Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey won their unprecedented 400th career race at Churchill Downs on Wednesday when 3-year-old gelding Sandbar prevailed in the second race.
The Ramseys, multiple Eclipse Award winners who race their horses in the familiar white and red silks branded with an “R,” are the all-time leading owners at Churchill Downs, with Overbrook Farm a distant second with 208 victories. The Nicholasville, Ky. couple has won a record 22 owners’ titles at the historic Louisville racetrack: nine Spring Meet championships, 11 Fall Meet championships and two September Meet championships.
Ramsey, who celebrated his 79th birthday Monday just two days after winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GI) at Santa Anita with Bobby’s Kitten, said that while 400 victories is a great accomplishment, he still has one more goal left on his Churchill Downs bucket list.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” Ramsey said. “I never thought I’d get to 400 wins but I still need to get one more across the way over there in the Derby (Winner’s Circle) before my time is up. But I’ll tell you, it’s difficult; I’ve started several horses in the Kentucky Derby and haven’t gotten a win there yet so that remains my number one goal.”
Ramsey, who was on hand Wednesday with son Jeff Ramsey, had a lot of people to thank after reaching Wednesday’s milestone.
“I really want to thank all the fans who have come out and supported us all this time,” Ramsey said. “It’s taken me 79 years to get 400 wins here, so I hope it doesn’t take that long to get another 400.
“I definitely need to give credit to all the trainers, jockeys, farm managers, my son Jeff and everybody else who have helped us over the years. It’s definitely not a one-man show. There’s so much work that goes into this and we’re just all very thankful for being able to achieve this milestone.”
Ramsey has started six horses in the Kentucky Derby with his best finish coming from Ten Cents a Shine, who was eighth in 2003. His 2-year-old International Star, who won the Oct. 5 Grey (GIII) at Woodbine, is tied for third place on the early Road to the 2015 Kentucky Derby standings with 10 points.
GREENGRASSOFYOMING SEEKS GRADED STAKES GLORY IN SATURDAY’S $100,000-ADDED RIVER CITY
Fresh off his first stakes victory in the $100,000 Remington Green at Remington Park, Greengrassofyoming will look to duplicate that effort when he makes his graded stakes debut in Saturday’s $100,000-added River City Handicap (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
The River City will be contested at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, the same surface type and distance in which the Mike Tomlinson was able to win on in his last start. Tomlinson says the distance of Saturday’s race is ideal for Patricia’s Hope LLC’s 4-year-old gelding.
“The longer the better for him,” Tomlinson said. “I liked the way he came out of his last race and this one looked like a logical next step.”
Greengrassofyoming completed his final breeze for the River City on Tuesday with a half-mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course in :51.20.
“It was just a standard maintenance work to get him ready for Saturday,” Tomlinson said. “It went well, though. I was very pleased with what I saw.
“He ran a great race last time out, but obviously there was no Silver Max down there,” Tomlinson said. “We’re hoping maybe Silver Max isn’t in top form and we can go catch him Saturday.”
Greengrassofyoming will break from post position seven with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard for the River City, which goes as the ninth of 10 races Saturday with an approximate post time of 4:37 p.m. ET.
KNIGHTS NATION UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR CLARK AFTER IMPRESSIVE WIN SUNDAY
Knights Nation’s 4 ½-length victory going 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Churchill Downs on Sunday was enough for trainer Dallas Stewart to nominate Brad Ray’s 4-year-old gelding to the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (Grade I) on Friday, Nov. 28.
The victory was his first try on dirt since the son of Indygo Shiner won over an off track at Churchill Downs on Oct. 31, 2013.
“He has always worked well on dirt,” Stewart said. “I thought he looked great on Sunday and after a performance like that I felt we had to nominate him to the Clark. Now whether we go or not probably will be determined by how he progresses in the next couple weeks and who else is in there. I mean, a Grade I never is easy, especially this late in the year when people are fighting for Eclipse Awards.”
