Ken Ramsey has two goals this Thursday for Kentucky Downs' closing-day turf card: Win his fifth consecutive owners title at America's most unique race meet, and present the trophy to himself for the $350,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes, the race formerly known as the Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon in which Ramsey is running 2-1 favorite Kitten's Roar and 6-1 second choice Daring Duchess.
Ramsey could end the day with three trophies as he also has 5-1 Kitten's Cat in the co-featured $200,000 Franklin-Simpson Stakes for 3-year-olds running seventh-eighths. Kitten's Cat, while running well, is seeking to win for the first time since Ramsey's last kept a trophy for a race he sponsored. Kitten's Roar, Daring Duchess and Kitten's Cat are all trained by Mike Maker.
“I got to present the trophy down at Gulfstream Park for the Kitten's Joy Stakes,” Kentucky's all-time winningest racehorse owner said, referring to the Florida stakes named for his turf champion and current star stallion at Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville. “I presented the trophy to my wife. I don't know if she's coming or not (Thursday), but I'd like to make a little speech and transfer it from my left hand to the right hand.”
Ramsey, who campaigns horses with his wife Sarah, appears in good shape for that fifth straight owners title and in great shape to secure at least a tie. The Ramseys have a 3-2 edge over G. Watts Humphrey Jr. and GenStar Thoroughbreds heading into Thursday's closing day. Humphrey has two horses entered, but one requires a scratch to run. GenStar has only one horse running.
With six victories out of 35 starts, trainer Mike Maker is in control of his third straight Kentucky Downs crown, his six victories being three more than second-place Ian Wilkes and Bill Mott. Wilkes has five horses entered for Thursday and could make it interesting with a huge day. Mott only has one horse in for closing day.
Julien Leparoux, the 2014 Kentucky Downs riding leader, carries a 6-4 win cushion over two-time defending champ Florent Geroux and Jose Lezcano (who doesn't ride here Thursday). Leparoux is in eight races, while Geroux is in six races and needs defections by scratch time Wednesday morning to ride in a seventh.
The Ramseys won the 1 5/16-mile Ladies Marathon last year with Al's Gal, who in her next start captured Woodbines' Grade 1 E.P. Taylor.
The owner purchased the 5-year-old Kitten's Roar, a daughter of Kitten's Joy, for $130,000 at Keeneland's 2013 yearling sale. While he has the factory when it comes to breeding sons and daughters of Kitten's Joy, Ramsey said he also buys others to support those breeding to his stallion.
The late-running Kitten's Roar, winner of the Fair Grounds' Marie Krantz, could earn the biggest win of her career but she's run very well against some of the top turf mares in the country. She was beaten less than two lengths in the Grade 1 Beverly D won by Dacita and Keeneland's Grade 1 Jenny Wiley in which the amazing Lady Eli was second. Kitten's Roar won a second-level allowance race at Kentucky Downs last year.
Daring Duchess was a $35,000 claim at Saratoga last year. Her two victories for the Ramseys and Maker have been a Belmont allowance race and Churchill Downs' 1 1/2-mile Keertana two races back.
Daring Duchess appears the logical pacesetter, though Sister Blues also has been effective laying up close.
“But we don't have her in there as a rabbit,” Ramsey said. “She's good enough to win it herself. Either of my two could get it. These two complement each other. One will be going to the front or fairly close to the pace. The other will be laying mid-pack, covered up waiting for an opening. So we have a definite chance.”
Of Kitten's Cat, he said, “I'm expecting him to run big in that race. And we got what I consider the top jockey in North America riding in Jose Ortiz. He cleaned house up at Saratoga for two years in a row, and we get him coming down here for this.”
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