06/30/2010 12:00AM

Ramseys lucky winners of Nehru


Saturday's $75,000 Cleveland Gold Cup, the premier race for Ohio-bred 3-year-olds at Thistledown, has drawn a very interesting field of 10, including last year's statebred juvenile champ That's a Heckofacat, a three-time stakes winner in 2009.

While hard to believe, a key player in this weekend's 1 1/8-mile Gold Cup emerged from a modest claiming event last winter in south Florida.

On March 14, the eighth race at Gulfstream Park was for $35,000 claimers going one mile on turf. Among the participants was a 3-year-old Ohio-bred gelding named Nehru.

A grandson of A.P. Indy, winner of the 1992 Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic, Nehru had been bought for $60,000 at auction. But four months after a third-place finish in a $100,000 claiming race at Churchill Downs, his connections dropped him in for the reduced claiming price.

Nehru finished fourth after a troubled trip in the Gulfstream Park race and after a three-way shake at the claim box, the horse was awarded to owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wesley Ward.

William Cowans, who trains That's a Heckofacat and Almighty O, both Gold Cup entrants, had also dropped a claim for Nehru.

"Yes, I wanted the horse," said Cowans. "He looked worth the money."

"I guess I was luckier than he was," said Ward, who advised the Ramseys to claim Nehru.

Raymond Buse Jr., who owns Almighty O, was the breeder and seller of Nehru through his Meadow Springs Farm in Clermont County, Ohio.

Almighty O, Nehru, and That's a Heckofacat met at River Downs in the May 29 Green Carpet Handicap.

Almighty O finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length by another Gold Cup rival, Busha. Nehru was favored and finished third. That's a Heckofacat suffered his first defeat, finishing an adventurous sixth.

"He had never been on the turf before and blew both turns," Cowans said of That's a Heckofacat. "But he's been training real well with two good works since the Green Carpet.

"Almighty O is also doing well."

That's a Heckofacat's stakes victories last year include the Juvenile and Cleveland Kindergarten at Thistledown.

Cowans is looking for back-to-back Gold Cup victories. He won last year's running with Hurley's Way. He would have been going for three in a row, but his 2008 winner, Marble Cliff, was disqualified after it was later discovered he was not an Ohio-bred.

Nehru has won once in four career outings, an allowance on the turf at River Downs on May 16.

"He's been training unbelievably well," said Ward. "I'm not worried about him on dirt. He ran well at Churchill Downs last year."