Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 12:32 pm |
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By Perry Lefko

Trainer Mike Maker is planning to run a string of horses at Woodbine for the first time in 2018, and his principal owner Ken Ramsey is hoping it results in another Queen’s Plate victory.

Maker plans to stable about 20-25 horses, about a third of them owned by Ramsey and his wife, Sarah, at Woodbine. The trio celebrated a win in the 2016 Queen’s Plate with Sir Dudley Digges (Gio Ponti), who was victorious in the recent Barbados Gold Cup with stablemate Shining Copper (Aragorn {Ire}) second. It was the third win in the race for the Ramseys, who also have two seconds.

Many of the horses that will be shipped are Canadian-breds. The Ramseys have four horses eligible for the Plate, the top one being Hemp Hemp Hurray (Artie Schiller), trained by Wesley Ward and listed at 25-1 in the Queen’s Plate theoretical winterbook odds. Ward will train the horse in the U.S. and ship to Canada for the Plate.

Maker trainee Queen’s Fate (Artie Schiller), owned by Maxis Stable, is being pointed to the Woodbine Oaks.

“We’ve had some good luck [at Woodbine] the last couple of years and I felt rather than ship every couple weeks with a horse I figured I might as well stay with some horses there and hopefully pick us some business with some Canadian clients and so forth,” Maker said. “Our stable is unbalanced as far as grass horses and poly [synthetic] horses go, so I figured it would be a good fit.”

Ken Ramsey said when Maker approached him about his plan to run a string at Woodbine, he supported the move, thinking Sir Dudley Digges would likely have a shot to win a stakes or two.

“I’ve got a whole lot of horses by my sire Kitten’s Joy and they run really well on the synthetic surface and they also run well on the turf course, so I think the Kitten’s Joys will run well at Woodbine,” Ramsey said. “I enjoy trying to win on an international basis. We’ve on races in [many countries]. To me, it’s a challenge to go up and try to win the Queen’s Plate and [GI] E.P. Taylor and whatever they have up there that would be a challenge for us. Mike wants to go, so I threw my hat in and said I’ll be glad to send some horses with him.”

In addition to Sir Dudley Digges, the Ramseys and Maker have had some success in other prominent Canadian races. They won the 2016 E.P. Taylor with Al’s Gal (English Channel) and finished second last year in the race with Kitten’s Roar (Kitten’s Joy). They also placed second in the GI Pattison Canadian International S. with Oscar Nominated (Kitten’s Joy).

The Ramseys placed fourth in the 2014 Plate with We Miss Artie (Artie Schiller), the pre-race favorite who was done in by a poor start. We Miss Artie stood in Canada as a stallion for a time and is now based at the Ramseys’ farm in Kentucky.

“We enjoy winning a race like the Queen’s Plate,” he said. “They treated me well when I won it. I got to go in the room where [Queen’s Elizabeth II] goes when she attends the races up there. I got to say a few thousand words about E.P. Taylor and Northern Dancer because the Northern Dancer mares fit really well with Kitten’s Joy, so we’ve had great success with that nick.

“I probably don’t have the horse to [win] this year, but we’re going up there to give it a try. I’ve been looking to buy a few yearlings or 2-year-olds in training, so I always check the Canadian-breds to see if I could pick one to get the job done for me the second time.”

The horses are expected to be shipped in the next few weeks. Woodbine’s season opens April 21.

Maker’s assistant, Nolan Ramsey, grandson of Ken and Sarah, will oversee the Woodbine division. Maker has about a handful of divisions running at the same time at different tracks from his overall stable of 150 horses.

Ramsey said he had a secondary reason to support Maker’s plan. Nolan Ramsey is engaged to former rider, Katie Clawson, who was runnerup for the 2017 Eclipse Award for Apprentice Jockey. She had to retire from racing because of concussion issues.

“They’re going to be up the entire meet, so I’ve got to support them a little bit,” he said.


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