Dark Cove leaves the rest in the Elkhorn at Keeneland.

Dark Cove leaves the rest in the Elkhorn at Keeneland.

Coady Photography

Dark Cove Earns Ramseys Keeneland Gold Tray

Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Dark Cove won the Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland.

On a day he worried about his first love, wife Sarah, owner Ken Ramsey saw his second love, his horses, reach a milestone on closing day April 26 at Keeneland.

One day after Sarah Ramsey entered the University of Kentucky Hospital for complications from a stroke she suffered in 2007, the couple's Dark Cove charged to an upset victory in the $150,000 Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIT) at 1 1/2 miles on firm turf (VIDEO). The victory earned the Ramseys a gold tray, which goes to owners with eight graded stakes wins at Keeneland.

As Keeneland presented the gold tray to Ken Ramsey, he hugged jockey Joel Rosario, who has been aboard many of Ramsey's Keeneland meet record 25 winners at the spring meet including Dark Cove. Ramsey became emotional as he talked about what it meant to him to become the 18th owner to earn the tray and his regret that Sarah couldn't make the race.

"The low point about today is my wife had to be taken to the hospital yesterday," Ken Ramsey said after the win. "She's not doing that well but nothing life-threatening. That's the only sad part, that she's not able to be here with me. But this is almost like heaven."

Ramsey spent the morning with his wife and arrived late at the track Friday but in time to watch his entry finish one-two in the third race, a claiming event. He then went back to the hospital to spend time with Sarah before returning for the Elkhorn. He said Sarah is in serious but stable condition and, knowing they were close to the milestone, she encouraged him to attend the Elkhorn.

"She said, 'go on, go on,'" Ramsey related.

Before a crowd of 19,216, Dark Cove, off at odds of nearly 9-1, made Ken Ramsey's trip worthwhile as he stalked 5-2 favorite and early leader Ioya Bigtime through a half-mile in :52.32 and a mile in 1:41.90. In the final turn, Rosario asked for more from Dark Cove and the 6-year-old Medaglia d'Oro  horse responded, drawing off to a 4 1/4-length win in completing the race in 2:30.84.

Ioya Bigtime faded to finish ninth in the field of 11 older horses.

With the victory, the Ramseys doubled the previous record of 12 wins by an owner at a Keeneland spring meet. They then they added one more win in the meet's final race when Tuscan Treasure won that maiden claiming event. The Ramseys won the first two races of the meeting and the final two races.

"I can't believe we doubled the old record of 12," Ken Ramsey said after the Elkhorn win.

The Ramseys' claimed Dark Cove for $50,000 at last year's Keeneland spring meeting. Trained by Mike Maker, who set a Keeneland meet record for wins by a trainer with 25, Dark Cove entered the Elkhorn off wins in two claiming races on the turf at Gulfstream Park. Rosario, who also piloted Dark Cove in both Gulfstream starts, finished the meet with a spring meet record 38 wins.

Dark Cove returned $19.80 to win, $10.80 to place, and $6.80 to show. Longshot runner-up, Darley Stable's 23-1 Side Road, earned his first stakes placing and paid $21.20 and $12. Third-place finisher Sky Blazer, owned by Joyce Young and Gerald McManis, returned $7 to show.

Dark Cove was bred in Kentucky by Stonewall Farm. He is out of the Kris S. mare Crystal Cove.

Al Qasr finished fourth, followed by Reflecting, Pool Play, Al Khali , Macho Bull, Ioya Bigtime, and Helicopter. Forte Dei Marmi was pulled up early while trailing and vanned off the course.