It was a rare sight at Keeneland on Thursday when a horse owned by Ken Ramsey got to the winner's circle without the family patriarch at the bridle leading the way.
A board meeting may have kept the ebullient Ramsey from his beloved post-race routine. But Kindergarden Kid's triumph in the Grade III, $100,000 Sycamore Stakes helped guarantee his owner will keep his schedule open next time there is Keeneland graded-stakes glory to be had.
In a battle of Dynaformer offspring, the 5-year-old Kindergarden Kid rallied to nail pacesetter Ioya Bigtime at the line to win the 11/2-mile turf test by a neck over a field of veteran marathoners.
The sentimental and betting favorite was Musketier, a 10-year-old multiple graded stakes winner who was making his 50th and probably final career start. But Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker continued their dominance in the meet in front of a crowd of 9,601.
Claimed by Ramsey at Saratoga in August for $50,000, Kindergarden Kid hit the board in both the Grade III Kentucky Turf Cup and Grade I Turf Classic Invitational in his first two starts for his new connections before winning his first graded stakes in the Sycamore.
The victory also marked the seventh graded stakes win at Keeneland for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, putting the Nicholasville-based owners one graded score away from earning a Keeneland gold tray.
"Obviously, (Kindergarden Kid) had a lot of back class and horses at that level are kind of hard to place in the right races," Maker said. "It's nice to take a shot on a horse like this."
Ioya Bigtime has used front-running tactics to great success lately, winning the Grade III Stars and Stripes and most recently the Kentucky Turf Cup for owners Team Block.
The 5-year-old son of Dynaformer nearly added to that pile of wins as he loped along by open lengths through fractions of :49.88 and 1:14.48 with Kindergarten Kid tracking next to last in the seven-horse field.
Facing pressure in midstretch, Ioya Bigtime was able to repulse a challenge by eventual third-place runner Miami Deco to his outside. By then, jockey Julien Leparoux was guiding a fast-closing Kindergarden Kid between the previous two, stopping the clock in 2:31.80 over a firm course.
"(Ken Ramsey) really wants to win the Melbourne Cup (in Australia) so the thinking with this horse is maybe two years down the road or even next year's Melbourne Cup," said Mark Partridge, manager of Ramsey Farm.
Musketier trailed throughout and finished last.
"He didn't give me anything today," jockey John Velazquez said.
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.