"Derby headquarters here!" exclaimed Ken Ramsey as he answered the phone minutes after finding out his Lexington S. (G3) winner DERBY KITTEN (Kitten's Joy) secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby 137 starting gate. Derby Kitten moved from No. 21 to No. 20 on the all-important graded stakes earnings list with the defection of Wood Memorial (G1) winner Toby's Corner (Bellamy Road).
The gregarious Kentucky owner could not contain his enthusiasm for making it back to his home state's signature event for the second year in a row.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic and I can't sit down," he said. "To have two sons of Kitten's Joy in the Kentucky Derby two years in a row after Dean's Kitten last year, that's just fantastic. That's enormous for my stallion Kitten's Joy, who stands on my farm."
For Derby Kitten, the name says it all for Ramsey.
"I've got hundreds of horses with Kitten in their name," he said. "Former (Kentucky) governor Brereton Jones told me that if you're going to breed horses to your own stallion, use the stallion's name so people remember who he is. Kitten's Joy is making quite a name for himself.
"I'll tell you this much, of all the trainers in this year's Kentucky Derby, Mike Maker has the two most appropriately named horses of them all, TWINSPIRED (Harlan's Holiday) and Derby Kitten," Ramsey said. "Are you kidding me? It doesn't get better than that. All you need is something with 'rose' in it and then you've got it all."
Derby Kitten is a full-brother to William's Kitten, a promising two-year-old of 2009 who was sidetracked by injury en route to last year's Kentucky Derby. Ramsey said Derby Kitten got his name because they thought he could follow in William's Kitten's footsteps as a big-time prospect.
Ramsey is widely known as a big bettor in Kentucky and is not shy about going to the windows. He joked about a recent story he read surrounding the owner of UNCLE MO (Indian Charlie).
"I heard Mike Repole was going to bet enough to make Uncle Mo the Derby favorite," Ramsey said. "That's good news for us; for every million he puts on Uncle Mo, that makes Derby Kitten 40-1 instead of 30-1. And I'm doing a rain dance. My horse loves the soup and slop."
When asked if Ramsey had planned to wage a personal wagering war to make Derby Kitten the favorite, he laughed and said, "I read somewhere in the paper that Mike Repole sold Vitamin Water for $3.2 billion. I'll just say that for every million I've got, he's got a billion. That being said I'll let him have the honor of being the Derby favorite this time!"
Both Twinspired and Derby Kitten galloped a mile and a quarter over the sloppy track at Trackside Training Center Tuesday morning. The duo then vanned across town at approximately 11 a.m. to bed down at Barn 41, where they will complete their Derby preparations. Neither horse has previously been stabled at Churchill Downs, Maker said.