The Joy of Kittens

“Winner’s circle; Ken Ramsey speaking.”

Ken Ramsey’s greeting on the phone shortly after Kitten Kaboodle’s victory in the Jessamine Stakes pretty much summed up the amazing run of victories he’s been on this year, especially the last four months.

It’s as if Disney has made a feline version of “1001 Dalmatians.” Racing has been literally overrun by kittens, (offspring of Kitten’s Joy that is), and you can expect to see as many as eight of them in the Breeders’ Cup alone.

What is even more amazing about Kitten’s Joy, in addition to being the No. 1 sire in earnings in America, the No. 1 turf sire, the No. 1 sire of grade I winners, the No. 1 sire of stakes winners, and the No. 1 sire of stakes horses, is the fact that his offspring all look alike and run alike, and as a genetic phenomenon, they all seem to be the same bay color, even though Kitten’s Joy was a chestnut.

Ramsey has kept the reason for that a mystery, saying it’s like the formula for Coca-Cola. And he’s not telling, other than to say he’s figured out what to breed to and what not to breed to, and what to put in the sale and what not to put in the sale. He is a firm believer that stallions, such as Tapit, will stamp their best horses with a particular color. In Kitten’s Joy’s case, that obviously is bay, despite the stallion’s own color.

Ramsey, through exhaustive research and the determination to do things his way, has created his own gene pool where offspring of Kitten’s Joy (a huge number of them major stakes horses) seem to be churned out off an assembly line. And he’s done it mostly with cheap to moderate-priced broodmares.

When Ramsey initially had trouble selling Kitten’s Joy as a stallion, he used the money he earned from winning the Dubai World Cup and bought an arsenal of mares from the sales ring and claiming races and built sort of his own Kitten’s Joy harem.

He hopes to put the stallion on display at this year’s Breeders’ Cup, and is optimistic he will make a major impact, and is planning on raising his stud fee to $100,000 next year. He admits he’s dreaming when he talks about possibly having multiple Breeders’ Cup winners, but says he’s put himself in position to get lucky again.

Ramsey has been leading owner this year at almost every track at which he’s competed with a string of horses – whether they’re trained by Chad Brown, Mike Maker, Wayne Catalano, or any of the other trainers he uses. He keeps a file folder on each of his trainers and maintains up-to-date past performances on each horse that he owns. After one of them runs, his secretary will pull the past performances the following day so he’ll know exactly what the Beyer speed figure was. Then he’ll call his guy at the Ragozin Sheets and get the Sheets number. He keeps all the condition books and will go over each horse with his trainers to decide where that horse should run next. He admits he’s very aggressive spotting his horses, and if one should get claimed, so be it.

“I don’t tell my trainers what to do or boss them around,” he said. “But I’ll put my two cents worth in.”

It is safe to say Ramsey is cut from a different cloth than other owners and breeders. He’ll   “suspend” a jockey, no matter who he or she is, for not following instructions (the Kitten’s Joys need to be ridden a certain way). He’ll take horses away from a trainer if they’re not in the kind of physical shape he feels they should be. And he’ll turn down grade I mares with impeccable pedigrees if he feels they don’t have the correct pedigree to match up with Kitten Joy. Yet he will claim a filly for $15,000 if she does match up with him, and often will get a Kitten’s Joy stakes winner out of her.

In dealing with jockeys, he said. “I’m not interested in excuses; I’m interested in performance. We’ll get somebody else to ride. I don’t have any problem getting jockeys to ride the Ramsey horses.”

Although it seems as if Ramsey breeds an army of mares to Kitten’s Joy every year, he says that’s not the case.

“I only bred 40 mares to Kitten’s Joy this year,” he said. “The most we ever we bred was 80 in his heyday. His only knock is that he didn’t have a yearling like War Front that brought $2 million at the sale. People never wanted to buy a Kitten’s Joy because they said ‘I’m not gonna buy that horse ‘cause Ramsey claimed the mare for $25,000 or $40,000 or $15,000.’

“But there was a method to the madness. We didn’t just go out and pick up any mare. We picked has-beens instead of never wases. But the gene pool is there. All the stuff clicks. If I can replicate the same pedigree with 20 mares and can put the same gene pool in there. there’ll be three or four of them of the 20 that will end up being graded stakes horses. The percentage is on my side getting the gene pool mix. When the sperm hits the egg that’s it, its decided. So I’m making damn sure that mixture is in most of the pedigrees that I breed to Kitten’s Joy.

