Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Oscar Nominated romped in Sunday’s $ 350,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby, taking the lead at the top of the Kentucky Downs stretch and drawing away under Florent Geroux’s hand ride to win by 6 1/4 lengths on the wire. The sophomore son of Kitten’s Joy completed 1 5/16 miles over the firm European-style turf course in 2:11.45 for trainer Mike Maker, just .15 seconds off the track record.
“Super very impressive,” Maker said of the win. “He’s been facing the best. I thought the competition was a little lighter than he’s been up against. Proud of his performance.”
“He’s just maturing,” said Mark Partridge, farm manager for Ramsey Farm in Nicholasville, Ky. “Every month goes by, he gets bigger, stronger. He must have been a light-maturing kind of horse. That’s probably why they put him in claiming race and gave us the opportunity to take him. But he’s just maturing every day, and he’ll be better next year.”
Oscar Nominated bobbled a bit at the start under the red-hot Geroux, who’d already ridden four winners on the card. He recovered quickly to race sixth around the sharp first turn, while the speedy Little Scotty, Nessy and Airoforce set a solid early pace. Halfway down the backstretch Madtap moved up to press the pace, urging the leading Little Scotty onward.
Oscar Nominated angled four wide through the far turn, moving into fourth before straightening for home. As he changed leads for the stretch run, he moved directly alongside the new leader Madtap. As soon as Geroux asked the question, Oscar Nominated opened up his stride willingly and sailed away from the field. Under a hand-ride to the finish, Oscar Nominated crossed the wire 6 1/4 lengths in front of Path of David, who closed from far back to finish well. Cordon was up for third, and Madtap hung on for fourth. Race favorite Airoforce tired late, finishing seventh.
Bred in Kentucky by Mrs. Jerry Amerman, Oscar Nominated began his career racing for the Amerman Stable under the tutelage of Bill Mott. He was claimed by the Ramseys for $ 75,000 in his third career start, when he broke his maiden by 4 3/4 lengths at Belmont Park. He would go on to win the listed Black Gold overnight stakes at the Fairgrounds for new trainer Mike Maker, then the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, earning him a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. He finished 17th in classic, and the Dueling Grounds Derby is his first victory since the Spiral. Overall, the colt’s record stands at four wins and three seconds from 12 starts, with earnings of $ 628,000.
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