Ken Ramsey

Ken Ramsey

Anne M. Eberhardt

Ramseys Drop Effort to Have Claim Voided

North America's leading owners sought to have $40,000 claim voided.

Ken Ramsey, who along with his wife Sarah operate the most successful racing stable in North America this year, says the couple is dropping efforts to have a claim of one of their horses voided by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

The sequence of events that eventually led to the KHRC upholding a hearing officer's recommendation that the Ramseys' appeal of the claim should not be allowed began June 23 when trainer Greg Foley claimed the filly Blues and Silvers for $40,000 on behalf of Robert Bones and Jim Robinson after winning a race at Churchill Downs.

A 4-year-old daughter of Eurosilver, Blues and Silvers had been claimed by trainer Mike Maker and the Ramseys for $15,000 during a winning effort at Gulfstream Park in March.

For the Ramseys and Maker, the filly had two wins and a second before being claimed by Foley. She has subsequently added two more wins and two thirds to her resume while competing in California and now has a record of 10 wins and four placings in 16 starts, with earnings of $223,620.

Following the June 23 race, Ken Ramsey looked at the claim slip submitted on behalf of the new connections of Blues and Silvers. He said the submitted claim slip was incomplete and should not have been allowed by stewards.

Maker filed protest of the claim on Friday, June 28, contending that the claim should have been voided because the claim slip did not include the race number or sales tax that would be applied to the claim.

The protest was disallowed by stewards based on a determination it was not filed within the 48-hour window allowed for such appeals after a claim has taken place.

In an administrative action filed by attorney J.D. Raine on behalf of the Ramseys, the owners contended that the claim should have been voided outright since it did not comply with a regulation that states the claim blank must be filled out "completely and accurately."

But they also contend that because Churchill Downs was dark on Monday and Tuesday, June 24-25, the applicable 48-hour window did not begin until the stewards' office was open again in conjunction with live racing June 26. Thus, according to Ramsey, the June 28 filing was within the time frame allowed.

At the Oct. 22 KHRC meeting, the regulatory body upheld a recommendation of hearing officer Mike Wilson, who determined the Rameys' appeal was not filed in a timely basis and should be disallowed.

"The regulation does not suspend running of the time during 'dark days' when there is no racing, or holidays, or days when the stewards are not in their office," Wilson wrote.

At the meeting, acting chief steward Barbara Borden acknowledged that the incomplete claim entry should have been voided but was not due to "human error."

Although a claimer like Blues and Silvers was not the most prominent horse in a stable that has won 17 graded stakes this year and earned more than $11.6 million in purses, Ken Ramsey said the filly was a good runner and he wanted to eventually add her to his broodmare band.

"This was a very good broodmare prospect," Ramsey said. "I was trying for an owner's title (at the Churchill meet) and maybe dropped her in for a little bit less than I should have. But I have played the claiming game and don't mind when a horse is claimed off me. That's the way the game works. But it should be done properly."

Ramsey said he subsequently has entered a claim for a horse in Kentucky, intentionally omitting the sales tax and race number information to test the system. He said the claim was rightly voided.

Having lost their appeal to the KHRC, the next step for the Ramseys would have been to file a motion in Franklin Circuit Court. Although he is disappointed in the outcome, Ramsey said he is not willing to spend an estimated $10,000-$15,000 in additional legal fees to continue to fight the case.

"They usually uphold the stewards anyway," he said. "I thought it was a no-brainer when I showed them the form was not filled out properly. Now we lose this on a technicality and it took them three to four months to go through the whole thing.

"I am moving on and putting it behind me but I am not forgetting about it."