“I’ve turned down grade I stakes mares. I’ve had the farm manager call me and say, ‘Mr. Ramsey, you must not have seen the pedigree.’ I said I have seen the pedigree and I don’t like the pedigree. I’m not interested in selling at the sale. I’m interested in breeding a racehorse, one that can run. So I’ll turn down a mare; I don’t want to waste a lot of sperm, because he’s busy breeding, sometimes three or  times a day and I don’t want the mare being brought back here three or four times.”

One of the biggest keys to Kitten’s Joy’s success is his conception rate, the life span of his sperm cells, and his demeanor and personality in the breeding shed.

“He has a 93% conception rate and his sperm lives four and five days,” Ramsey said. “It’s amazing for the sperm to live that long. So, if a mare comes in here and ovulates any time within that time frame, 93 out of 100 walk out pregnant. He’s very gentle in the breeding shed. He’s got a beautiful temperament, which is why you don’t see any of his horses raring up and acting crazy at the starting gate. They’re all even-tempered horses with that quick pace.

“The secret is, to win with these horses you have to bring them from off the pace. That’s why I make sure I put the right jockey on the right horse. I don’t care if they’re male or female or what their religion is – Jewish. Hindu, Muslim, or Catholic – I don’t care. And I don’t care what color they are. I’m looking for the right jockey to ride the right horse and ride like we want him to, and I don’t give a damn who he or she is. You can win an Eclipse Award as leading jockey, but if you don’t fit the horse you’re not gonna ride him.”

Of the 42 stakes winners Kitten’s Joy has had, Ramsey as bred and raised 39 of them on his farm.

“I have no city water for my horses here on this farm,” he said. “I experimented a few years back. I got two big tubs of city water, so the horses could smell the chlorine and all the other chemicals. I put it over beside Jessamine Creek, which runs through my farm, and I have a trough over there that has spring water – 57 degrees coming out of the side of the bank. I took 10 horses over there in a van and didn’t give them any water that morning.

“We loaded them up and took them over about 1 o’clock and turned them out in the field. These were all thirsty horses who hadn’t drank anything in four or five hours. They came to the city water first. They all sniffed it; one of them went over and started drinking out of the creek, and every one of the others went over and started drinking the 57-degree cold water coming out of the spring. So now I have spring water in nine of my fields, flowing by gravity from one field to the next. I have a 2,000-gallon holding tank that runs out of the spring and gives it enough pressure that it spouts out of each of the three troughs.”

As for Kitten’s Joy, he is treated like the king he is.

“We spent $300,000 on what we call Kitten’s Spa,” Ramsey said. “It’s an underwater treadmill, and we have the old boy in there five days a week. After that, we take him out and put him on a vibrating platform that increases the bone density.

Ramsey believes his success begins on the farm, an old Kentucky establishment dating back to the Revolutionary War where Exterminator was raised, as well as the immortal trotter Greyhound. The soil is abundant in potash and lime, and every spring, the University of Kentucky comes out and does a complete analysis of all the pastures to see if there are any deficiencies. If there are it is quickly rectified. So, the horses are assured of getting good nutrition and diets, and as a result they’re raised tough and they run tough.

“None of my horses are put up at night,” Ramsey said. “All of them run out in the cold, rain, and snow. The only time I put them up was when we had an ice storm several years ago. All these mares and babies and yearlings run out 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. You do not want to buy a horse at a sale that was sold as a weanling, then sold as a yearling, and now they’re trying to pinhook as a 2-year-old, because he’s spent so much time in a stall in the summertime when he should have been out there stretching his legs running and eating green grass and scuffling around with his 25 or 30 buddies in the field. Instead he’s standing in a stall not getting any exercise because the consignor does not want the sun to bleach his coat out. If he takes that horse to the sale with a bleached coat, the buyers don’t want that. They want that shiny thing, just like when you go to a jewelry store and they have those special spotlights shining on the diamonds, so it knocks your eye out every time it hits one of those points.

“Those are what I call hot house horses, with the toes all polished and the mane combed down, and his coat just glistening. And he’s on that extra fat diet when he’s too chubby to start with. I send my yearling down there and he doesn’t look nearly as good or nearly that fat, but at the end of the day, when you put them on the racetrack, the Kitten’s Joys are just as competitive as the horse who was hot-housed, and a lot of times is much more sound and durable. We hardly have any breakdowns with these Kitten’s Joys and it’s due to the way they were raised.

