Kentucky-based owner Ken Ramsey was suspended seven days and received a $25,000 fine from the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority for attempting to improperly influence another owner to scratch a horse from a Dec. 31 race at Turfway Park.
The settlement was negotiated between representatives of the Authority and Ramsey's attorney Burr Travis.
Ramsey's case was brought to the Turfway stewards' attention by owner-trainer Barbara Conner, who said she was approached by Ramsey and was offered money to scratch her horse Mamaroni from the first race, a $7,500 maiden claimer, to allow Ramsey's horse, Ken's Cat, to draw into the body of the race from the also-eligible list. The amount of money involved was not disclosed by the Authority.
Mamaroni was not scratched, but Ken's Cat did draw into the race following additional scratches. The stewards later scratched Ken's Cat after information regarding the incident was brought to light.
Bill Street, chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, said there was evidence of more than one person being asked to scratch from the race, but there was no evidence that the additional two scratches from the race were related to Ramsey.
"The matter is closed in the eyes of the Authority," Street said. "I thought given the speed of the settlement and given the facts as we knew them, I thought the penalty was appropriate."
Authority vice-chairman Connie Whitfield voted against the penalty. "I was pushing for more stringent terms," Whitfield said following Monday's Authority meeting. "I think the recent indictments in New York present a background that enables the commission to be tougher on certain activities and while a case can be made that the settlement provides for a tough fine and suspension, I am a former litigator so I tend to go for the jugular."
Ramsey's fine equals the highest ever levied by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority or any of its predecessors. In 2002, the former Kentucky Racing Commission fined owner Dr. Joseph Kutz $25,000 and suspended him 30 days for adding Prozac to a vitamin supplement given to his horse, Explodo Red, at Turfway Park.
Ken Ramsey, and his wife, Sarah, is one of three finalists for an Eclipse Award as outstanding owner of 2004.