09/12/2005 11:00PM

Ramsey intends to run horses at Turfway

Sheikh Mohammed and his wife, Princess Haya bint Al Hussain, at the sale.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Ken Ramsey, the Kentucky owner, said Tuesday that he plans to enter horses at Turfway Park beginning Friday, ending an informal boycott of the track's entry box since last Wednesday, when new medication rules went into effect in the state.

Ramsey, whose horses are trained by Dale Romans and based in Louisville, said he decided to enter after Romans assured him that the state would work with horsemen to massage the new rules before they are made permanent. Many Louisville trainers, including Romans, refused to enter horses at Turfway last week after complaining that the rules were confusing and did not provide trainers with guidelines on how to administer therapeutic medication to horses.

Ramsey said that he had not yet read the rules, but that he was also personally concerned about penalties that would prohibit a horse from racing if the horse tests positive for certain performance-enhancing drugs. The rules would allow stewards to suspend a horse if it tests positive twice within a year for a Class B drug - one that has the potential to be performance-enhancing but can also be used for therapeutic purposes, but not on race day - while under the care of the same trainer.

"That's my biggest concern, but I've been told that they are going to work these things out, so we're ready to go on Friday," Ramsey said.

Prospect of slots yet to affect prices

Slot machines are on the horizon in New York and Pennsylvania, promising average daily purses of at least $500,000 a day at the tracks of the New York Racing Association and Philadelphia Park, possibly as early as 2007. With that in mind, are yearling buyers who race in New York paying a premium for racing stock at the Keeneland September yearling sale?

The answer, from a handful of owners, trainers, and bloodstock agents in attendance during the sale's first couple of days, was a resounding no.

Baden P. "Buzz" Chace, the East Coast-based bloodstock agent, was searching for horses over the first two days of the sale for Barry Schwartz, the former chief executive officer of NYRA and the owner of Stonewall Farm. Schwartz races his stock almost exclusively in New York.

"He told me to find some real good runners," Chace said. "He didn't mention anything about any slot machines."

Mark Hennig, the New York trainer who is representing several New York clients, including Lee Lewis, Pete Willmott, and GRS Stable, was asked whether his buyers instructed him to place a premium on racing stock because of slot machines.

"No one has said anything about that," Hennig said. "I don't think that has had any impact on it at all."

Although economists and supporters of slot machines contend that the purse revenues from slot machines should have an effect on the bloodstock market, the first two days of Keeneland September may defy predictions. Typically, the horses in Keeneland's first two catalogs are selected on pedigree as well as conformation, and many buyers' decisions are guided more by the yearling's ultimate breeding value rather than earnings potential on the racetrack.

The first two days of results at the sale certainly put those factors on display. Well-bred yearlings were bringing prices not seen since the 1980's bloodstock boom, and much of the top-end buying was being done by those who are less interested in racetrack earnings - Coolmore Stud and the Maktoum brothers of the United Arab Emirates, for example.