Ramseys Lead Gulfstream Owners Title Chase
Tulira Castle Kept on Edge for Holy Bull
Picou Going ‘Good’ Into Sunshine Millions Turf

Ramseys Lead Gulfstream Owners Title Chase

Prolific owner-breeder Ken Ramsey is a familiar figure in the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle these days as he leads each of his winners into the enclosure to get their picture taken when he is in town, most recently Wednesday afternoon. He hopes do the same with he and his wife Sarah’s 3-year-old homebred colt Charming Kitten after Saturday’s second running of the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes.

The Ramseys are having a strong meet as the mid-point of the season approaches and currently lead the owners’ standings with 20 victories, 10 more than 2011-12 meet leader Frank Calabrese. The Ramseys have won numerous meet titles at home in Kentucky at Churchill Downs and Keeneland.

“We’ll have to stay on top of it if we want to win this title,” says Ramsey. “We won it in 2009 and Frank Calabrese has won it the last three years.” The Ramseys currently have horses with six different trainers in South Florida this winter – Mike Maker, Wesley Ward, Chad Brown, Wayne Catalano, Christophe Clement and Todd Pletcher

The Ramseys were voted Eclipse Award owner in 2004 when buoyed by the accomplishments of Eclipse Award turf champion Kitten’s Joy and Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Roses in May, both trained by Dale Romans. They chose to retain and stand Kitten’s Joy at their Ramsey Farm near Lexington, Ky. while selling Roses in May to stand in Japan.

The choice to keep Kitten’s Joy has proven to be a tremendous success story with his progeny earnings hitting $6.8 million in 2011 and their homebred filly Stephanie’s Kitten leading the way after winning the Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G2) at Churchill Downs. Kitten’s Joy came back with another productive year in 2012 as his offspring earned $6.5 million.

“He had 15 stakes winners and 31 stakes runners last year, He didn’t have the Grade 1 winner like he did in 2011 with Stephanie’s Kitten, but it was another solid year.” said Ramsey, who can recite statistics on his sprawling operations that includes horses in training in several states at a time, his own sizable broodmare band and of course, Kitten’s Joy and his matings.

“He was bred to 214 mares last year (60 of his own) and we expect he’ll have somewhere around 190 foals this spring. We turned down another 143 mares. He’ll breed to somewhat fewer mares this year as the quality of his book is getting stronger. Unfortunately, one of the mares was Hollywood Wildcat who died in foal.” The 1993 Eclipse Champion 3-year-old filly died June 23 from complications of cancer.

Kitten’s Joy stood for a $50,000 fee in 2012 and remains the same in 2013 for those that can get to him.

The Ramseys bred Kitten’s Joy in Kentucky. The flashy chestnut by El Prado out of Kitten’s First, by Lear Fan earned one of his first major victories at Gulfstream early in 2004 when he won the $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes (G3). After a fifth-place career as a 2-year-old in 2003 debut sprinting on dirt at Saratoga in 2003, he would go on to finish one-two in all 13 of his starts thereafter with nine wins and four seconds.

In addition to Stephanie’s Kitten, the most accomplished offspring have included Dean’s Kitten, winner of the Lane’s End Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, Del Mar Derby (G2) winner Banned, Csaba, Queen’splatekitten, Politcallycorrect and Big Blue Kitten.

Tulira Castle Kept on Edge for Holy Bull

Curtis Green’s 3-year-old Kentucky homebred colt Tulira Castle breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 Friday morning at Gulfstrream Park for trainer Jim DiVito as he prepares for his biggest test yet in next Saturday’s $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles.

“Today’s work was basically just maintenance,” said Divito. “We’ve completed his training up to the race and now it’s time to step up and find out where we stand with some of the leaders in the division. We know he’s a very nice horse, but we still have to get the answers to some questions, particularly trying two turns for the first time.”

A son of young stallion War Pass, Tulira Castle has made four starts, beginning with a runner-up debut at Arlington Park on Aug. 9. He came back to break his maiden at Arlington on Aug. 30 and ran well finishing second in a seven-furlong allowance at Keeneland on Oct. 13.

Tulira Castle stepped up to a one-turn mile allowance over the Gulfstream track on Dec. 8 in his first start on dirt and was impressive drawing off to score by 2 ¼ lengths under Javier Castellano, who is expected to have the mount in the Holy Bull.

Picou Going ‘Good’ Into Sunshine Millions Turf

Trainer David Fawkes sends out a five-strong team into Saturday’s $1.3 million Sunshine Millions stakes races at Gulfstream Park including two in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf – John Eaton and Steve Laymon’s 8-year-old homebred gelding Picou and Alex and JoAnn Lieblong and partners’ 7-year-old Duke of Mischief.

Fawkes developed Picou as a young horse through his first three starts in 2008 before he was transferred to Chad Brown in New York. Fawkes got him back in 2011 following a 16-month layoff. The chestnut son of With Approval ran three times that fall, including a close-up second-place finish behind Bad Debt in the $125,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup at Calder.

Picou didn’t run again until the renewal of the same race on Nov. 10 when he ran a big race again to be fourth, beaten only a half-length for it all. Picou came back to finish third over the Gulfstream course on Dec. 8, beaten a half-length by the winner when racing for a $50,000 claiming tag and no takers.

“He had problems with a foreleg and needed a lot of time off,” said Fawkes of Picou’s lengthy layoffs. “He’s doing good and run two good races now on the comeback. After Doubles Partner I think the race is wide-open and could set up well for him (pace).”

Picou ran in the 2010 edition of the Sunshine Millions Turf, finishing third behind Jet Propulsion when trained by Brown and won the Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs by 3 ¼ lengths in early April of 2010. The first long layoff followed an eighth-place finish in the Dixie Stakes (G2) at Pimlico, although beaten only four lengths for it all.

Fort Larned Gets Back to Work

Janis Whitham’s 5-year-old Kentucky homebred Fort Larned breezed a half-mile in 48 2/5 Friday morning at Gulfstream Park in his first recorded workout since his stunning half-length victory over Mucho Macho Man in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

A son of E Dubai, Fort Larned is one of three finalists for 2012 Eclipse Awards as Older Male and Horse of the Year to be announced in ceremonies Saturday night at Gulfstream Park. Trainer Ian Wilkes has indicated that plans call for Fort Larned to launch his 2013 season in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) at one mile on Sat., Mar. 9.