Friday's opening day of the Keeneland Fall meet featured one of the rarest of events in Thoroughbred racing this year: an 0-for-6 outing for Nicholasville-based owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Less than 24 hours later, however, the operation that has already won six meet titles in 2013 restored some dominance in Saturday's Grade I Dixiana Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland when the Ramseys' We Miss Artie advanced between rivals and rallied on the extreme outside in the stretch to win the 11⁄16-mile test by 23/4 lengths.
The Breeders' Futurity was one four graded stakes on the undercard of the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile Saturday.
The betting public might be kicking itself in hindsight for letting a Ramsey-owned, Todd Pletcher-trained, John Velazquez-ridden contender go off at odds of 9-to-1 in a graded stakes. Granted, We Miss Artie didn't dazzle while running sixth in the Grade II With Anticipation on the Saratoga turf Aug. 29 but Ramsey said Pletcher told him to draw a line through that effort.
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"Something happened to him in the paddock and he got real washed out that time," Ramsey said. "Todd said 'I'm telling you this horse is a contender, forget the odds.' They kicked us out of the winner's circle (Friday) but we earned our way in today."
A son of Artie Schiller, We Miss Artie had to grow up quickly in his fourth career start, getting shuffled back early after having to steady around the first turn. Though the dark bay colt did run second on the dirt when he made his career debut at Belmont Park on July 4, Ramsey said he was uncertain whether he would send the colt to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile or Juvenile Turf.
"We may find out if he likes dirt because I'm not going to put a half dozen of them in the (Juvenile Turf)," Ramsey said.
Smarty's Echo got up for second with Arctic Slope third. Final time was 1:46.91.
Better Lucky battles
This time, Better Lucky got the best of Dayatthespa fair and square.
A thrilling stretch run between a couple of budding rivals ended up in Better Lucky's favor once more when she held off late Dayatthespa to win the Grade I, $400,000 First Lady Stakes by a head.
The victory was the first for Godolphin's Better Lucky since she won the Grade I Matriarch at Hollywood Park last November, the same race in which favorite Dayatthespa injured herself trying to jump the inside rail.
Both 4-year-old fillies were on point Saturday over a yielding turf course, with Better Lucky sweeping four wide through the final turn and battling Dayatthespa in the final furlong before prevailing in a final time of 1:39.78 for the one-mile test.
"She's never been far out of it any of her times and in these turf races, sometimes the seams open and sometimes they don't," said Jimmy Bell, president of Darley America. "She finished full of run."
Judy the Beauty pulls upset
Defending race winner and champion female sprinter Groupie Doll suffered her second upset loss this year when Wesley Ward's Judy the Beauty broke through for her first graded stakes score with a win in the Grade II, $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes.
Groupie Doll engaged the leaders early. Sitting in third then second while traveling three wide, Judy the Beauty launched her own kick with a five-wide sweep and came home one length clear of runner up Gypsy Robin with Groupie Doll third.
Despite suffering her second loss in her three starts this year, trainer/co-owner Buff Bradley says Groupie Doll remains set to attempt a title defense in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in November.
"I don't think this is her best surface or her best distance," Bradley said. "She was ready for this race as much as she could be but I'm looking forward to the Breeders' Cup and I'm still pretty high on her. She ran hard today."