By Marie Bradby

Stallion Kitten’s Joy running in his paddock. 

Thoroughbred horse breeder and owner Sarah Kathern “Kitten” Ramsey with her husband Kenneth hold the title of the all-time winningest owners at Churchill Downs. They are also leading winners at other racetracks, including Keeneland in Lexington and Gulfstream Park in Florida, and have won multiple graded stakes, Breeders Cup, and Eclipse awards. Sarah, 78, still keeps her hand in the racing and other businesses (real estate, communications, etc.), despite suffering a stroke in 2008 that left her paralyzed on her right side and with limited ability to talk. Though in a wheelchair, she still travels to the tracks to see their horses run. By writing out her thoughts on a pad and with the assistance of her husband, Sarah gives voice to her story.

Sarah Kathern “Kitten” Ramsey, photos provided by Ramsey Farms  

Who’s been the biggest influence on your work in horse racing, and what lesson did you learn?
My husband, Kenneth. The first horse that my husband trained, a horse named Party Airs, won at River Downs (now Belterra Park) in Cincinnati in May 1971 and paid $46. I learned that you can make money in the horse business.

What’s your favorite horse racing memory?
Winning our first Grade-One race, the Del Mar Oaks, at Del Mar racetrack in California with Bail Out Becky. She was named after my oldest granddaughter, Rebecca.

Of what are you most proud in your thoroughbred work?
Breeding my first mare, Kitten First, and having a C-section performed on her that resulted in our prize stallion Kitten’s Joy. The vet told me that she couldn’t be bred again. But I had her bred, and the delivery was by C-section. That’s not normal procedure in horses. Kitten’s First was the first horse I ever owned. I bred her to El Prado.

I’m proud that I insisted that the mare be bred and a C-section performed. She went on and got such a bouncing boy, that I bred her again and got a filly that we named Precious Kitten. We sold her for $5 million after she’d won a couple million for us. Again, you can make money in the horse business.

Winning the Kentucky Derby has eluded you. Do you have a horse in the works for the Derby?
Well, no prospects this year. We did not have any 2-year-olds that ran well on the dirt this year. We have two horses running in the Spiral Stakes (Turfway Park, Florence, Kentucky). If one of them wins, we will get a starting entry for the Derby. They are: Kitten’s Cat by Kitten’s Joy, and Gorgeous Kitten by Kitten’s Joy. But ours is a long shot. We have two chances — slim and none.

How has your stroke affected your involvement in the business, in life?
It has affected me as far as communicating with my family and the public. But I love the racing game, and I hope that I can be a positive role model to others and show that you don’t have to give up just because something life-changing happens to you. I am a part of the decision-making process with my husband about the horses and our other businesses.

Two foals playing in a field at Ramsey Farm. 

Any other insights about the horse racing business?
Don’t get too big too fast. Keep believing in your dreams. Winning the Kentucky Derby is still on my bucket list.