is a definite plus.

Bailey won the 1996 Kentucky Derby on Grindstone and the 1993 race on Sea Hero. He was third in 1994 on Blumin Affair and second in 1995 on Tejano Run.

``He moves the horse up,″ said Vic Mason, a spokesman for Beulah Park in suburban Columbus. ``If he’s as fit as he was in the Arkansas Derby, he’ll be right there.″

Phantom led the Arkansas Derby deep into the stretch before being caught by Crypto Star.