03/28/2005 12:00AM

Roses in May gives Ramsey goosebumps


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Owner Ken Ramsey literally spilled blood over Roses in May's victory in Saturday's $6 million Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba.

While Ramsey was walking Roses in May into a crowded winner's circle, the horse swung his head and struck Ramsey on his left temple. Perhaps it was Roses in May's version of an equine high five. In any case, it left Ramsey with a cut on his brow, which earned the attention of first aid.

For Ramsey, who has had a tumultuous few months, it was a small price to pay for winning the world's richest race.

"This is the biggest moment I've had in racing," he said later. "I feel like I've climbed the mountain tonight."

Roses in May put Ramsey in the news from on the track this time, and not off of it.

Last December, Ramsey was suspended for a week and fined $25,000 by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority for paying a rival owner $1,000 to scratch a horse from a race at Turfway Park.

A few weeks later, while collecting the Eclipse Award for his Kitten's Joy as the champion male turf horse at the Eclipse Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., he made a tearful apology to the sport. The speech was met with mixed reaction: some in the audience gave him a standing ovation, others remained silent. Later that night, he was honored with the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding owner of 2004.

None of that was on Ramsey's mind after Roses in May's three-length win on Saturday night in this desert country that borders Saudi Arabia.

In the build-up to the race, Ramsey seemed to be the center of attention wherever he went. A large picture of him was on the cover of a local racing paper on Saturday. Ramsey saw a copy in the hands of a local man and approached him. "I said, 'Where can I get one of those,' " Ramsey recalled saying. "The man looked at the picture, looked at me, looked at the picture again, and said, 'You can have this one.' "

But even though Roses in May was a heavy favorite, Ramsey said he was nearly overcome with nervousness before the race.

"I guess it was all the hype," he said.

The post-race press conference, which typically lasts about 15 minutes, went for 45 minutes as Ramsey entertained one journalist after another.

Ramsey and trainer Dale Romans had expressed strong confidence in Roses in May's chances, and approached race strategy the same way. Ridden by John Velazquez, Roses in May was always near the front, took command with six furlongs remaining, and pulled clear to win by three lengths.

"When I saw him open up at the head of the stretch, I thought it was over," Ramsey said. "He just keeps going."

The performance impressed Velazquez.

"He's just getting better and better," he said. "He's the $6 million horse now."

Roses in May will return to Kentucky and resume racing this summer, Romans said. Ramsey wants a rematch with Ghostzapper, who defeated Roses in May in the Breeders' Cup Classic last October at Lone Star Park. The second-place finish there prevented Roses in May from being named Horse of the Year.

Ramsey has his sights set on another international race later this year. He he wants to send Kitten's Joy to Paris for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.

Kitten's Joy, trained by Romans, has resumed training after undergoing surgery to have a bone chip removed from a knee. He could make a comeback in the Manhattan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard in June, Ramsey said.

Blues and Royals win fools his trainer

Officials with the Maktoum family's Godolphin racing seemed as stunned as anyone after Blues and Royals's 12-length romp in the $2 million UAE Derby.

Racing manager Simon Crisford said in the winner's circle that Blues and Royals would be nominated to the Triple Crown later on Saturday at a cost of $6,000.

The race result was not what Godolphin had envisioned. Favored Shamardal, the European champion 2-year-old male of 2004, who is also owned by Godolphin, was expected to win the UAE Derby in his dirt track debut and earn a trip to the Kentucky Derby. But Shamardal faded in early stretch after racing near the front and finished a well-beaten ninth.

Shamardal might still be sent to the Derby, though that seems unlikely after Saturday's result.

"He was too fresh and a little too keen," Crisford said. "Whether he's on an American program or a European program, we'll have to see when the dust settles."

Blues and Royals, by Honour and Glory, was stakes placed on turf in England last year.

"He was very much our second string," Crisford said. "We thought he could finish in the frame. We are surprised. We thought Shamardal would run a better race."

William Hill, the English bookmaking firm, listed Blues and Royals at 12-1 to win the Kentucky Derby.

Crisford said Blues and Royals will leave for Kentucky on April 26 and will go into the Kentucky Derby with only one prep race this year. The colt will try to give Godolphin its first Kentucky Derby winner. He will be Godolphin's sixth starter.

"He's got a good attitude," Crisford said. "I'm sure he'll give a good account of himself in the Kentucky Derby."

World Cup discusses expansion

The Emirates Racing Association, which hosts the Dubai World Cup, has held discussions about expanding the program to two days.

There is talk of adding a program on a Friday that would emphasize turf racing. Such a move would result in one or both of the major turf races on the World Cup undercard - the Sheema Classic over about 1 1/2 miles and the Dubai Duty Free over about 1 1/8 miles - be moved to Friday. The two turf stakes, which currently are worth $2 million each, would also get purse raises.

Martin Talty, a member of the Dubai World Cup committee, said any changes must be approved by Sheikh Mohammed, the crown prince of Dubai and the owner of Darley Stable and Godolphin Racing.

"The final decision would come from Sheikh Mohammed," Talty said. "If he wants two days, we'll do two days. It's his event.

"If you do have two days, which would be fantastic, you're looking at more races. It would be interesting."

It was truly a worldwide event

The World Cup program, designed to attract runners from throughout the world, included winners from five continents.

North American racing was represented by Roses in May and Saratoga County, the winner of the $2 million Golden Shaheen.

Phoenix Reach, the winner of the $2 million Sheema Classic, is based in England. Grand Emporium, who won the $1 million Godolphin Mile, is a South African-bred who raced there until January.

Blues and Royals is based in Dubai, which is on the continent of Asia.

Australians in the crowd, and there were many, celebrated when Elvstroem won the $2 million Dubai Duty Free Stakes.