By Frank Angst
LEXINGTON, Ky (April 26, 2013)
While Ken Ramsey has reached racing’s heights, including a victory in the 2005 Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) with Roses in May and on April 25 joining a club of just 18 owners who have earned a gold tray from Keeneland for at least eight graded stakes wins at the Lexington track, the Thoroughbred owner says he will never abandon claiming races.
Accepting the gold tray - Keeneland/Coady Photography
While some owners start out with a stable of claiming horses and leave that behind as they build their racing stable, Ramsey still gets a kick out of winning races, regardless of the level. Also, he loves the thrill of seeing his trainers improve a horse.
“It’s the competition, it’s fun, and we show a profit with it,” Ramsey said of the claiming game. “I have a real good trainer (Mike Maker, who set a record for wins by a trainer at a Keeneland meet this spring with 25) and we claim one of these horses and we go over them with a fine tooth comb.
“We pull the blood 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.”
The Ramseys won races at all levels in setting a record for victories at a Keeneland meet, where they finished with 25 victories.
Appropriately enough, Dark Cove, a horse Ramsey claimed for $50,000 at last year’s spring meet, won the $150,000 Elkhorn Stakes (gr. II) Friday, April 26. Not all of those claimers stay at the claiming level.
The Ramsey Family escorts Dark Cove to the Winner's Circle - Keeneland/Coady Photography
“We’ve been very fortunate, Mike knows what he’s doing and I do my homework on the pedigree and analysis and find out who is running on the wrong surface or wrong distance and I’ve been at the game a long time,” Ramsey said. “I guess you could say I’m good and I know I’m good and that makes me very dangerous.”
Sarah Ramsey in Stable Condition: Ken Ramsey wife and Thoroughbred ownership partner Sarah was hospitalized Thursday, April 25. He said the hospitalization is from complications from the stroke she suffered in 2007.
“She’s at (University of Kentucky) Hospital. She’ll be over there about 3 or 4 days,” Ramsey said Friday, April 26. “It is serious but it’s not serious. If I thought something was going to happen, I wouldn’t be out here.”
He hopes Sarah is able to join him May 4 at Churchill Downs to watch their homebred Charming Kitten start in this year’s Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Ramsey arrived late at Keeneland Friday—only after receiving blessing from Sarah—left the track after his entry of Live in Joy and Let’s Do It ran one-two in the third race to return to the hospital; and then was back at Keeneland for the Elkhorn Stakes (gr. II) to see Dark Cove win.
“She said go on, go on,” Ramsey said, noting that he should be there if they were to earn the gold tray.
Records Fall: The Ramseys were not the only connections to set records at Keeneland this spring. Trainer Mike Maker found the winner’s circle a record 25 times, and jockey Joel Rosario set a spring meet record of 38 victories. Maker trained 20 of the Ramseys’ winners and Rosario rode 18 of the Ramseys’ winners.
Riding full-time at Keeneland for the first time, Rosario said his confidence built with early victories at the meet and the momentum continued to build.
Ken Ramsey with Joel Rosario - Keeneland/Coady Photography
“It’s meant a lot to me and it’s been nice to be here,” Rosario said. “I think the owners and trainers that have supported me and the fans have been great. I’ve tried to enjoy every race.”
Rosario will ride Derby week at Churchill Downs then head to Belmont Park.
Horses who reached the winner’s circle twice at the meet include Alto Racing’s Winning Cause, Awesome Flower, and Kingsford Drive. Winning Cause, by Giant’s Causeway, improved to 3-for-3 at Keeneland after winning an April 6 allowance race as a prep for his one-length score in the April 20 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III). Trained by Todd Pletcher, Winning Cause won his maiden race at the 2012 Keeneland fall meet.
The earnings leaders at the meet were the Ramseys, jockey Julien Leparoux, and trainer Ken McPeek.
Send-off for Balog: The update chalk board in the Keeneland pressbox listed conditions as “Fast/Firm … Balog!” in honor of Julie Balog’s final day as director of communications.
Balog received a big sendoff in the morning at a breakfast attended by many Keeneland employees and media throughout the day wished her well in her new position as vice president of marketing and communications for the YMCA of Central Kentucky.
Like the best communications directors, Balog put reporters in position to succeed.
Lisa’s next: Enchanting Lisa, an unraced 3-year-old War Chant filly out of broodmare of the year Lisa Danielle, breezed four furlongs in :50 2/5 Friday on the Keeneland Polytrack. Enchanting Lisa is a half sister to Horse of the Year Wise Dan and two-time grade II winner Successful Dan.
In the black: On a personal note, in my first try at public handicapping for an entire meet, I met my goal of finishing in the black with a $2.09 ROI for the meet. The Ramseys’ Tuscan Treasure sent me out on a good note as I selected that final-race winner who returned $14.60.
Keeneland listed my Blood-Horse picks under the expert picks section of its simulcast presentation. It’s not a huge profit but there is some satisfaction in finishing in the black.
I have to say kudos to the handicappers who do this every day—especially if they have another job. I’m a little tired and looking forward to concentrating on a few races.
I understand a big one is coming up in Louisville.