Ramsey, who once was a trainer himself, having won at River Downs, has had success with horses by other stallions, but the vast majority are by Kitten’s Joy, who is the king who reigns the Ramsey empire. That is his pride and joy, who he has taken from being a relatively unwanted stallion and elevated him to the top of the breeding world, where he has wreaked havoc on all those who originally turned him down.

As an example, Ramsey and trainer Chad Brown won the grade II Bowling Green Handicap Sept. 7 with the improving Hyper, a son of Victory Gallop. Although Hyper certainly belongs in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, having finished in the money in his last seven starts, Ramsey will pass the Breeders’ Cup, because he and Brown have two grade I-winning sons of Kitten’s Joy – Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution – already pointing for the Turf.

“If I’m gonna get a Kitten’s Joy beat in the Breeders’ Cup Turf it damn sure is not gonna be with one of my own horses,” he said. “So were running Hyper in the Canadian International. The only way he would go to the Breeders’ Cup is if something happened to both of the others.”

Despite Ramsey’s abundance of stakes victories, he could have had more. “We got beat three head bobs -- in the Virginia, Derby, the Joe Hirsch (Turf Classic), and the Jamaica,” Ramsey said. “That could have gone the other way, but, heck, we’re still winning enough of them anyway.”

Despite all the work and all the factors that go into it, Ramsey can sum up his success very simply: “To be honest with you, I’m good and I know I’m good. And that makes me very dangerous.”


Leave a Comment:


What a great story, what a yarn! Especially love the comments about how the Kitten's Joys' get raised; outside, tussling with their buddies. The Ramsey's know what they are doing and they are doing it right.

14 Oct 2013 5:07 PM

Very good story about owner/breeder/horseman, Ken Ramsey and his outstaning stallion Kittens Joy.  those "kittens" can't be ignored in the Breeders Cup turf races.

Kittens Joy is primarily a sire of turf horses therefore I wonder if Ken Ramsey has considered that he'll need to work out a different breeding strategy for success on the Triple Cron trail as it has been apparent that he passionately wants to win the Kentucky Derby.

14 Oct 2013 6:32 PM

I love the Kittens, we got to tour the Ramsey farm and get up close to the big guy. Jeff Ramsey gave us the tour and a nicer guy you'll never meet. He took his time with us, showed us the broodmare barns, all the new babes and of course let us hold Kitten's Joy by his halter, then he even took a photo of us for a keepsake-

14 Oct 2013 6:41 PM

Steve, you continuously come up with the freshest and most inspiring articles in the game. Way to go!

14 Oct 2013 7:39 PM
Paula Higgins

Boy, is he a character! Loved every word of this. He certainly knows his horses. I like his philosophy of letting them run and be horses while they are young. It makes perfect sense to not keep them under wraps and the end result is a tougher, sturdier horse. Smart. I think he is a little tough on the jockeys however. I am sure they don't want to lose either. After all, they make more money if they win. They have a very dangerous job and I think that deserves every consideration, including excuses if need be.

14 Oct 2013 8:30 PM

Thanks for the article Steve. To be honest I am sick of seeing Ramsey in the winners circle but after reading your article I appreciate what he's doing and he has it figured out. Who in recent years is winning and breeding like Ken Ramsey? NO ONE!!! Hats off to him because he's several steps ahead of anyone else. I am very pleased how he raises his horses and puts the horses needs first and foremost.

14 Oct 2013 8:42 PM

What a great story! He is doing it like Chenery did so many years ago. He studies the pedigrees disregarding the price tags and fads. I wish there were more like Mr. Ramsey.

14 Oct 2013 8:51 PM

Steve, while Mr Ramsey's success is impressive I find that I cannot root for him in any situation because of his statement in the BH article awhile back (see below).  His attitude absolutely disgusts me and is one of the things that I think is wrong with horse racing!  I am wondering why he is being written about again with still NO mention of the fact that he admits to "dumping" his horses that can't be "fixed".  A caring and responsible owner would retire and re-home those poor animals instead of knowingly subjecting them to more racing and who knows what from the next owner!

"When we claim one of these horses we go over them with a fine tooth comb.

“We pull the blood to see if they have potassium deficiency, iron deficiency. We x-ray everything, spend a few thousand dollars and find out what is wrong with them. Maybe he needs a little tieback and if it’s something we can fix, we fix it.

If we can’t fix it, we plunge them down at the lowest level and hope we’re not the last one to own them.”


