Kentucky horse-lovers from the beginning:
The natives of Eastern Kentucky live on Ramsey Farm 10 miles south of Lexington. The property was formerly Almahurst Farm, birthplace of 1918 Derby winner Exterminator and Standardbred legend Greyhound, and a leading breeding operation for over 100 years. They purchased the farm in 1994. Kenneth said, "I used to be a hotwalker. At one time I had my trainer's license, I won a race up at River Downs who paid $52. So I have tacked them up, tied up the tongue, bandaged them up, and all that."
The Ramseys began in the real estate business then invested in cellular telephone franchises along I-75 in Georgia and Kentucky. "I've been living the American dream. I've been able to do what I've always wanted to do, I'm very passionate about the horses, about the whole racing game. The extra money we picked up from the cellular telephone business enables us to do all that. We've been in a position to get lucky and we're happy."
Entering the horse ownership business:
Kenneth Ramsey originally got into racin in the 1980s but gave that up to focus on his cellular business. In 1994 he began to build his racing and breeding operation. When asked why he always walks his horses into the winner's circle, he said, "I lead them in whether it's a $5000 claimer or a Grade 1 stakes winner. It's a great experience. I like to let a lot of other people lead them in with me, my friends, my kids, my grandkids, and I always send them a picture of their 5 minutes of fame."
Sarah Kathern Ramsey's involvement:
Mrs. Ramsey only leads in their top stakes winners. Kenneth said, "My wife is a bit more discriminating, she only leads in the Grade 1's." When asked how Kitten's Joy got his name, Sarah K. Ramsey said, "Sometimes we ourselves forget that they get their names when they're easy-going like it should have been for a little foal and not this sweet stallion prospect they might become. All the babies that come out of Kitten's First I kind of laid claim to and I name them, they're my babies."
Kenneth talks about trainer Dale Romans:
Although the Ramseys use several high-profile trainers, they appear partial to Dale Romans, trainer of Kitten's Joy and Roses in May. He said, "Dale Romans is an outstanding trainer. He knows horses from the ground up. He started out with his father who was a trainer till he was 60 years old. If you're doing something you're that passionate about, you don't consider it work. That's how Dale is. He's done everything we wanted except make it to the Derby"
Why Kitten's Joy has remained on the turf:
Ken Ramsey said, "Jerry Bailey rode him in the Tropical Park Derby and came back in the Palm Beach Stakes and he won again. Of course I'm very much interested in the Kentucky Derby, being a Kentucky boy, so I asked Jerry if there was any chance of converting this horse over to the dirt. We're stabled at Palm Meadows, and we sent him out with another of our stakes winners who we got 6 lengths ahead of him." However, Bailey was not as confident about the workout as Ramsey was.
Jerry Bailey sets the stage for Kitten's Joy:
Jerry Bailey said to Ramsay at the time, "I'm sorry to say this, but this horse has better action on the grass than he has on dirt. He still had the same acceleration at the end, when he changes gears, but he didn't do it as effortlessly as he did on the grass. I think he'll make a good grass horse for you." Kitten's Joy has gone on to multiple graded stakes wins on turf, including an impressive performance in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic against older horses at 1 1/2 miles.
Ramsey's best Breeders' Cup hope?:
"I have the best shot in Kitten's Joy. Anytime you have a horse that can go a mile and a quarter and finish out the final quarter in 22 3/5 seconds. If you have a horse that can finish in less than 24 you've got a pretty good horse. What's good about this horse is that he's consistent. Each time he performs the same, the same, the same. It's not, one time he fires, next time he doesn't fire. I think he's going to be pretty tough to beat. I think he's going to be right there at the finish."
Roses in May vs. Azeri in the Classic:
During the press conference, D.Wayne Lukas announced Azeri would go in the Classic, where the Ramsey's Roses in May is entered. Ramsey said, "I have a lot of respect for Wayne (Lukas), he got my horse Ten Cents a Shine to the Derby and we were only beat 7 lengths. Given that we're going against a Horse of the Year, I wish he had gone to the Distaff. Ladies first, except in the World Thoroughbred Championships Distaff."