Ramsey Farm, owned by Kenneth Lee and Sarah Kathern Ramsey (originally started in 1783) is one of finest racing and breeding institutions in the world. The farm average's about 55 broodmares with a total of about 200 horses on the farm and about 40 horses in its racing stable. Secretariat's World is pleased to have a tete-a-tete with Farm Manager - Mark Partridge and Marketing Director - Jeff Ramsey.
Q - What is your number one objective at Ramsey Farm and what is done to achieve it?
A - Our main goal is to breed Grade or Group One horses and specifically a Kentucky Derby winner. To achieve this we breed to two turn dirt stallions with well bred mares and then put them in the hands of successful trainers.We also stand top stallion Kitten's Joy, while he has had some dirt stakes winners, most of his progeny prefer the turf and he has sired multiple Breeders' Cup Champions as well as Eclipse Champion Big Blue Kitten and the winningest turf mare in North America, Stephanie's Kitten. He has Grade One winners in both the US and Europe.
Q - How did this operation start and what are your plans for the future?
A - Kenneth L and Sarah K. Ramsey purchased what is now Ramsey Farm over 20 years ago. In the 1970's Ken Ramsey decided to follow his love of horses and earned his Trainer's License so he could have a solid foundation in the horse industry. That eventually led to more horses and winners and when the right opportunity came along they purchased the farm and began racing and breeding horses on a larger scale. This has grown to a sizable operation with 747 mares, foals, yearlings, stallions and race horses at one time. Our future plan is to keep breeding and racing, but plan to increase their sales operation and sell more of the horses they breed and to scale back the racing horses and try to focus more on stakes horses. Having won the Dubai World Cup with Roses in May, the Ramsey's still desire to win a race at Royal Ascot and are still chasing a win in The Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.
Q - Are there any special techniques that may help you monitor Kitten’s Joy during breeding season?
A - Kitten's Joy has a strict training program, he exercises in an aqua-treadmill 3 days a week during breeding season and 5 days a week in the off season, this is low impact but high aerobic which keeps him very fit indeed. He is also out in his paddock all day no matter the weather unless there is lightening.
Q - What sort of program of disease control, vaccination and deworming do you use?
A - The farm veterinarian monitors the health of all of the horses on the farm (Approx. 500 head) the vaccinations are in accordance with AAEP protocol and the deworming is on a scheduled basis for the foals and a as needed basis for the rest, determined with a fecal count. We of course try to keep stalls clean and sanitized when horses move around to help prevent the spread of disease.
Q - Have you had any famous stable ‘guests’ (boarders) you could tell us about?
A - We have had very few boarders and we do not disclose our clients.
Q - How do you manage the stallion to yield best fertility?
A - Fitness, quality grass, feed, water and DO NOT OVERBREED.
Q - Could you give us an idea how you handle the foaling mare and her foal? You have some special techniques to make them tough and successful, could you share them with our readers?
A - We keep our mares under watch as foaling season approaches. Eventfully we bring the ones closest to having a foal in for the night and have a night watch person who checks on the mares all evening, they also check on the mares outside the barn to see if any mare is about to go early.Once the mare is about to give birth we move her into one of two foaling stalls that are extra large and are well padded with straw. Our night watch person calls for an assistant to join them so try to have at least two people present for each birth to try and avoid any complications. Our veterinarian is on call 24/7 who comes if a birth is not going well. Of course most births are smooth and easy and the mares require very little assistance.We make our young stock tough and successful by feeding only quality grass, feed, spring water and leave them outside as much as possible in large fields (70 acres plus) in groups of 30 head. We feel the spring water is important. We have removed all city or processed water and our horses only drink spring, well or creek water
Q - Let’s jump ahead about 5-6 months and hear about your methods of weaning.
A - We start weaning around 5 months of age and systematically take out two mares at a time three times per week, (10 mares & foals per field). The mares and foals don't like it much and can get a little loud at times, but they soon acclimate to the change and are fine.
Q - With all of those client horses moving in and out, and with foals being born and started on your farm, how do you handle identification of the individual horses?
A - Our clients only bring the mare to be bred, we don't typically foal any mares for clients. All of our horses have microchips, all the foals are implanted with microchips at birth before they even leave the foaling stall to be weighed. Of course they all have name tags on their halter or neck band as well.
Q -Finally, do you see more events like the Pegasus World Cup, as the future of racing?
A - I think more tracks will be considering races like this and probably turf races to attract European horses. Everyone likes a big purse and it builds excitement among the public and drawing in new fans is very important to our industry. In this day and age when people have so many entertainment and gambling options the horse industry has to keep things exciting so I think tracks will keep looking to big events to keep drawing in new fans and old.