14 Oct 2013 10:38 PM

I read somewhere that mares with Roberto in their dam's family is key.  I know of one particular Broodmare of the Year and one particular Horse of the Year that I'd just love to see mated to Kitten's Joy.  The first would be Vertigineux and the second is Zenyatta.  I drool at the thought of what those two could produce from a mating with Kitten's Joy.

On a similar line of what Ken Ramsey is doing with Kitten's Joy, I'd love to see a story on K One King.  Gunpowder Farms is buying him a harem in an attempt to perpetuate the Appalachee, Round Table, Princequillo male line.

Racing needs more Ramseys and Gunpowder Farms to strengthen up the breed and less of the "hot-house" raised horse we are seeing today.

Strawberries and tomatoes are grown in hothouses, not horses.

As always, thank you Steve for the wonderful write-up on Kitten's Joy

14 Oct 2013 11:44 PM
Lexington Bloodstock

You can be brilliant in the Thoroughbred horse business and still be marginalized by the "old hardboot" community.  Ken Ramsey is taking them all to school...and the answer is right under their noses.  He is not only a marvel, but, a breath of fresh air.  Don't think things are going to slow down for the Ramsey Stable any time soon.  His management of Kitten's Joy will go down in history.

15 Oct 2013 2:15 AM

Great article!! Do the Kittens continue to have fresh water when they go to the trainer?

15 Oct 2013 9:20 AM

How fascinating! Steve Haskin always takes us with him into the world of horseracing which is usually far away for us fans. But Steve takes us by the hand and lets us in.  And what an exciting world it is.

15 Oct 2013 10:47 AM
Old Timer

Nice article.

But Ramsey must buy a ton of cat litter! :-)

15 Oct 2013 12:11 PM

“To be honest with you, I’m good and I know I’m good. And that makes me very dangerous.”

Very profound quotes form a genuine thoroughbred lover. I have nothing but respect for Mr. Ramsey and wish him continued success. He reminds me of Usain Bolt.

I had a major wager on Charming Kitten in the Derby but is appears he did not make the transition to the muddy track as many turfers do.

“I’ve turned down grade I stakes mares. I’ve had the farm manager call me and say, ‘Mr. Ramsey, you must not have seen the pedigree.”

I have long lamented the fact that the philosophy of breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best is flawed. I have a list of mares that are G1 winning millionaires and they have produced very little in terms of stakes winners. They have been bred to some of the top stallions. Those matings invariably produce the right prices in the sale rings but not the desired performances on the track.

Mr. Ramsey appears to be very selective with the farm and outside mares that are sent to his stallion. Clearly the success of the Kittens Joy horses bears testament to his philosophy.

“He is a firm believer that stallions, such as Tapit, will stamp their best horses with a particular color. In Kitten’s Joy’s case, that obviously is bay, despite the stallion’s own color.”

The quote above is not dissimilar to the one I have made repeatedly regarding the best sons of Storm Cat. His best sons have been chestnut although he is Dark Bay/Brown. I have been ridiculed repeatedly for highlighting this observation.

Well, no one will dare ridicule Mr. Ramsey for his opinions on this issue.

There were no comments on the number of mares bred in a season. I fear that with KJ’s success he will be overbred and end up like so many good stallions that have suffered a similar faith.

Between 2006 and 2009 Kitten’s Joy bred an average of 116 per year. This total jumped to 173 in 2010. In 2011 it was down to 144 mares.

I hope Mr. Ramsey is just a meticulous regarding the usage of his stallion as he is regarding farm operation and mares.

15 Oct 2013 12:33 PM

Shows the power of "old school" breeding to race.

Letting the horses get plenty of calcium containing grass and water found in the Bluegrass region.

Letting the youngsters play and play and play and run and run freely in the fields so they can learn how to interact with other horses and run as a part of a group as well as becoming physically fit and developing strong bones the natural way.

Carefully picking mares for a particular stallion with thoughts as to what will happen on the track as opposed to what will happen in the sales.

Hope this might inspire other breeders to follow suite.

15 Oct 2013 1:10 PM
Arts and Letters

I wonder if Zenyatta fits into Ramsey's pedigree plans?  It would take a strong, strong man to turn down Zenyatta or her mother or sister.

