05/29/2010 12:00AM

Inca King has a nose for the wire


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ken Ramsey calls Inca King "a win machine," and why not? The 6-year-old gelding acts as if he knows where the wire is, having won 14 of 31 career starts, including his last four for Ramsey and his wife, Sarah.

Ramsey claimed Inca King last fall for $40,000, and when the featured ninth of 10 races is run Sunday at Churchill Downs, the gelding will be in for an $80,000 tag when matched up with stakes-fringe opposition in one of those optional claiming/allowance races that have become so widespread in American racing. Inca King, a multiple stakes winner himself, may not be quite as fast as he once was, but his grit and back class surely will have him in the mix in the

1 1/16-mile turf race.

"I don't think anybody will take him," said Ramsey, who will be attending a family reunion Sunday. "If they do, that's fine, because we think he's worth right about the $80,000. We'd just take that money up to Monmouth Park and invest it there."

Like many other active claiming owners, Ramsey is excited about the new dynamic in place at Monmouth Park, where fattened purses have energized the game on many levels. "The first two days, we were in for six horses and got outshook on four," said Ramsey. "We're looking for our next Inca King."

Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker have taken advantage of the starter-allowance conditions for which Inca King has been eligible in recent months, as the gelding has dominated those lesser events. The Sunday race amounts to a class raise, but Ramsey has confidence in Inca King.

"He's pretty much done everything we've asked of him, and it's been a lot of fun to watch him do it," he said.

Inca King, with Robby Albarado to ride, will break from the outside post in a field of eight older runners. Another logical contender is No Inflation, whose two poor efforts this year stand in stark contrast to his terrific 2009 form.

Racing will be held here Memorial Day, so to make up for what usually is a dark Monday, Churchill will be dark Thursday.