There was a time when Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Shining Copper did the grunt work for a two-horse team.
The Ramseys claimed the Aragorn (IRE) gelding for $62,500 in May of 2015, then sent him out to the lead on multiple occasions in grade 1 events to lay down a sizzling pace for 2015 champion grass horse Big Blue Kitten .
After setting the scene for his stablemate's victorious closing efforts, eventual Eclipse Award glory, and retirement to stud at Calumet Farm, now 8-year-old Shining Copper has carried on to earn graded accolades of his own. The latest, a Jan. 13 score in the $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2T) at Gulfstream Park, set him up for a trip to compete in the March 3 Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup.
The Ft. Lauderdale was supposed to go to Heart to Heart, the multiple graded stakes winner and grade 1-placed son of English Channel . Bettors expected a quick pace, as Heart to Heart and Shining Copper both have one style—to go straight to the front—and they sent the former off as the 3-5 favorite in an eight-horse field.
But when Heart to Heart hopped at the start, it was Shining Copper who got the lead free and clear. Setting easy opening fractions of :24.43 and :48.52 under Jose Ortiz, the chestnut runner was unchallenged early in the 1 1/16-mile turf test. Although Irad Ortiz Jr. got Heart to Heart to the outside and as close as fourth after checking in traffic early, the favorite faded after three-quarters went in 1:12.33.
Shining Copper held the advantage off the turn for home, then had to contend with the challenge of 30-1 shot One Go All Go, who ranged up at the eighth pole and engaged the leader in a fierce stretch duel through a 1:36.96 mile. But Shining Copper refused to be denied, and used the final furlong to surge back on the inside.
"You don't get that old without having a heart and trying hard," trainer Mike Maker said. "He's just a tough old dude. He loves to run. He's an unbelievably smart horse."
The final time was 1:43.44 on a turf course rated good. Shining Copper returned $12.40, $6.40, and $3.80 at odds of 5-1, while One Go All Go paid $17 and $6.80. All Included finished third by two lengths, and was worth $3.20 at 3-1 odds. The order of finish was completed by Team Colors, Shakhimat, Diamond Bachelor, Heart to Heart, and Summer Causeway. Main-track-only entrant Beneficiary was scratched.
The Ft. Lauderdale was Shining Copper's second straight graded stakes score, following the Nov. 23 River City Handicap (G3T) at Churchill Downs. He won the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Lure Stakes at Saratoga Race Course with Jose Ortiz aboard, and earlier that year missed taking home his own top-level victory when Lukes Alley beat him by a neck in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1T).
"My horse broke really sharp and clean. ... I saw (Heart to Heart) missed the break so I decided to go on," Jose Ortiz said. "My horse always fights hard. When I won on him in Saratoga he fought really hard, too, so I knew he would when (One Go All Go) came to me. But I think that horse hung a little bit when he made the lead, too.
"I was going easy enough early on that it didn't surprise me at all that somebody was going to push me a little bit. I managed to go a decent half for him and I'm glad he came back and had the victory for the Ramseys."
Ken and Sarah Ramsey have won the Barbados Gold Cup twice, with Major Marvel in 2014 and Sayler's Creek in 2015. In 2016 their colors were carried to a second-place finish by Watchyourownbobber, and they wound up second again in 2017 with High Noon Rider, while their Keystoneforvictory came in third.
"He'll run in Barbados. We have two wins and two seconds the last four years," Maker said. He'll be pretty tough to handle. They have very tight turns and you need to be forwardly placed, and he fits the bill."
Shining Copper was bred in Kentucky by International Equities Holding out of the Winged Victory mare La Minuta (CHI). He improved his earnings to $817,449, with a 9-4-7 record from 32 starts.