Nominations for the 1 1/8-mile Clark close Wednesday, Nov. 12.
While Stewart’s former turf runner Knights Nation has taken a liking to the dirt, 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) runner-up Golden Soul captured just his second win on Saturday at Churchill Downs in an allowance race going 1 3/8 miles on the turf.
“I think he’s going to stick to the turf,” Stewart said. “We were definitely happy to get another win with him finally. He’ll probably run again this year. We’re looking at a 1 ½-mile turf race out at Del Mar.”
The Hollywood Turf Cup (GI), a 1 ½-mile turf test for older horses, is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day at Del Mar.
Stewart also reported that Unbridled Forever, fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI), is done for the year.
“She’s had a great year,” Stewart said. “I think those other fillies were just a little too tough for her out at Santa Anita, but we’ve been really happy with the year she’s had.”
MAIDEN WINNER ZEVEN COULD RESURFACE IN GRADE II, $200,000 GOLDEN ROD ON NOV. 29
After breaking her maiden Sunday in her second start, trainer Eddie Kenneally said that Joseph Sutton’s Zeven could make her next start in the $200,000-added Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs on Saturday, Nov. 29.
The 2-year-old filly by Lookin at Lucky won by a length over Get Set Go going seven furlongs in 1:25.38, and Kenneally is hoping Zeven will be fit to stretch out in her next start.
“I’m hoping she can go a little longer,” Kenneally said. “Of course there are a lot more options for us if she can stretch out. You never know how she’ll be going longer until you try. But she’ll be nominated to the Golden Rod and we’ll see how things play out. It will just depend on how she trains between now and then and who else is in there, but it’s certainly a possibility.”
Nominations for the Golden Rod close Wednesday, Nov. 12. Kenneally would be seeking his first Golden Rod victory should he enter Zeven in the 1 1/16-mile dirt contest.
ALAN GARCIA MOVING TACK TO SAUDI ARABIA
Alan Garcia, the 2008 Belmont Stakes-winning jockey aboard 38-1 longshot Da’ Tara who relocated to Kentucky in 2013, is moving his tack and family to Saudi Arabia, according to agent Donnie Richardson.
Garcia, 29, had won with 40 of his 267 mounts (15.0%) at Churchill Downs since the 2013 Spring Meet but managed to crack the Top 10 of the jockey standings only once in six meetings beneath the Twin Spires – a tie for seventh with 16 wins from 115 mounts during his inaugural season.
After graduating from the Jorge Bernardini Yori jockey school and becoming a leading apprentice in his native Peru, Garcia ventured to the United States in 2003. He won more than 1,400 races in America, including 88 graded stakes, and his mounts earned more than $78.1 million. Garcia was the regular rider of 2007 Champion Turf Female Lahudood-GB, winner of that year’s Flower Bowl (GI) and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI).
Garcia’s only mount Wednesday at Churchill Downs, Spun Cat in Race 6, was scratched.
LEADING TURKISH JOCKEY HALLIS TO MAKE U.S. DEBUT SATURDAY AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Halis Karatas, one of Turkey’s foremost jockeys, will make his United States debut Saturday at Churchill Downs aboard four horses for Turksish-born trainer Murat Sancal.
The 42-year-old veteran jockey began riding in 1988 at age 14, and was dubbed a “living legend” by Turkish media in July 2012 after winning with each of his seven mounts at Veliefendi Racecourse in Istanbul – four races on turf and three on synthetic.
Sancal has named Karatas to ride Partyinslowmotion in Race 2, Stoptalkingmaria in Race 6, Bosphorous Storm in Race 7 and Brown Eyed Mary in Race 8.
Karatas is expected to ride at Churchill Downs for one week, according to Sancal.
ASTRONAUT TO WATCH ’15 DERBY FROM SPACE
In an interview with WDRB-41’s Travis Kircher on Wednesday morning, astronaut Terry Virts, who will depart on Nov. 23 for a six-month stint at the International Space Station, says he plans to watch the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands from 205 miles above the earth.
