Owner Ken Ramsey makes no apologies for his brazen desire to one day win the Kentucky Derby. Since getting into the 20-horse field is a huge chunk of the battle, Ramsey outlined his current plan Tuesday afternoon to give his most promising 3-year-old runners a chance at bringing him and his family to the classic promise land.
Grade III winner Bobby’s Kitten, tabbed by Ramsey as arguably his most talented youngster last fall, is slated to start next in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 12 in an attempt to earn his way into the first leg of the Triple Crown. Bobby’s Kitten made his seasonal bow in a one-mile allowance race on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs this past Saturday and, unlike his third-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November where he faded after setting blistering early fractions, the son of Kitten’s Joy relaxed kindly under jockey Javier Castellano on the front end en route to a 1 1/2-length victory.
With Bobby’s Kitten Lexington bound, Grade I winner We Miss Artie – who ran eighth in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes – will be pointed to the Grade III Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 22 while Vicar’s in Trouble, third in the Grade II Risen Star on Feb. 22, is still being aimed at the Grade II Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 29 despite popping an abscess recently in his left front foot, according to Ramsey.
Of the above trio, Vicar’s in Trouble is the only one who is proven on the dirt, having broken his maiden at Fair Grounds last December and won the Grade III LeComte Stakes there on Jan. 18. Regardless of the dirt-form question marks We Miss Artie and Bobby’s Kitten may carry, Ramsey reiterated that as long as his contenders are sound and have the qualifying points needed to make the Kentucky Derby field, they will absolutely be in the starting gate.
“If we get enough points, we’re going to use ours,” Ramsey said Tuesday. “I mean, who knows. (Champion) Animal Kingdom won the (2011) Spiral Stakes and won the Derby. If I can qualify one, I’m putting him in. I go back to the old cliche if you’re not in it you can’t win it. I have to win that thing (the Derby) before I pass onto that big racetrack in the sky.”
Fresh off their record-setting 2013 season that saw him and his wife sweep the Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Owner and Outstanding Breeder, it’s been same old, same old for Ken and Sarah Ramsey this year as they hold a commanding lead in the owners standings at Gulfstream Park with 35 wins.
Proving again that their dominance can not be contained, Ken Ramsey made the trip to Barbados this past weekend to witness their 8-year-old gelding Major Marvel score a 3 1/2-length victory in the Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup at Savannah Garrison Racecourse. Along with being blown away by the 28-inch tall trophy he was bestowed, Ramsey could not speak highly enough of the hospitality he was shown including being a guest in the box of owner Sir David Seale – who has won the Barbados Gold Cup a record seven times.
“I had an absolute blast down there. You talk about somebody going overboard to treat you nice, they all rolled out the red carpet,” Ramsey said. “I tell you what, we were the first Americas to go down there and win it. It was an experience to remember.
“After the race brought it back up to (Seale’s) box then we went over to the Members’ Club and I took he trophy over there and got a standing ovation. We put five bottles of champagne in this gold cup. The bar furnished us a box of straws so probably 80 percent of the people there drank champagne out of the cup. It was so heartfelt there, more down to earth.”
Ramsey hopes several of his top runners from a year ago can continue to keep the win totals piled up. Real Solution, who prevailed in the Grade I Arlington Million last August via disqualification, will bypass a trip to Dubai as originally planned and instead point for the Grade II Mervin Muniz at Fair Grounds March 29.
From there, starts in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic May 3 at Churchill Downs and Grade I Manhattan at Belmont Park on June 7 are tentatively on tap for the homebred son of Kitten’s Joy. Fellow Grade I winner Stephanie’s Kitten, unraced since running third in the Grade I Diane last July, is being pointed toward making her comeback in the Grade I Jenny Wiley at Keeneland on April 12 while stakes winner Thank You Marylou could turn up in the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 5.
Multiple grade I winner Big Blue Kitten is currently being freshened on Ramsey Farm for his 6-year-old campaign.