15 Oct 2013 1:11 PM

Love the Kittens and love Mr Ramsey'

s common sense approach breeding, raising, training and racing. "Hot house horses" now that is term I have used often but never heard a Thoroughbred breeder use it. Luv it! Mr Ramsey, so wish more breeders had your approach. I totally agree with you. Horses should be in an environment as close to what is natural as possible. Thank you Steve. Another great article. My guess is that you did not have much of a chance to speak during the interview. LOL

15 Oct 2013 1:24 PM

The business needs more Ken Ramsey.You go Sir.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

15 Oct 2013 2:29 PM

I was hoping that Mr. Ramsey would bring Kitten's Joy to be seen at the Breeder's Cup.

I think that the winning numbers of this fabulous sire will inspire breeders from all over the globe to send their mares to him.

And what a terrific venue to showcase Kitten's Joy to international owners.

Mr. Ramsey is a very smart man and is an innovator in horse racing. Horses need to run to develop their muscle and bones and not be sitting in a stable.

Thanks for a wonderful article.

15 Oct 2013 4:06 PM

 I have followed “Kitten’s Joy” since he won the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs. However, it was his Hirsch Classic win at 12 furlongs that got me more interested in his offspring handling longer distances.  

 Moreover, and not so surprisingly, look for those of his offspring that are bred to ‘high rated’ mares to do well on turf up to 1 1/8. I don’t see many colts from this line yet however that look like 1 ¼ runners, thusly I don’t see,--in the immediate future anyway,--a “Kitten’s Joy’s” bred colt taking the Kty. Derby or the Belmont.

 Additionally, a horse player recently once turned to me and stated, “There surely seems to be a lot of 'Kitten’s Joy' breds out there the last few years.” And I had to remind him, “Well, here at Colonial this is perhaps one of the finest Turf Courses in the country without turns. It’s the perfect spot for Turf bred horses, and ‘Kitten’s Joy’s’ offspring surely fall into that category.”

  In looking over the “Kitten Joy” bred 2 yr. old horses out there so far this year, there should be quite a few that excel on turf up to 1 1/8 especially in the fillies ranks.  And, this is only my take.

  c. “Bobby’s Kitten”  d. “Crumbs of Comfort”; does however rank reasonably high up in my present 2nd tier, being where he took the Gr. III 1 1/16 (T) Pilgrim S.; Bel.;  1.42.37;

  However, those of his offspring that look even more intriguing, are from his daughter’s (from the filly’s) ranks.

 f.  “Beth Ann’s Kitten”  d. “Crumbs of Comfort”; thusly also looks promising, but hasn’t yet shown us what she might yet really be capable of, and yet remains high on my watch list in my 1st tier.

 f.  “Kitten Kaboodle”   d. “Easy Slam”; additionally ranks high and off her Gr. III 1 1/16 (T) JPM Jessamine S.; Keen.; win… 1:44.01; we are still keeping her on watch.

 f.  “Granny Mc’s Kitten”  d. “Granny Fanny”; winner of the 1 1/16 (T) P.G. Johnson S.; Sar.; 1.42.07; & that following her 2nd in her Msw 1 1/16 run in 1:43.68;  plus a nose;  ranks high in my second tier; and also remains ‘on watch’.

…and even

 f.  “Lien On Kitten”   d. “Mortgage the House”; at 2-     2-0-0  also remains high on my watch list, after her 1 Mi. Msw (T) win at AP; and then her follow up 7 fur. Kty Downs Fillies S.; KD; win …

  So his daughters are looking more interesting than his colts thus far, but we are keeping our eyes open in case one of the Ramsey’s many trainers are holding one or several of their chargers back waiting to further unleash the ‘kitten’s fury’.  

15 Oct 2013 8:13 PM

oops make that "Bobby's Kitten" d. "Celestial Woods"...

geeze you guys usually jump on my mistakes, [[but see... I really do follow and rate most all 2 year old runners... colts and fillies !!! & one colt rates at 477 and one fillie thus far rates out at 517 for those keeping track,,, where no Kitten Joy bred yet rates in the 400's for those really keeping score !! but we are still watching...]]

15 Oct 2013 8:21 PM
Paula Higgins

Racingfan, I agree with you about the dumping issue. I think this is what owners and trainers did in the old days and some still function this way. I think his feeling is that they do everything they can to fix the problem. But it is pretty clear that if they can't, they are done with the horse. This a huge problem in the public's perception of horse racing and needs to be addressed definitively. I will always admire Mary Lou Whitney for her efforts on their behalf to find them care after their racing careers. I really hope that the new people in the game will feel a moral responsibility to make sure horses that don't succeed on the track are given good homes.