“I think the odds are 100 percent that we’re going to be watching the Kentucky Derby from space,” the 46-year-old told WDRB. “I actually used to own horses in Maryland. I’m from Maryland originally, and I used to own a Quarter Horse and an Appaloosa and so horse racing is near and dear to my heart. When I was stationed in Germany, we used to go ride the German warmblood horses. They’re very big, obviously, in dressage there in Germany and so it was pretty fun riding those animals. Those German horses were pretty big. It was a lot of fun to ride those.”
ON THE WORKTAB – Wednesday’s worktab at Churchill Downs was relatively light with stakes horses, but Captain Dixie, second place finisher in the Jefferson Turf Cup (GIII), completed five furlongs in 1:00.40, the third-fastest of 19 workers at the distance. The Kellyn Gorder trainee is nominated to the Nov. 15 Commonwealth Turf (GIII). … Another notable worker was duel stakes-winner Brewing (three furlongs in :34.60) for Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas. Brewing has not started since his runner-up effort in the Chick Lang on May 17 at Pimlico.
MILESTONE WATCH – Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. began Wednesday one win shy of joining the 300-win club at Churchill Downs. He was winless with his first two mounts but had rides in Races 9 (4:34 p.m.) and 10 (5:03 p.m.). …Robby Albarado will have to wait until at least Thursday to become the third jockey to win 1,000 races at Churchill Downs. Needing just two more victories to reach the milestone, he finished third on his first mount Wednesday and only has one more, Sumting Wong in Race 9 (4:34 p.m.), left on the day. He will ride six mounts Thursday under the Twin Spires.… Trainer Bret Calhoun is seeking his 100th Churchill Downs victory. His only starter Wednesday finished sixth in the second race, but he will have another shot at the milestone on Thursday with Bridaria in the eighth race…
DOWN THE STRETCH – The deadline to register for the public sale of 2015 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks tickets is Friday (Nov. 7). Those interested can register by logging onto KentuckyDerby.com/Tickets by providing their name, email address and zip code. The general public sale of remaining 2015 inventory will be held Thursday, Nov. 13 at 9 a.m. ET. … Jockey Corey Lanerie won three races Sunday at Churchill Downs: Zeven ($3.20) in Race 6, Knights Nation ($25.20) in Race 8 and Wine List ($5.20) in Race 10. He also took Wednesday’s fourth race with Cause for Victory ($2.80). The five-time leading rider at Churchill Downs widened his lead by a count of 12-8 over Shaun Bridgmohan in the local jockey standings… Lanerie’s last victory was for trainer Wayne Catalano, who is in a three-way tie for third place in trainer’s standings with Mark Casse and Tom Amoss. Michelle Lovell, who took the first two races of Sunday’s card: Zenittowinit ($15.60) and Prado Dash ($14.40), also took the first race on Wednesday’s card with Victory Colors ($8.20). Trainer Dale Romans is in sole possession of first place with six after saddling Cause for Victory to a win in Wednesday’s fourth race.… Owners Gary and Mary West marked their third win on the meet also with Wine List, putting them in first place among the owner’s standings. Juddmonte Farms Inc. holds the second place position with two. … Nominations for the 41st running of the $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap (Grade III), a 1 1/8-mile turf test for fillies and mares, close Wednesday night. … Pigskins and Ponies returns in the Plaza for the final four Saturdays of the Fall Meet with college football games on the Plaza video board, drink specials ($2 Bud/Bud Light, $3 Stella Artois and $1 Pepsi products and bottled water) and tailgate-style food from the Plaza Grill. Churchill Downs will offer free admission to college students every Saturday with a current student I.D. … Sunday is Family Adventure Day Presented by Kroger, which was a hit for families during the Spring and September meets with plenty of games and activities for children while the adults enjoy an exciting day of horse racing. … Jockey Miguel Mena will celebrate his 28th birthday on Thursday, and Hall of Fame rider Calvin Borel celebrates No. 48 on Friday.