04/20/2013 3:18PM

Kentucky owner-breeder Ramseys establish Keeneland wins record


After edging up on the mark on Friday, Kentucky owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey wasted no time in breaking the record for wins by an owner at a Keeneland Race Course meet Saturday afternoon, sending out Scealeile to win the first race of the day, a maiden claiming event for fillies and mares.

It was the 13th win of the meet for the Ramseys, who had shared the previous record of 12 wins at a meet with Calumet Farm, which established the mark in spring 1941, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Roberts, set in fall 1968.

“We don't want to set the bar too high, so the grandkids can have an opportunity to break it,” a jovial Ken Ramsey said in the winner’s circle following the record-breaking win. “Seventy-two years is a long time, but I think we should add a couple, three for insurance so someone doesn't sneak up on us.

“We've got some of these 2-year-old trainers clicking and clicking, and you just never know,” he said, referencing hot trainer Wesley Ward, who also trains for Ramsey.

The Ramseys moved within striking distance of the mark by winning two races on Friday. They sent out homebred Hollywood Talent to win a maiden special weight for 2-year-olds, and also captured an allowance event on the turf with Animal Style. Hollywood Talent was the first starter and first winner for freshman sire Talent Search, a homebred stakes winner for the Ramseys.

The Ramseys nearly completed their chase for the record on Friday in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes, but they were denied, finishing second by a neck and third with Sisterhood and Artemus Kitten, respectively.

The Ramseys are a virtual lock to capture their fourth title in the last five meets at Keeneland, and their third straight after sweeping last year's spring and fall meets. The outfit entered the Keeneland meet off a runaway win for the owner title at the Gulfstream Park meet that ended April 5. Scealeile, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Master Command, was among the runners they claimed at that meet. She is now trained by Mike Maker, and scored her first career victory under Joel Rosario, completing the seven furlongs on Polytrack in 1:28.10.

“How sweet it is, as Jackie Gleason would say,” Ramsey said. “I hope he wouldn't sue me over [saying] that...But I don't have to worry about Jackie, he's already pushing up daises. Maybe I'll be pushing up daises too before the record's broke.”

Many of the Ramseys' most high-profile runners are homebreds by their most famed horse, Kitten's Joy. The son of El Prado earned the Eclipse Award as 2004's champion turf male for a season in which he won six graded stakes races, including the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes and Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes. He also was runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Turf and the following year's Grade 1 Arlington Million.

Kitten's Joy retired with over $2 million in earnings and entered stud in 2006 at Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville, Ky. Among his top performers is Stephanie's Kitten, who carried the Ramseys' colors to victory in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. His current runners on the track include Blue Grass Stakes third-place finisher Charming Kitten, a likely starter in the Kentucky Derby on May 4. 

“I know he’s the lesser of what you might call Todd Pletcher’s ‘Fabulous Five,’ and I don’t think anything’s going to happen today [in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes] or the Derby Trial to knock us out,” Ramsey said about Charming Kitten’s Derby chances. “We’re 19th on the list now, but I noticed Mike Watchmaker and Jay Privman have us ranked number 13, so hey, we’ve got a shot!”

The Ramseys also campaigned successful stallion Catienus, who now stands at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Talent Search, a son of Catienus, moved to Ramsey Farm this season after beginning his stallion career at Diamond B Farm in Mohrsville, Pa.

Other notable horses bred by the Ramseys include Grade 1 winner Precious Kitten and stakes winner Justenuffheart, dam of champion Dreaming of Anna. Both mares are half-sisters to Kitten's Joy, out of the farm's foundation mare Kitten's First. The Ramseys also campaigned 2009 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Furthest Land, a former claimer, and Stephanie’s Kitten, winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The Ramseys, both natives of Artemus, Ky., won the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding owner in both 2004 and 2011. Ken Ramsey developed a passion for the horse business and dabbled in ownership during the 1970s and early 1980s before becoming involved in earnest after he sold his cellular telephone franchises for about $39 million in 1994. The Ramseys bought the historic Almahurst Farm property in 1994 and a year later renamed it Ramsey Farm; they have gradually expanded the property to over 1,200 acres.