Columbus, OH — While COVID-19 has halted harness racing throughout North America, many horses are still gearing up for their 2020 campaign.
For Southwind Amazon (Camluck-Artoonist), it has been business as usual for the gutsy gelding who became a millionaire at the beginning of the year. Trainer Paul Holzman says that his talented horse is ‘confused’ with no racing taking place as this is the first break he has had in four years.
After a slow start to his career, Southwind Amazon began to turn things around in 2015, his 5-year-old season, racing on the Ontario circuit. He banked $60,953 that year and won seven times in 27 starts.
Southwind Amazon was purchased for C$30,000 in February 2016 and wasted no time getting to work for trainer Paul Holzman. He quickly turned heads with a spine-tingling 1:49.2 performance just five starts after moving to his new connections.
“He was racing for a friend of mine at Rideau Carleton,” said Holzman. “When he started to get too good for the track, he called me up and asked me if I wanted to purchase him.”
For Southwind Amazon, racing has come as second nature, and he doesn’t take to training or jogging regularly. Before COVID-19, his longest break in racing was in 2016, a three-week break while traveling from Florida to Pennsylvania.
Holzman currently has him on a different schedule of training once a week to keep him fit and allowing him a good amount of paddock and ‘play’ time, which he enjoys.
Holzman attributes his breeding to the success of his career.
“Every Camluck I have owned are very rugged and willing racehorses and able to overcome anything,” he said, adding he has been impressed with Southwind Amazon’s toughness and versatility. “He always tries 110 percent, even if he isn’t 100 percent.”
Southwind Amazon has gotten the opportunity to take on some of harness racing’s greatest champions in Grand Circuit events. While he hasn’t always had the best racing luck, Holzman feels that he can compete with the upper echelon. Currently, his schedule focuses on the Open circuit of Scioto Downs and Northfield Park, but Holzman doesn’t count out attending some of the bigger events.
“The plan is to go week by week with him. I tend to go wherever he goes, and my ears are always open to race as long as it’s feasible.”
Northfield Park has been “home” for Southwind Amazon, having competed in Northeast Ohio in 98 of his 126 starts since 2017. He has become the hometown favorite as he competes against some of the best horses not only in Ohio but in North America.
“When you’re talking about horses that I consider ‘local’ or ‘Northfield regulars,’ Southwind Amazon is the best horse I have seen in my 29 years here,” said Dave Bianconi, Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting at MGM Northfield Park. “No horse has been as dominant as long in our top overnight classes as him.”
Holzman feels that Southwind Amazon has put him and owner, Ameer Najor, on the racing map.
“I’ve done a lot of great things at a smaller level, but it’s not been as fun as racing Amazon.”
At 10-years-old, Southwind Amazon is still at the top of the conditioned game in Ohio and the plan is to continue with him until his 14-year-old season. Holzman compared his success as an older pacer to the great Foiled Again.
“He’s no Foiled Again, but he (Southwind Amazon) feels like it to us. Foiled Again did it at a level that has never been heard of, he did it the hard way.”
As long as he is healthy, Southwind Amazon will keep on rolling.