Southern Phantom, with his white face and blue eye, has yet to win a race in the United States, but his distinctive physical features led to a CNN feature on the two-year-old colt.
So, how did the son of Bodemeister turn out like he did, with such light skin pigmentation that trainer Eric Guillot says he requires sunscreen?
Rebecca Bellone, director of UC Davis’ Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, told CNN that “there is likely a mutation in one or more of the genes involved in pigmentation”.
Southern Phantom is officially listed as a bay, the most common colour for thoroughbreds.
“What is interesting to me as a geneticist is the fact that the horses in his pedigree do not display a lot of white face and leg markings,” Bellone added. “…I would love to know what the change or changes are in the DNA that caused his beautiful pattern.”
Beautiful to some, Southern Phantom has also been considered creepy to others, Guillot has said.
While the colt’s best finish in three maiden special weight starts at Saratoga was third, the trainer told CNN that “if he happens to win the right race, he’s going to be a phenomenal stud because he’ll get 100 mares just from the popularity of his market” – horseracingnation.com