Leading both the national rankings in terms of earnings and the current owner standings at Saratoga, Ken and Sarah Ramsey hardly need to rely on the intervention of positive karma to give their horses an added push in racing conditions these days.
There is ample reason to believe the Ramseys' 2-year-old filly Thank You Marylou — a stakes winner in her career debut — can acquit herself well enough on form alone when she makes her second career outing in Sunday's Grade II Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga. In the categories of sentiment and serendipity, the daughter of Birdstone could not have more going for her as she attempts to tackle an overwhelming favorite in the 61/2-furlong race.
Equine idols abound on Saturday with reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan going for a title defense in the Grade II Fourstardave at Saratoga and champion female sprinter Groupie Doll gracing Ellis Park's Grade III Gardenia in her seasonal bow. Given the inspiration behind her moniker, however, Thank You Marylou could rank among the weekend's most popular victors should she manage to triumph over 7-to-5 morning-line pick Fiftyshadesofgold and five others in the $200,000 Adirondack.
Thank You Marylou is named after Marylou Whitney, the unabashed queen of Saratoga. The fact this particular filly is by Whitney's stallion Birdstone was only a partial reason Ken Ramsey decided to honor one of Thoroughbred racing's great contributors and ambassadors.
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When Sarah Ramsey suffered a stroke in February 2007, Ken Ramsey reached out to Whitney's husband John Hendrickson for advice soon after, seeing as Whitney herself had suffered a stroke in 2006. Not only did the couple put Ken Ramsey in contact with the California-based doctor who was instrumental in Whitney's recovery, they offered in person support when Sarah Ramsey was transferred to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation in Lexington.
When the Ramseys' Grade I winner Stephanie's Kitten captured the Grade II Turf Mile Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 4, Whitney and Hendrickson came up to offer congratulations and inform Ken Ramsey they intended to breed one of their better mares to his stallion, Kitten's Joy. Not only did the ebullient Ramsey declare he was giving them a free season to his leading sire, he let them know the racing community would soon learn of the depth of his gratitude.
"At the time (when he called Hendrickson), she (Sarah Ramsey) was in a coma and they were only giving her a 47 percent chance for survival and that doctor might have made the difference because he did some things for her that the rest of them hadn't been doing," Ken Ramsey said Friday when reached in Saratoga, where Sarah Ramsey is also in attendance. "A little later on, they donated a half million to the new wing at Cardinal Hill and ... my wife was there at the time and they came to visit her.
"When Stephanie's Kitten won, they came up to congratulate us and that's also when I told her I had a good 2-year-old filly out of her stallion that we named Thank You Marylou. She didn't cry but she teared up a little bit. It really touched her."
With this being Saratoga's 150th anniversary season, Ramsey would love for Whitney also to be able to witness him reclaim the meet's owner's title away from three-time defending winner Mike Repole.
Heading into Friday's card, the Ramseys had eight wins — three more than their nearest challengers. Repole's colt Notacatbutallama won Friday's Grade III National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes to make sure his owner stays in the battle, but Ramsey is already plotting a potential run at Saratoga's meet record for owner wins.
"We're trying to keep up with the Repoles here, we've already got the Joneses beat," Ramsey laughed. "I said (to Repole) we're going to throw the gauntlet down and try and dethrone you. We're firing at them every day. The record up here is 18, we're trying to get 20."
Stephanie's Kittento be evaluated
Ramsey confirmed Friday that Stephanie's Kitten had arrived at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital where she will undergo a scan Monday for a possible hind-end issue. The daughter of Kitten's Joy was expected to be among the favorites for next weekend's Grade I Beverly D. at Arlington before coming up lame at Saratoga this week.
"Hopefully we'll find out what the problem is and it's not too serious," Ramsey said.