Derby Contenders

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Mike Maker


Maker, the son of a trainer, grew up in the suburbs of Detroit attending races at Hazel Park and Detroit Race Course. At the young age of 13, Maker was already involved in the Thoroughbred industry as a horse owner. He was an assistant for Hall of Fame trainer D Wayne Lukas and worked with Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic. Maker opened his own stable in 2003 & has trained top horses including: Eclipse Award winner, Hansen, Derby Kitten and Stately Victor.

Javier Castellano


Castellano began his riding career in 1996 in his native country of Venezuela. In 1997 he came to the United States to ride and had his first winner at Calder that same year. He scored his biggest victories with Ghostzapper in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic and Bernardini in the 2006 Preakness. Other top horses include Union Rags, Stay Thirsty, Hilda's Passion, Red Rocks, and Telling.

Ken & Sarah Ramsey


Ken and Sarah Ramsey are natives of Artemus, Kentucky and are longtime horse lovers. Ken’s first glimpse of the Twin Spires came at age 5 when his family took a trip to Louisville and since that day he has always wanted to win the Kentucky Derby. The Ramsey’s have won numerous owners titles at racetracks across the country and have owned such stakes winners as Kitten’s Joy, Roses in May, Precious Kitten, and Pleasant Prince.

  • ©Keeneland/Coady Photography

  • ©Keeneland/Coady Photography

  • ©Keeneland/Coady Photography

  • ©Keeneland/Coady Photography


Kitten's Joy--Blush, by Menifee

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Bred by his owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Derby Kitten has plenty of stamina in his pedigree, but has yet to prove if he's as effective on dirt.

He is from the second crop of the Ramseys' homebred Kitten's Joy, the champion turf horse of 2004, who captured the 1 1/2-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1) and the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat S. (G1) and Virginia Derby (G3).

Kitten's Joy sired a couple of classic hopefuls in his first crop. Grade 2-placed stakes winner William's Kitten, a full brother to Derby Kitten, was knocked off the Derby trail by injury after his third-place effort in the 2010 Holy Bull S. (G3). Dean's Kitten, a Grade 2 winner on Polytrack, lined up in the Kentucky Derby (G1), but was unable to transfer his synthetic form to dirt and wound up 14th in the Run for the Roses. 

Derby Kitten is the second foal from his dam Blush, a three-time winner at sprint distances. Her first, William's Kitten, was accomplished at 1 1/16 miles as a juvenile, romping in the Sunday Silence S. and finishing second to eventual Derby star Super Saver in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2).

Blush is by multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Menifee, who was a close second to Charismatic in the 1999 Kentucky Derby. Hero of that year's Haskell Invitational (G1) and Blue Grass S. (G1), he also finished second in the Preakness S. (G1) and Super Derby (G1) and third in the Travers S. (G1).

Menifee's leading earners have been fillies. Several excelled in sprints, including Princess Rooney H. (G1) winner Game Face, Forward Gal S. (G2) queen Letgomyecho and Miss Preakness S. (G3) scorer Burnish. Others have handled a route of ground, such as Just Jenda, who capped her career with a smashing score in the 1 1/16-mile Molly Pitcher S. (G2); Taittinger Rose, victress of the 1 1/8-mile Sabin H. (G3); and Grade 3 winner Wow Me Free, who stayed 1 1/4 miles to land the Ladies H.

Besides the full-sibling duo of Derby Kitten and William's Kitten, another notable performer out of a Menifee mare is Pocahontas S. (G2) romper Dancinginherdreams, a one-time Kentucky Oaks (G1) aspirant.

Derby Kitten's third dam in the direct female line of descent, Cherry Jubilee, earned her signature victory in the Next Move H. (G3), then contested over 1 3/16 miles. She was in turn a half-sister to Willow Hour, upset winner of the 1981 Travers. 

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