15 Oct 2013 10:43 PM

Much as I hate to say it... The idea that a stallion stamps his best offspring with a certain colour is absolutely laughable. There's a reason why a large chunk of the top sire's good horses are chestnut, and that would be because both the sire and mare clearly carry the recessive gene for chestnut (I would suspect a large portion of the mares bred to any stallion are chestnut to begin with), and as such produce chestnut offspring. It doesn't matter if the foal carries the gene for bay as well, since it is a gene that cannot be expressed without the presence of a black base. I suspect that at least 75% of Kitten's Joy's offspring do carry the gene for bay as well, but simply do not express it. The same with Tapit and Storm Cat. I would suspect that more of Tapit's strong foals are grey simply because it is a completely dominant gene (i.e. grey goes over everything), and Storm Cat's were chestnut because you'd be hard pressed to find a mare that doesn't carry the gene for chestnut.

On the other hand, great article Steve!

16 Oct 2013 12:01 AM


"The idea that a stallion stamps his best offspring with a certain colour is absolutely laughable."

Since I was the one the mentioned the fact that Storm Cat's best sons are chestnuts, I feel obliged to respond to your post.

There was no reference to Storm Cat stamping his best offspring's with a certain color.

You will note I specified that it was an observation that his best sons are chestnut. I have not done any research to determine the reasons. However, I am not sure there is a research that would result in a definitive answer.

Based on the aforementioned observation, if I were in the market for Storm Cat offspring I would be more inclined to acquire a chestnut based purely on their historic performance records.

With that stated there are no guarantees as purchasing a unraced thoroughbred has equal risk irrespective of the color of its coat.

There was Storm Cat chestnut yearling acquired for $6M by the same folks that acquired the brilliant Storm Cat chestnut, Giant's Causeway. He turned out to be a flop.

No one would be so naïve to think that any stallion is capable stamping his best offspring with a particular color. An observation advanced is just that. This is quite different from a conviction or factual declaration.

16 Oct 2013 4:56 AM


Re a horse’s skin color.

Thank you for the light you have shed on the subject.

It is all in Wikipedia for anyone who wishes to study the facts about the colors of horses. I never wanted to be the one to bring it up.


16 Oct 2013 10:40 AM


Would you be kind enough to name the colt, you rated 477 and filly you rated 517?

Kentucky Derby/Oaks watch 2014 has begun ...Honor Code and Cleburn in the colts division and Artemis Agrotera and Untapable in the fillies division are atop my watch list.

16 Oct 2013 1:36 PM

I'd agree with Anglachel although there is a possible way Color & racing talent could be linked. That way is if the color gene(s) are close on the same chromosome to a gene important for endurance, or precocity, or early speed. Then when recombination occurs during sperm formation they'd stay together. (The Y chromosome doesn't recombine but racing talent is certainly not male-linked!) Few of the genes important for racing success are known and it surely takes several so it's not likely.

16 Oct 2013 1:53 PM
lunar spook

I just gained new respect for MR. RAMSEY letting his horses run free instead of being cooped up all day is great , wish more owners and trainers were like him , ill be pulling for his stable come B.C. TIME!!

16 Oct 2013 3:28 PM

Ranagulzion ,

Cleburne over Ride On Curlin?

Although Cleburne defeated ROC in the Iroquois it should be noted that Cleburne had previously won at a mile. ROC entered the Iroquois off a 5 1/2F MSW victory.

16 Oct 2013 7:43 PM

I like the part where he tested the horses to see which water they like and then went ahead and provided it to them in a big way.  I've never heard of anything like that.  It's also amazing KJ's conception numbers, talk about a stud.

I'm kind of torn about RacingFan's post, annunciation is lost on prints, so it's kind of hard to see whether he was saying it with malice or in a "we tried and we give up" kind of demeanor.  It may mean he wanted someone else to own the horse to try their way to see if they can make the horse competitive, just because the horse won't run or win with him, doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad horse.  I don't know much about him before this article, for the most part, this article presented him as an honest businessman, and by honest, I mean he doesn't hide that his goal is both guided by the personal and the business side of things, it's very rare that you hear that from an owner.  Most of the time, they talk about how important the horse is to them, that it's the best thing that's ever happened to them, the horse brought so much emotions....then 2 months later, the horse is on its way overseas...

16 Oct 2013 10:24 PM


As a valued colleague I am going to share some cold facts with you  about the likely Breeder Cup Juvenile winner who is normally the winter book favorite for the Derby.

