06/13/2012 11:37AM

Churchill Downs: Ramsey moves Homerun Berti up in class off claim


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The claiming game can be a touchy thing among owners, with egos bruised and misunderstandings apt to develop. Ken Ramsey has an endless number of stories in that regard, having experienced it all in more than 40 years in racing. One involves a claiming war he had years ago with Maggi Moss, and the moral of that story was that everyone lived to tell about it.

More recently, Ramsey claimed a 6-year-old gelding named Homerun Berti for $25,000 from Bert Klein and his family, and Ramsey said Klein took slight umbrage to it. Ramsey considers Klein a friend; they have lived in the same high-rise near Gulfstream Park in the winters, and their many years as prominent owners in Kentucky and elsewhere have put them in the same place at the same time on innumerable occasions.

“But I’ve always said that claiming horses is a game where you have to put friendships aside temporarily,” said Ramsey. “The way the game is set up, you pretty much have to. I sure didn’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings. This is just the way I play the game.”

Homerun Berti earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure in an easy win at Churchill Downs on May 10, the day Ramsey claimed him from the Kleins. In his first start back, Homerun Berti will be the horse to beat Friday in the $62,500 feature race at Churchill, a five-furlong turf allowance that carries a $50,000 claiming option.

Having long ago exhausted his second allowance condition, Homerun Berti is back in for the $50,000.

Homerun Berti, with Shaun Bridgmohan riding for trainer Mike Maker, was assigned post 2 in the third of 11 Friday races. Six others will oppose him, with City Cool and Devil Train being his chief threats.

One other allowance (race 10) is carded for much later Friday, when first post is 2:45 p.m. Eastern. It’s also a sprint, albeit on the main track, and it carries a first-level condition and a $59,800 purse. Bridgmohan may have the horse to beat in this one, too, with the gray filly Refugio, second in a similar race at seven furlongs in her last out for Dale Romans and the filly with the most consistent form among the field of seven.

With or without the paddock concerts that were held here several Fridays in May, late-arriving crowds have seemed the norm for these twilight cards. The third-race feature (3:48 post) may be the richer of the two, but the 10th race (7:24) surely will have more fans on hand to watch.