Looking for Three Trophies
Ken Ramsey could end Thursday's closing-day card at Kentucky Downs with three trophies.
He has two primary goals: Win his fifth consecutive owners title and the Ramsey Farm Stakes, formerly the Ladies Marathon, renamed after his operation that's been so prominent at the track.
He has a good chance to do both. He leads all owners through the first four days of the meet and has numerous runners on Thursday; and Ramsey is running 2-1 favorite Kitten’s Roar and 6-1 second choice Daring Duchess in the Ramsey Stakes.
Ramsey also has 5-1 Kitten’s Cat in the co-featured Franklin-Simpson Stakes for 3-year-olds running seventh-eighths of a mile. Kitten’s Cat has been competitive of late but is seeking his first win since, wait for it, the Kitten's Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4. The race is named after Ramsey's prominent sire.
“I got to present the trophy down at Gulfstream Park for the Kitten’s Joy Stakes,” Ramsey said. “I presented the trophy to my wife. I don’t know if she’s coming (to Kentucky Downs) or not, but I’d like to make a little speech and transfer it from my left hand to the right hand.”
Ramsey, who campaigns horses with his wife Sarah, appears in good shape for that fifth straight owners title and in great shape to secure at least a tie. The Ramseys have a 3-2 edge over G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and GenStar Thoroughbreds heading into Thursday’s closing cay. Humphrey has two horses entered, but one requires a scratch to run. GenStar has one horse running.
With six victories from 35 starts, trainer Mike Maker is in control of his third straight Kentucky Downs crown, his six victories being three more than second-place holders Ian Wilkes and Bill Mott. Wilkes has five horses entered for Thursday and could make it interesting with a huge day. Mott only has one horse in for closing day.
Julien Leparoux, the 2014 Kentucky Downs riding leader, carries a 6-4 win cushion over two-time defending champ Florent Geroux and Jose Lezcano. Leparoux is in eight races on Thursday, while Geroux is in six races and needs defections by scratch time Wednesday morning to ride in a seventh. Lezcano isn't riding at the track Thursday.
Should Ramsey take the Ramsey Stakes, it would be a repeat. Last year, the Ramseys won the 1 5/16-mile Ladies Marathon with Al’s Gal, and in her next start she captured Woodbine's Grade I E.P. Taylor.
The 5-year-old Kitten’s Roar, a daughter of Kitten’s Joy, was a $130,000 purchase at Keeneland’s 2013 yearling sale. While he has the factory when it comes to breeding sons and daughters of Kitten’s Joy, Ramsey said he also buys other offspring to support those breeding to his stallion.
The late-running Kitten’s Roar, winner of the Marie Krantz Stakes at Fair Grounds, could earn the biggest win of her career. She’s run very well against some of the top turf mares in the country, beaten less than two lengths in the Grade I Beverly D won by Dacita and in Keeneland’s Grade I Jenny Wiley in which the amazing Lady Eli was second. Kitten’s Roar won a second-level allowance race at Kentucky Downs last year.
Daring Duchess was a $35,000 claim at Saratoga last year. Her two victories for the Ramseys and Maker have been a Belmont allowance race and Churchill Downs’ 1 1/2-mile Keertana two races back.
Daring Duchess appears the logical pacesetter, though Sister Blues also has been effective laying up close.
“But we don’t have her in there as a rabbit,” Ramsey said. “She’s good enough to win it herself. Either of my two could get it. These two complement each other. One will be going to the front or fairly close to the pace. The other will be laying mid-pack, covered up waiting for an opening. So we have a definite chance.”
And then there's Kitten’s Cat.
“I’m expecting him to run big in that race," Ramsey said. "And we got what I consider the top jockey in North America riding in Jose Ortiz. He cleaned house up at Saratoga for two years in a row, and we get him coming down here for this.”
Cox Live With Two
Sister Blues goes for her fourth straight victory in the Ramsey Farm, coming in off a small stakes at Louisiana Downs in her last start. Trainer Brad Cox has a second live contender in La Piba, who won the West Virginia Senate President’s Cup in her first start for Cox and owner Miller Racing after being purchased for $77,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s horses of racing age auction in July.
Lucky Seven Stable’s Sister Blues has won and been a close second in two starts at 1 3/8 mile, “so I don’t think distance should be an issue,” Cox said. “She doing well. It’s a solid group of fillies, so we’ll see.
“This is the first time La Piba has run that long, but her last race indicated that she could possibly get the distance. We’re looking forward to running her. She’s looking great.”
While Miller Racing hasn’t completely covered the purchase price on La Piba after one race, “she’s worth something as a broodmare,” Cox said. “She went from being stakes-placed to a stakes winner, so that increases her value. They’re kind of out on her.”
Cox said he never considered this past Saturday’s Grade III Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf at a mile for La Piba.
“We really didn’t want to run against Miss Temple City and that group,” he said. “Hopefully the added ground helps her. She acts like she can run that far. Ramsey and Maker are tough going long on the grass, so we’ll see what happens. Both these fillies belong, simple as that.”
Edited Kentucky Downs release with additional content by Dick Downey