Sacher Mine: Mineshaft-Pulsatilla by Gone West - Mr. P ($1.5M)

Nehro: Mineshaft-The Administrator by Afleet - Mr. P ($900K)

Cool Coal Man: Mineshaft-Coral Sea by Rubaino- Fappiano - Mr. P ($900K)

Miss Loretta Lynn: Mineshaft-Miss What A Day by Miswaki - Mr.P (Winner on debut)

BOND HOLDER: Mineshaft-Cielo Girl by Conquistador Cielo - Mr.P(Won the ForeRunner,G1 8.5F)

Sire and dam sire were both HOY. The cross has proven productive as cited in example above. Longer is better. Has Mineshaft's running style and will catch the speedster in The BCJ at a big price.

17 Oct 2013 12:01 AM

JayJay - it is clear that Mr Ramsey is a good businessman and really puts thought into his breeding efforts.  It also appears that he looks out for the best interests of his stakes winners and homebreds.  It's the horses he claims that concerns me.  If anyone claims a horse and discovers it has problems that cannot be fixed, to me it is beyond irresponsible to just drop that horse back in a low level claimer and hope someone claims it so now it becomes their problem!  In his own words that is what he stated that he does.  That should not even be permitted to happen!  Then maybe some of these low level horses wouldn't be out there breaking down when they could have been enjoying life in another career.

17 Oct 2013 9:16 AM
Pedigree Ann

Color inheritance is pretty clear. A chestnut must get the recessive gene from both parents, not the dominant bay gene, or it cannot be chestnut. If a horse gets a bay gene, it will be expressed in preference to the chestnut one.

If you breed a chestnut to a chestnut, you must get a chestnut. The Suffolk Punch is a breed that is purely and completely chestnut and will always be so, unless a non-stud-book animal is incorporated.

The greying gene, on the other hand, is dominant over 'not grey', so even after many generations of breeding greys to greys and getting more greys, the 'not grey' gene can be lurking in the genome. The Lipazzaners of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna are such a breed and every once and a while a foal comes out bay - it is considered lucky for the School to have one.

17 Oct 2013 9:36 AM

Mr. Haskin,

I just watched 'And Theyr'e Off - The Harvest Edition and you recommended that Tap It Rich MSW victory was a must watch. Well, I reviewer the video and his performance was impressive but not exceptional. The colt that chased him hoe was making his 3rd start and had been beaten by better previously.

Tap It Rich is an imposing colt. However, I did not particularly like his stride pattern in the last 2F of his race as he appeared to be lumbering home instead of striding out effortlessly.

I do believe the MSW victory by Cleburne although on grass was far more impressive. The acceleration he showed while switching leads was ultra-impressive. His rider had to beg him to pull up.

I like Bond Holder from CA. The 1:38.28 Mile split recorded in the (G1) ForeRunner is not encouraging when compared to TIR’s 1:36 for his mile. He appeared to be struggling with the track you advised was much deeper due to addition of sand.

He is a much better more than TIR and I would take a good Mineshaft over a good Tapit any day.

17 Oct 2013 11:29 AM
Abigail Anderson

I just loved this look into the Ramsey's breeding practice and the insights into how he has ended up with a virtual assembly-line of winners fascinates, since it seems to fly in the face of what other breeders are doing. By which I mean it gives me a renewed faith in the power of research. Ramsey's orientation reminds me of E.P. Taylor and Northern Dancer, right down to the habit of raising the babies as naturally as possible. E.P. had his youngsters out in the Canadian winter snows and I read that Vincent O'Brien credited this kind of practice with raising a colt as solid (nerves aside) as Nijinsky, The Minstrel and others. Great read, Steve. Thank you.

17 Oct 2013 11:47 AM
Brian Russell

Racingfan:  You seem to be obsessed with what is completely a non-issue.  I have known Mr. Ramsey for over 15 years and have closely followed his runners.  I can't recall even ONE fatality in a race.  With his massive numbers you would think he would have had several simply due to the law of averages, but he has not.

17 Oct 2013 12:18 PM

RacingFan : I'm not saying you're wrong or anything, I'm just saying that a horse that can't win under his care does not mean the horse is a bad horse or can never win.  It's quite possible he has set a high bar as far how he views horses.  I don't necessarily agree that just because Mr. Ramsey himself "dumped" a horse that it should be retired because other trainers might find a way to get them to win.  I would be worried what happens to the horses that he drops to lowest level and doesn't get claimed because at that point, Mr. Ramsey already knows it's not a horse that meets his requirement.

