Guest blogger, Lindsay Hunter delivers a mare to Talent Search at Ramsey Farm and recounts some of the rich heritage of the area.
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Ramsey Farm 3.22.13
Friday morning dawned crisp and clear, and by noon the sun was peaking through the tufty clouds. Trailer freshly bedded in blonde pine shavings, I set off towards Danville to collect a mare from a farm close to Herrington Lake..
The big bay mare stepped happily into the gooseneck, and we set off back up the highway. Bailey rode shotgun, sniffing the clean country air, Solo curled into his hamster position, rear end on the arm rest, his head across my shoulders.
Destination: Ramsey Farm. Date for the day : Talent Search.
Talent Search , a strapping chestnut with a white blaze ,earned $603,360, placing second in the Vosburgh Stakes, and third in the Breeders Cup Sprint, behind Midnite Lute. By Catienus, also a Ramsey Farm stallion popular in New York, and out of Mrs. K by Mr. Prospector, he has stood previously in Pennsylvania, but is now home in Kentucky.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s farm is bordered by four well traveled roads in Jessamine County, just slightly south of Lexington, on land formerly known as Almahurst Farm, which in it’s heyday spanned 3335 acres, and was the largest combination Thoroughbred and Standardbred farm in the world. The Knight family had settled on the land, and for his service in the Revolutionary War, James Knight (1750 - 1831 ) was granted the deed to the land in 1778 by Gov Patrick Henry and it remained as a premier horse breeding nursery through five generations of Knights. The farm was established before and is older than the City of Lexington (1779 ) the State of Kentucky (1792 ) and The Constitution (1789 )
Exterminator, foaled on the farm in 1915, won the Kentucky Derby in 1918, earning $252,000 in 100 starts, was voted the greatest ‘cup ‘ horse in American history. Horses racing under the Knight family name were respected all over, and the farm became synonymous with quality bloodstock.
Claude, foaled in 1900, perhaps Mr. Henry Knight’s favorite Thoroughbred, raced coast to coast, starting 108 times, winning 32 of those races. Crowds would turn out to see “Old Bones “ run.
In 1935 Mr. Henry H. Knight , fifth generation, named the farm “Almahurst “ for his wife, Alma Horine (married in 1914 ) and added land, constructed new barns and rebuilt fencing. Everything was painted in light cream, trimmed in red, with green roofs.
The World Champion trotter , Greyhound, out of the grey mare, Elizabeth by Peter the Great, who was taken to Calumet Farm to be bred to Guy Abbey, was foaled in 1932, raised and broken at Almahurst. Purchased as a yearling for $900, he held 15 World Trotting Records, and as a 4 year old trotted a mile in a then unbelievably fast 1.57 ¼. He also made history trotting the fastest mile under saddle at the historic Red Mile in Lexington, with Francis Dodge van Lennep, who had never ridden him before, in the irons. Other great Standardbreds raised by Almahurst were Peter Volo (Greyhounds’ half brother ) who founded a great trotting family, and Nervolo Belle.
In 1950, all of the Standardbred breeding stock was purchased by Castleton Farm, of Francis Dodge van Lennep.
In 1963 Almahurst was purchased by P.J. Baugh, who continued to breed exceptional horses, primarily Standardbreds, and as I recall, stood as many as eight stallions, under the watchful management of Albert Adams, but when the focus on Standardbreds shifted to the Northeast, in the late 80’s, many of the premier Kentucky Standardbred stallions were sent to stand in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
In 1994, the farm was sold to the Ramseys who had sold their cell phone network franchises for a reported $39 million. Mr. Baugh moved across the road to the former Copeland Farm of Dreabon Copeland, taking the name with him.
The Ramsey’s homebred stallion, Kitten’s Joy (Sarah ‘s nickname is ‘Kitten ’ ) and the exceptional Roses in May, among others racing under the Ramsey banner, have contributed to the Ramsey’s having earned the distinction of being the most successful owners of the decade, with over two dozen awards. Mark Partridge, an English former show jumper from a long line of horsemen, manages the farm and is personally involved in all aspects of operation, including every breeding.
We are first in line, which is good, because I knew Talent Search would be quick. He bounded into the shed, gleaming in bronze chestnut, muscles rippling. The mare was cooperative, and we were soon following the tree lined lanes, past the Kitten Spa , back out to the highway and south to Danville.