Oscar Nominated was bred by Mrs. Jerry Amerman and raised at Mill Ridge Farm near Lexington, Kentucky.

With a name like Oscar Nominated, you’d expect him to be handsome, and so he is.

“We liked him all along, and the Amermans liked him all along,” recalled Mill Ridge’s managing partner, Headley Bell.

“He is a very, very handsome colt.”

But Oscar Nominated wasn’t just a pretty face. He also showed leadership, and a good-natured willingness to mix it up.

“He kind of ruled the roost of that particular field,” Bell said.

“He’s a good-sized colt, always strong, physical, likes to play. Everything you could want.”

Mrs. Amerman was enrapt by Oscar Nominated too.

“I think the thing that struck me most about him was he was just drop-dead gorgeous as a baby,” she noted. “He had a lot of presence.”

Oscar Nominated’s name alludes to his dam, Devine Actress, a “beautiful mare” herself who had a “lot of natural talent.”

Devine Actress raced only six times, winning three and finishing second twice. Unfortunately, after earning her first stakes victory at Santa Anita in 2010, she sustained an injury and was retired to the broodmare life. There lingers a sense of what-might-have-been.

“I know someone who thinks she could have beaten Zenyatta!” Amerman added, chuckling about it as a hypothetical.

Since Oscar Nominated was such a striking baby, Devine Actress was bred right back to his sire, Kitten’s Joy. That reunion produced a “very nice” full brother, named Oscar Performance, who is now a 2-year-old in training with Brian Lynch. He’s posted his first two works, both “bullets” (the fastest time of the morning at the distance) on the dirt at Palm Meadows. His connections are patient, so baby brother will be given plenty of time before making his career debut.

But as the twists and turns of racing would have it, Amerman no longer owns Oscar Nominated. After finishing fourth in his first two starts, he was entered in a claiming race, where other owners and trainers can buy him for the stated price. The good news was that Oscar Nominated won easily. The bad news was that he was claimed for $75,000 by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

The Ramseys bred and raced his sire Kitten’s Joy, a champion turf horse who stands at the family farm. So you could say that he’s transferred from his dam’s connections to his sire’s.

Ken Ramsey is ever eager to shine the spotlight on Kitten’s Joy, now a leading sire with a number of high-class turf performers to his credit. Oscar Nominated has so far fit that pattern, having prospered on turf and earned his Kentucky Derby (G1) points in the Spiral (G3) on Turfway’s synthetic surface. Giving Oscar Nominated a chance in the Derby, even though he’s yet to race on dirt, is entirely in keeping with Ramsey’s nothing ventured, nothing gained approach.

Had Oscar Nominated remained with his original trainer, Hall of Famer Bill Mott, he wouldn’t have pursued the Derby trail at all. Turf always appeared to be his natural calling, and whatever happens on Saturday, it still figures to be in Oscar Nominated’s future.

“I hated to lose him,” Amerman said. “I really thought he was going to be something special on turf.”

Yet despite that disappointment, she remains the soul of gracious sportsmanship.

“More power to the Ramseys,” Amerman said. “They took a chance, and it paid off.”

Foal photo by Joy Gilbert.

Yearling photo courtesy of Kim Poulin.