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Friday, December 5, 2014

Ramseys Looking to Have More Fun in Saturday’s $1 Million Claiming Crown

Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey compete at the very highest level of the Sport of Kings, but they have hardly forgotten their roots in the claiming ranks. Although their names and horses are closely linked with major stakes throughout the calendar year, the Ramseys have continued to thoroughly enjoy playing the claiming game.

“I like the competition. I just like to win,” said Ken Ramsey, who, along with his wife, has been honored three times with an Eclipse Award as North America’s outstanding owners and once for outstanding breeders. “I almost have as much fun leading my claimers into the winner’s circle as my stakes horses.”

No one has had more fun than the Ramseys when it comes to the Claiming Crown, the marquee event for Thoroughbred racing’s most enduring performers.

The Artemus, Ky. natives have visited the winner’s circle with a record 12 victors of Claiming Crown stakes, and they’ll be looking to have more fun Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the eight-race $1 million Claiming Crown will highlight Opening Day of the 2014-2015 Championship Meet. The Ramseys will be represented by six horses in three of the eight stakes.

“We’re a little light this year,” said Ken Ramsey, whose annual goal is to have at least one horse in all eight races.

Although they may be lacking in quantity, the Ramseys will be represented by quality. Eriugena, a 4-year-old gelding who is coming off a first and a second in optional claiming allowances in Kentucky, will carry the Ramseys’ familiar white and red colors in the featured $200,000 Jewel, a 1 1/8-mile event for horses that raced for a claiming price of $35,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2013. The Ramseys have entered three horses in the $125,000 Emerald, a 1 1/16-mile turf event for horses that have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less: Sayler’s Creek, who is undefeated in two starts over the Gulfstream turf; Saffron Hall, who is coming off a pair of allowance victories in Kentucky; and Longhunter, a three-time winner over the Gulfstream green.

St. Borealis, a recent winner at Churchill Downs in her first start since being claimed, and Scenario Analysis will represent the Ramseys in the $125,000 Tiara, a 1 1/16-mile turf event for fillies and mares that raced for a claiming price of $25,000 or less.

All six runners are trained by Mike Maker, who has saddled a record 12 Claiming Crown winners.

“I talked to Maker and he thinks we have a big shot to win two, which probably means I won’t get shut out. I’m going to predict we’ll win one,” said Ramsey, who visited the Gulfstream winner’s circle with two Claiming Crown winners last year and a record four in 2012.

“We have a good shot at winning in the Emerald. We’ve got a three-horse entry. We’ve got Sayler’s Creek, he could win it; Saffron Hall, he could win it; and we’ve got a horse that hasn’t run since April (Longhunter); I don’t know if Mike got him cranked up 100-percent or not. I’d say Saffron Hall and Sayler’s Creek will be tough to beat,” Ramsey said. “In the big race that we won and surprised everybody a couple years ago with a horse that paid 30-something dollars (Parent’s Honor in 2012), we’ve got a real hard-knocker called Eriugena. If he’s on his game, he may be tough.”

Ramsey hopes to be able to share a victory with some Gulfstream fans while leading a horse into the winner’s circle Saturday.

“The fans love it. I try to interact with the fans. I think it’s doing a service to the racing industry, because we always have somebody help up bring them in. I have a waiting list of people down in Florida. People enjoy that,” Ramsey said. “I’ll tell you, my picture is in more living rooms or dens or family rooms than any other owner in the country. Every time I win, it’s me and two or three more leading the horse in.”

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