Pair of ‘Kings’ Meet Again in Emerald
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Prolific owners-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey have emerged as a major players in Thoroughbred racing with their red and white colors prominent at all levels of the sport from the Breeders’ Cup down to the claiming ranks.
The 14th edition of the event will be run for the first time at Gulfstream Park after previously being held at Canterbury Downs, Philadelphia Park, Ellis Park and Fair Grounds.
“I think Gulfstream is a wonderful place to have the Claiming Crown,” Ken Ramsey said. “Sometimes when they’ve run it other places, all the races didn’t even fill. We’ll have at least one horse in all seven races and another horse or two in other races on the card if the right races fill.”
Ramsey goes into Saturday’s renewal as the leading owner of Claiming Crown winners with six, two more than Richard Englander. “We’ve won the six races with just nine starters,” noted Ramsey. Maker sends out all of the Ramsey runners and will bid to overtake trainer Scott Lake on that leader board as the latter leads 8-to-7 going into Saturday. Lake does not have any horse entered here Saturday.
“I’ll be coming down on Friday with my farm manager Mark Partridge,” Ramsey said from his Nicolasville, Ky. farm. “Then back home to Kentucky through the holidays until after the first of the year, before coming down for the whole meet through early April. We have a winter home in Sunny Isles Beach. It doesn’t take long to get to Gulfstream from there.”
The $200,000 Jewel at 1 1/8 miles is the richest race on the Claiming Crown menu with Three Diamonds Farm’s 4-year-old gelding Private Tale among the likely choices in a wide-open field of 12. The Jewel will have to share the spotlight atop the marquee with the $125,000 John Deere Emerald, a 1 1/16 mile turf race with lots of star appeal.
Trainer Mike Maker will send out Ramsey’s 6-year-old gelding Major Marvel in the Emerald but will also saddle the probable favorite, Scarlet Stable’s King David. The 3-year-old colt was claimed for $35,000 out of a winning race at Belmont Park on Sept. 13 and wheeled back to post a 28-to-1 upset in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap over the Belmont course on Oct. 6.
A son of Hat Trick, King David will be ridden by Edgar Prado in the full field of 14 with four others on the ‘also-eligible’ list. King David came back after the Jamaica to finish a fast-closing second in the Commonwealth Turf (G3) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17 and is prominent among 13 horses Maker has entered in the seven Claiming Crown events.
Jockey Javier Castellano will be aboard Major Marvel, a close-up second in a high-price optional allowance last out over the Churchill Downs course on Nov. 4. Claimed for $10,000 at Keeneland in April, the son of Bernstein won his next four starts, including the $100,000 West Virginia Speakers Cup on turf at Mountaineer Park in early August.
Finishing a solid second in the Jamaica behind King David was Gerald and Susan Kresa’s 3-year-old gelding King Kreesa, who will come back in the Emerald with jockey Joel Rosario in the saddle for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. The New York-bred son of King Cugat broke his maiden at Aqueduct in early April in his second career start while racing for a $25,000 claiming tag with no takers.
King Kreesa set the pace in the nine-furlong Jamaica as a 24-to-1 longshot before giving way grudgingly to be beaten a half-length by King David. He subsequently finished fourth as the favorite in the Monserrat Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 4, beaten only 1 ¼ lengths for it all.
Another solid contender in the Emerald that will get plenty of support is Richard Sherman’s 5-year-old gelding Nicki’s Sandcastle, who’ll be ridden by Corey Lanerie for trainer David Kassen. The Kentucky homebred raced for a $25,000 tag early in his career with no takers but has emerged this season as a solid stakes performer, most recently finishing a game second in the Fayette Stakes (G2) on Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 27.
Javier Castellano gets the call on Private Tale in the Jewel for trainer Michael Trombetta after finishing fourth last out in the seven-furlong Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) at Belmont on Oct. 27. The son of Tale of the Cat broke his maiden for a $25,000 claiming tag at Parx in mid-February and went on to win four more races.
The Ramsey-Maker team will be represented in the Jewel by Parent’s Honor, a son of Elusive Quality to be ridden by jockey Alan Garcia.
Another contender that will attract support in the Jewel will be Blackacre Farm’s 5-year-old Flatter This with Jose Lezcano getting the call for trainer Kathleen O’Connell. The chestnut son of Flatter is a multiple-stakes winner, finished third in the Spend a Buck Handicap (G3) at Calder in mid-October and won a starter allowance there two weeks later.
Completing the Claiming Crown stakes program line-up:
• $125,000 Tiara for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf: The Rudy Rodriguez-trained Silver Screamer, owned by Michael Imperio and Donald Olson, looms as the 4-year-old filly Silver Screamer as the horse to beat in this full field of 14. The roan/gray 4-year-old daughter of Cozzene is highly consistent with an 5-3-2 record in 11 starts on turf, finishing third in the Noble Damsel Stakes (G3) at Belmont in September and winning the Lady Baltimore last out at Laurel Park on Oct. 27.
• $100,000 Glass Slipper for fillies and mares at seven furlongs: Brinker Hill Farm’s 5-year-old mare Tamarind Hall has been a solid filly and Mare sprint stakes performer the last two seasons, winning the Bed o’ Roses (G3) at Belmont last year and most recently an even fourth in the Classy Mirage at Belmont on Oct. 14. Trained by David Fawkes, the daughter of Graeme Hall breaks from the far outside post 13.
• $100,000 Express for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs: Frank Calabrese’s 5-year-old gelding Cover Price rates high in the field of 10 drawn for this race after romping in a Calder allowance on Oct. 18 by 10 ¾ length for trainer Luis Ramirez.
• $100,000 Rapid Transit for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs: Michael and Paige Hui’s 5-year-old gelding Homeboykris, who won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont as a 2-year-old, enters the 14-horse race in winning form for trainer Ron Moquette. The son of Roman Ruler won a starter allowance at Churchill Downs last on Nov. 14 after being claimed for $30,000 at Delaware Park in his previous start.
• $100,000 Iron Horse for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles: Elena Arocha’s 3-year-old He’s Spectacular has gotten good at the right time for trainer Humberto Toledo and should be well-backed in this field of 14 with another on the ‘also-eligible’ list. A son of Alphabet Soup, He’s Spectaculer won three straight early in the fall at Calder, finished second in the Carl Rose Classic in November and fourth last out in the Fred Hooper Handicap (G3) last Saturday.