The 7-2 favorite for Thursday's Ramsey Farm Stakes at Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky., is the 5-year-old mare Mom's On Strike, winner of Keeneland's Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at 1 1/2 miles and subsequently a good fourth in Belmont's Grade 2 New York after being very far back and second in Saratoga's off-the-turf $200,000 Waya.
“We're looking forward to getting back on the turf,” said trainer Joe Sharp. “She shows up every single time. She hooked a filly in the Waya that was loose on the lead and just outran us on the dirt. Timing-wise, this should be a good set-up as her last start before the Breeders' Cup if things go as planned.”
The 1 3/8-mile Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare is Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, a course over which Mom's On Strike had a win and a second last fall before bursting on the stakes scene in New Orleans.
“I think the farther the better for her,” Sharp said. “A mile and five-sixteenths at Kentucky Downs is like a mile and a half anywhere else, with that uphill stretch. It really seems to add distance without any added distance. I really think that long stretch is going to work in her favor. She can kind of have a good gallop until turning for home, and that's where she does all her running.”
Mom's On Strike, as a Florida-bred, runs for the $200,000 base purse, with the other $200,000 available for Kentucky-breds through the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Funds.
“We're running for half. But we're close, it's in our backyard and the distance is right,” Sharp said. “It's worth it. And $200,000 is nothing to sneeze at. If you can get past mentally running for half, the rest of it is OK. That's all it is. It's still a lot of money, and she's going into it in great form.”
Mom's On Strike is owned by Carl Moore and Brad Grady, and how they got her is a strange story. Mom's On Strike's original owners sent her to Sharp as a 2-year-old without advance notice.
“The people who owned her went bankrupt,” Sharp said. “I had her for more than nine months at Belmont, and they never paid a bill. Didn't even know the people who sent her to me. She just showed up on a Sallee van one morning at the Fair Grounds. I was able to track her back to the farm. Long and short of it, they went bankrupt, Chapter 11, like 70 creditors owed.”
The massive Mom's On Strike showed enough as a 3-year-old, including finishing second in a stakes at Belmont in her turf debut, to keep Sharp going with her. Then the bankruptcy hit. She went six months without training — and more than 13 months without Sharp being paid — until the mess could be sorted out.
“The New York stewards were really great and stood behind me,” he said. “She just hand-walked all winter, because I figured if I trained her and they saw works, they'd never pay me.
“We got her sold basically for a little more than what they owed me to Carl Moore and Brad Grady. It worked out great. And honestly, with a filly her (large) size, it was probably a blessing in disguise to get some time off. I just wish it could have been turned out eating grass instead of on the backside at Belmont. But it all worked out. Brad and Carl have been supporters of us from day one, so it's fun. It really ended up being a neat deal that we got to keep her, and she's been pretty special to us.”
Since being sold, Mom's On Strike has five wins, four seconds and two fourths, with three stakes victories, in 12 starts.
“I really can't believe I came up on the up side of it,” Sharp said. “I'm telling you, I've never seen anything like it.”
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