01/12/2005 1:00AM

Ramsey's ethics under review

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ken Ramsey, who with his wife, Sarah, is one of three finalists for a 2004 Eclipse Award for owner of the year, has been under investigation by the Kentucky stewards for a possible breach of ethics.

Full details were not available Wednesday, although a fellow horseman who asked to remain anonymous said the case involves Ramsey contacting another owner about scratching a horse from a race at Turfway Park on New Year's Eve to allow a Ramsey-owned horse to draw into the race.

Jim Gallagher, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, and Mickey Sample, Kentucky chief steward, both confirmed that Ramsey has been under investigation but said a state statute prohibits them from further discussion. Sample said the topic was tentatively scheduled to be discussed at a regularly scheduled meeting of the KHRA on Thursday in Lexington. There was no word on whether the investigation has been completed.

The case, according to the horseman, focuses on the first race on Dec. 31 at Turfway, where the Ramseys would have been represented by Ken's Cat, a 2-year-old by the first-year sire Catienus. Ramsey apparently asked owner-trainer Barbara Conner to scratch longshot Mamaroni to get Ken's Cat into the race off the also-eligible list. Ramsey's apparent aim was to improve the chances that Catienus, whom he owns, would become the leading first-year sire in North America by individual winners.

Conner did not scratch Mamaroni, and Ken's Cat was left out of the race. Catienus ended the year with 19 individual winners, the most of any first-year sire.

Ramsey is on a three-week vacation cruise and is not scheduled to return until shortly before the Eclipse Awards dinner in Los Angeles on Jan. 24. He has been unavailable for comment this week.

Conner said she is being represented by Allen Poindexter, a Lebanon, Tenn., attorney, but declined further comment. Conner trains a small stable in the Nashville area. Poindexter did not return phone calls.