Sarah Ramsey, who bred and raced multiple Breeders’ Cup champions with her husband Ken and won the 510 race at Churchill Downs, has died. She was 83 years old.
He died Sunday at his home in Nicholsville, Kentucky, according to Churchill spokesman Darren Rogers, as informed by Ken Ramsey. No cause of death was given.
Churchill Downs President Mike Anderson said Monday night: “It is with great sadness that we are reporting the passing of Sarah Katherine Ramsey.” “Our hearts are with Ken and his entire family during this very difficult time. She lived a wonderful life, and we will miss her smiling face in the Churchill Downs winning troupe.”
In 2007, Ramsey suffered a major stroke that affected his speech and left his right side paralyzed. She used to use a wheelchair to join the race.
The couple made their fortune through investments in radios and cell phones. He owned cellphone tower businesses in five states, including Kentucky, one of which he sold in 1994 for $39 million and used the money to buy his 1,200-acre farm.
His most famous horse was kitten Joey, who won nine starts in 14 careers and earned $2 million. The couple used “kitten” for many of their domestic horses, which is the nickname Sarah was given to them by Ken when they were dating in 1954.
He named his horses after members of the family, and honored late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel with a horse named Bobby’s Kitten and fellow breeder and owner Maryloe Whitney with a horse named Thank You Marilo.
Perry Martin, who co-owned 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome, poked fun at Ramsey by not naming a kitten.
According to Equibase, the couple’s 2,241 winners and career purses totaled more than $98 million. He has won four Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Owners and two for Outstanding Breeders, and has led North American owners by earning purses in 2013 and 2014.
The pair competed continuously in the Breeders’ Cup, starting 44 horses at the World Championships. He won four times, most recently in 2015 with Stephanie’s Kittens in Philly and Mare Turf.
Although Ramsay was the dominant owner at Churchill Downs 32 times, his success did not translate into the Kentucky Derby, where he was 0 for 7. His best performance was in 2003 when Ten Cents a Shine finished eighth.
The doubles’ sole starter in the Belmont Stakes was in 2005, when Nolan’s cat finished third.
Born in Artemus, Kentucky, she was the daughter of a coal miner. She graduated from Union College and married Kane in 1958. He helped them manage their various enterprises.
Ramsey is survived by Kane and their children Kelly, Jeff, Jill and Scott.
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