07/07/2005 11:00PM

Catienus altered Ramsey's focus


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Owner and breeder Ken Ramsey has had his share of downs in the past year, but, as he told the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club in Lexington last Tuesday, he will take the bad with the good in his favorite sport.

Early this year, the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority fined him $25,000 for offering to pay a rival owner $1,000 to scratch a horse from a race. This spring, his trainer, Dale Romans, was hit with a quarantine during a strangles outbreak.

But there have been highs, too. Roses in May gave Ramsey and his wife, Sarah, the Dubai World Cup this year and will train up to the Whitney, with the Breeders' Cup and Japan Cup as long-term goals. Ramsey sold a majority interest in Roses in May to undisclosed Japanese interests this year. In June, Ramsey's homebred maiden Nolan's Cat finished third in Afleet Alex's Belmont win. More recently, dual Grade 1 winner Kitten's Joy - another

homebred - won the Grade 2 Firecracker on July 4 at Churchill, and Ramsey is considering the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe for him this fall.

Ramsey also collected an Eclipse Award in January as last season's leading owner.

"We raise 'em tough, and they run tough," Ramsey told the audience in describing his program, which is based at his Ramsey Farm near Nicholasville, Ky.

Ramsey said that his stallion Catienus, whom he stood in New York this year, has drawn him more into commercial breeding.

When Catienus retired in 2000, Ramsey specifically bought a group of mares to breed to the Storm Cat horse.

"We bought mares with early speed that had won eight or 10 races, maybe older mares whose form had deteriorated and they could be claimed," Ramsey said, adding that he looked for "classical female families" for Catienus's mates. "We like stamina in the mares, like Silver Hawk and Roberto mares who've gone long on turf. And in the first three or four dams, we like to see one that's won or placed in a graded stakes or produced a graded stakes performer."

Ramsey also bought his own seven-horse van to shuttle mares from Kentucky to New York, where they reside for 90 days in order to qualify their foals as New York-breds under the state's lucrative breeder awards program.

But, Ramsey said, he will continue to sift through sale catalogs, too, with one goal in mind.

"At the September sale, I don't plan on buying fillies, sprinters, or turf horses," he said. "I'm only planning on buying horses that my advisers and I think can win the Kentucky Derby."

Ailment-related abortions decline

The Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center has distributed its statistics on mare abortion each week during foaling season since a catastrophic incidence of mare reproductive loss syndrome occurred throughout central Kentucky in 2001. The figures are based on the number of aborted fetuses the center receives for examination and provide an indication of the level of abortion in the central Kentucky mare population.

This year, there is good news for breeders as the effects of the mysterious ailment continue to wane. In its final tally for the 2005 foaling season, the diagnostic center reported on July 7 that it received 224 fetuses for examination between January and June. That's down from 270 last year.

The relatively low numbers serve to remind of how great the losses were in 2001 and 2002, when MRLS - whose exact cause has yet to be identified - ravaged the state's foal crop. The diagnostic center received 1,024 aborted fetuses between Dec. 30, 2000, and June 29, 2001, a number that declined but was still unusually high in 2002, when the diagnostic center reported 823 fetuses submitted.

Boundary pensioned

Boundary, sire of Irish champion 2-year-old Minardi and Grade 1 winner Pomeroy, has been retired at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., at the age of 15. A son of Danzig, Boundary has shown declining fertility, Claiborne spokesman Bernie Sams said.

According to Jockey Club statistics, Boundary covered 37 mares in 2004, the last year for which complete statistics are available.

Bred by Claiborne and William H. Perry's Gamely Corp., Boundary won 6 of his 8 starts in a racing career highlighted by victories in a pair of Grade 3 events, the A Phenomenon Stakes and Roseben Handicap, in 1994.

Boundary stood at Claiborne throughout his career, most recently carrying a $10,000 stud fee. He has sired 16 stakes winners so far. His other notable runners include Conserve, a dual Grade 2 winner, $523,000 earner Shake the Dice, and Japanese millionaire Saga Novel.