Top thoroughbred breeder and owner Sarah Ramsey dies at 83

She and her husband Ken had 2,241 winners and career purse earnings of over $98 million, according to Equibase. They won four Eclipse Awards as for outstanding owners and two for outstanding breeders, and led North America owners by purse earnings in 2013 and 2014.

SHARE Top thoroughbred breeder and owner Sarah Ramsey dies at 83
Sarah Ramsey, pictured with husband Ken, has died at age 83. The Ramseys were leading thoroughbred breeders and owners.

Sarah Ramsey, pictured with husband Ken, has died at age 83. The Ramseys were leading thoroughbred breeders and owners.

Garry Jones/AP

Sarah Ramsey, who along with her husband Ken bred and raced multiple Breeders’ Cup champions and won a leading 510 races at Churchill Downs, has died. She was 83.

She died Sunday at her home in Nicholasville, Kentucky, according to Churchill spokesman Darren Rogers, who was informed by Ken Ramsey. No cause of death was provided.

“It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Sarah Kathern Ramsey,” Churchill Downs president Mike Anderson said Monday night. “Our hearts are with Ken and his entire family during this very difficult time. She lived a wonderful life, and we’ll miss her smiling face in the Churchill Downs winner’s circle.”

Ramsey had a major stroke in 2007, which affected her speech and paralyzed her right side. She used a wheelchair to attend the races.

The couple built their fortune through investments in radio and cellphones. They owned cellphone tower businesses in five states, including Kentucky, one of which they sold for $39 million in 1994 and used the money to buy their 1,200-acre farm.

Their best-known horse was Kitten’s Joy, who had nine wins in 14 career starts and earnings of $2 million. The couple used “Kitten” for many of their homebred horses, which was Sarah’s nickname given to her by Ken when they were dating in 1954.

They also named their horses after family members, and honored the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel with a horse named Bobby’s Kitten and fellow breeder and owner Marylou Whitney with a horse named Thank You Marylou.

Perry Martin, who co-owned 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome, poked fun at the Ramseys by naming a filly Not a Kitten.

The couple had 2,241 winners and career purse earnings of over $98 million, according to Equibase. They won four Eclipse Awards as for outstanding owners and two for outstanding breeders, and led North America owners by purse earnings in 2013 and 2014.

The couple were frequent participants in the Breeders’ Cup, starting 44 horses in the world championships. They won four times, most recently in 2015 with Stephanie’s Kitten in the Filly & Mare Turf.

Although the Ramseys were the leading owner a record 32 times at Churchill Downs, their success didn’t translate to the Kentucky Derby, where they were 0 for 7. Their best finish was in 2003 when Ten Cents A Shine was eighth.

The couple’s only starter in the Belmont Stakes was in 2005, when Nolan’s Cat finished third.

Born Artemus, Kentucky, she was the daughter of a coal miner. She graduated from Union College and married Ken in 1958. She helped him manage their various enterprises.

Ramsey is survived by Ken and their children Kelly, Jeff, Jill and Scott.

The Latest
Morel hit a two-run homer in the victory against the Reds on Wednesday after Cubs manager David Ross moved him to the bottom of the batting order.
It’s unclear if Griffin will continue his heavy spending in Illinois politics after he and his Citadel hedge fund have packed up and left for Miami. But what was obvious was that his latest big bet on elections in this state was a big failure, up and down the ballot.
Rubber game of series “important for us going into the day off, going to San Francisco,” manager Tony La Russa said.
The brothers, all under the age of 12, were stuck in a basement apartment Sunday as it went up in flames.