Kitten's First: The Cornerstone of the Ramseys' Racing Empire

Johnny V celebrates another victory for the Ramseys while aboard Stephanie's Kitten - Matthew Stockman

While the claim of Catenius for $50,000 is really the beginning of an era of Ramsey Cats, Kitten's First is the cornerstone of the clutch of Kittens that currently are running amok on America's tracks.

Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey have enjoyed success on the track that is envied by any owner whose title doesn't begin with "His Royal Highness" the world over. They're relatively new to the scene though, well new insofar as not having the surname of Phipps, DuPont, or Hancock.

With more owner's titles at Kentucky tracks than I care to list here, there is no doubt that the Ken and Sarah Ramsey are one of the dominant forces of Kentucky Racing. Headlined by Grass Champion Kitten's Joy (now standing at Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville, KY), their stable includes Stephanie's Kitten (G2- BC Juvenile Fillies Turf), Kitten's Holiday (G2- Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes), Furthest Land (G1- BC Dirt Mile), and numerous others.

But the most amazing horse of all was a 2 year old in training bought in 1993 and named Kitten's First.

"We bought two horses," Ramsey said, "and she was Sarah’s." Sarah’s middle name is Kathern, and when they were dating—Ramsey proudly states, "We’ve been married for 51 years"—Ramsey called her "Kitten." "It was Sarah’s first horse, so we named her Kitten’s First."

What's so special about a mare by Lear Fan out of a L'Enjoleur broodmare? Well, frankly, this:

Horse

Sex

Year

Sire

Record

Earnings

JUSTENUFFHEART (USA)

M

1995

BROAD BRUSH

27-8-3-6

$373,229

KITTENS JOY (USA)

H

2001

EL PRADO2

14-9-4-0

$2,075,791

LAST KITTEN (USA)

M

2004

CATIENUS

3-0-0-0

$330

PRECIOUS KITTEN (USA)

F

2003

CATIENUS

25-8-10-1

$1,912,543

STRIKING IMAGE (USA)

M

1999

RED RANSOM

?-?-?-?

Unraced

WORLDLY TREASURE (USA)

G

1997

GHAZI

37-5-4-1

$51,695

Then Justenuffheart does this:

Horse

Sex

Year

Sire

Record

Earnings

CROWNED HEART

C

2011

DISTORTED HUMOR

?-?-?-?

DESERT SONG (USA)

F

2006

UNBRIDLEDS SONG

2-0-0-0

$3,280

DREAMING OF ANNA (USA)

F

2004

RAHY

17-10-3-1

$2,024,550

HEARTY LAUGH (USA)

F

2010

DISTORTED HUMOR

?-?-?-?

JUSTENUFFHUMOR (USA)

C

2005

DISTORTED HUMOR

12-6-0-1

$533,900

JUSTENUFFTIME (USA)

F

2007

GIANTS CAUSEWAY

0-0-0-0

Unraced

LAST CAT (USA)

C

2008

STORM CAT

5-M-0-0

$4,405

LEWIS MICHAEL (USA)

C

2003

RAHY

23-7-6-2

$811,714

LINNEA CAL (USA)

M

2002

CRAFTY PROSPECTOR

?-?-?-?

Unraced

And Striking Image does this:

Horse

Sex

Year

Sire

Record

Earnings

RULES OF HONOR (CAN)

G

2007

CATIENUS

12-4-0-1

$107,691

SELF MADE MAN (USA)

G

2004

CATIENUS

53-10-9-9

$300,294

SITUATION ROOM (USA)

F

2006

NORTHERN AFLEET

0-0-0-0

Unraced

VIBRATION (USA)

F

2005

CATIENUS

5-0-0-1

$2,964

So, from the immediate family/influence of First Kitten you end up with the following horses:

  1. Kitten's Joy: Champion Grass horse of 2004; sire
  2. Precious Kitten: G1-John C. Mabee Handicap; G1-Matriarch Stakes; G1-Gamely Stakes; G1-Mrs. Revere; G2-Palomar Handicap; G3-Gallorette Handicap (Probably missed a few)
  3. Justenuffheart: Listed Stakes winner, G3-Placed; producer
  4. Dreaming of Anna: Winner of G1-BC Juvenile Fillies; G3-Summer Stakes; G3-Pucker Up Stakes; G3-Endeavour Stakes; G3-Hillborough Stakes; G3-Early Times Mint Julep Handicap
  5. Lewis Michael: G2-Washington Park Handicap; G2-Pat O'Brien Handicap; sire
  6. Justenuffhumor: G2-Fourstardave Handicap; G2-Bernard Baruch Handicap; sire
  7. Self Made Man: Listed Stakes Winner

Not all of these horses were bred by the Ramseys, nor were they all raced in the Ramsey silks, but the level of success from the offspring of First Kitten is unreal. When you have a mare as potent as First Kitten, it's no wonder you are able to fill a stable with a thousand kittens.

The second half to the story is that the Ramseys have doubled down on Kitten's Joy in their breeding program. They already owned a world-class number of broodmares, and they committed immediately to him. That is a bold move to put all of your eggs in one basket like that. More power to them to trust in their homebred sire to this extent.

Oh, and just one more thing:

There’s a method to the Kitten naming madness: “We divide them up into tiers,” Ramsey offers. “The good ones are named after family members: Jill, Kelly, Jeff, Scott, William.”

The second level has no family names, but Kitten remains: Keen Kitten, Canadian Kitten, New York Kitten. And the least promising are excluded from the Kitten franchise, though they still get their sire’s name: Joy to the World, Canadian Joy, New York Joy. Bettors, take heed.

Quite the powerful family (I'm referring to the horses, of course).

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