17 Oct 2013 11:29 PM

Coldfacts 17 Oct 2013 12:01 AM

Thanks.  I'll be watching.

I like the undefeated Cleburne a lot for the BC Juvenile. The Dixie Union/ Mr Prospector cross, enhanced by the presence of Northern Dancer plus Seattle Slew over Something Royal in the Dam's pedigree, looks like classic breeding, similar to Union Rags. His trainer Dale Romans is one never to be ignored. Cleburne was my fancy in the Iroquois at long odds (didn't post it) and I'm sticking with him. Also I don't think that it is wise to rule out D Wayne Lukas's Strong Mandate as 2YOs can be very unpredictable.

Ride On Curlin is a good colt but he seems to be alwys finding one or two better ...I don't like the trajectory of that trait ...bridesmad type.  

18 Oct 2013 12:32 AM
Age of Reason

I never thought I'd say these words, but I actually agree with Coldfacts on something. Bond Holder, to be exact. I've been following the guy since his debut (he's never run a bad race), and absolutely adore his Triple Crown prospects. Boy, can you imagine what a screamer the final furlong of next year's Derby might be if both he and Honor Code...? But let's not even go there. The last horse I touted like that was Take Control, less than a week ago, and I am crushed by the new of his incredibly heartbreaking and untimely end. I haven't felt grief like this since Barbaro. Rest in peace, you beautiful son of Azeri!

18 Oct 2013 10:32 AM

Ride On Curlin  set a NTR for 5.5F at Ellis Park.

How does one explain the fact that he was 2nd to last in the 1st 4F of the Champagnes.

Do not forget that Storm Cat mares gave us Dialed In and Bodermiester.

Are you aware that his owner refused $1M for him after his track record setting performance?

Strong Mandate's dam died 11 day s after he was foaled. He is therefore not a horse that I would be focused on long term.

Why am I not surprised that you are high on Cleburne? You are still under the Union rags syndrome.

I think his stable mate Smart Cover is the better of the two. He was produced from a Smart Strike mare. It was a Smart Strike mare that produced Derby winner Mine That Bird. Distorted Humor has no real record as a classic broodmare sire.

18 Oct 2013 10:43 AM
Love 'em all

One might want to add:  Strong Mandate was foaled Feb. 8, 2011, the date of his dam's 19th birthday.  It was reported he was a healthy colt.  Wish him the best!

19 Oct 2013 12:51 PM

It's an interesting observation that some stallions tend to stamp a lot of their offspring with a particular color shade or markings: Storm Cat produced many foals (Raging Fever, After Market, Desert Stormer come immediately to mind) with his signature dark bay color and white facial markings; Giant's Causeway seems to produce more than his fair share of horses with unusual facial markings similar to his own (the most striking example being My Typhoon); and to me the most noticeable is Candy Ride, who must have a particular recessive chestnut gene responsible for the great number of his offspring with the distinctive (usually unmarked) orange chestnut coat where mane and tail color unusually match coat color (Sidney's Candy, Home Sweet Aspen, Evita Argentina, Misremembered, Clubhouse Ride to name the stars).

But the idea that Kitten's Joy is in any way responsible for the bay color of his offspring is simply untrue, for the reasons mentioned by other commenters. Chestnut is a recessive gene, of which KJ has two; the ONLY base color gene he can pass on to any of his offspring is chestnut. It is possible that he has certain color modulatory genes (such as whatever is responsible for the distinctive "Candy Ride" chestnut) that act on bay to produce a certain shade or patterning, but it is just as possible (and probably more likely) that the real reason many of these offspring share similar coloration is the one Ramsey brings up himself: "If I can replicate the same pedigree with 20 mares and can put the same gene pool in there, there’ll be three or four of them of the 20 that will end up being graded stakes horses. The percentage is on my side getting the gene pool mix. When the sperm hits the egg that’s it, its decided. So I’m making damn sure that mixture is in most of the pedigrees that I breed to Kitten’s Joy."

When many of the mares share similar genetics, you're going to see a lot of similar color genes. In this case, the dominant BAY color genes shared by the majority of thoroughbreds.

On that last point, if I had a Grand Slam mare to breed I would be knocking Ramsey's barn door down. Three major GSWs this year (Admiral Kitten, Kitten's Dumplings, Kitten Kaboodle) come from that cross. And as someone else already mentioned, many of his stakes winners are closely inbred to Roberto. Zenyatta would indeed be a mouthwatering match.

28 Oct 2013 12:19 PM

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