On Sunday, We Miss Artie will be the first horse Ken and Sarah Ramsey will run in the Queen's Plate as owners.
Best known for running homebreds by their star stallion Kitten's Joy, the Ramseys purchased We Miss Artie for $90,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale. Ken Ramsey sent his farm manager Mark Partridge to the sale specifically to buy a Kentucky Derby prospect, but Partridge was so impressed by We Miss Artie that he convinced Ramsey to bid on him despite his turf pedigree.
We Miss Artie did not disappoint, becoming one of two horses that the Ramseys ran in this year's Kentucky Derby, finishing 10th in a 19-horse field.
"He didn't run all that badly, and he did the best he could do. No excuses, no problems," Ramsey said.
Last time out, We Miss Artie continued his undefeated streak on synthetic surfaces, which includes wins in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and Spiral at Turfway Park, with a geared-down score in the Plate Trial by three-quarters of a length under regular pilot Javier Castellano.
"Javier may have cut it a little bit close, but he said the horse still had gas in the tank," Ramsey said. "We've never won the Queen's Plate...and that's the goal. He came out of the race super and has trained well, and we think we have a good shot."
A victory in Sunday's C$1 million test would make for an emotional scene with many of the Ramsey family in attendance as We Miss Artie is named for Artie Ignagni, the late husband of Sarah's first cousin Jessie. Both Jessie and her eldest daughter Kathy will be at Woodbine for the race.
The horse arrives at Woodbine from Saratoga on Wednesday
Reade Baker, a fixture at the top of the Woodbine trainer standings, will hope to continue an already successful season, which saw the conditioner notch his 1000th career win on June 15, with a first Queen's Plate score. Baker will saddle a pair of 'Bears', Asserting Bear and Man o' Bear, for Danny Dion's Bear Stables in Sunday's 1 1/4-mile Canadian classic.
Man o' Bear, a strapping chestnut son of Corinthian, broke his maiden in an off-the-turf route in September and completed his five-race juvenile campaign with a third-place run in the Coronation Futurity won by stablemate Asserting Bear.
Unfortunately, Man o' Bear was injured during the running of his season finale and needed time off and only just made his sophomore debut in the Plate Trial when fifth.
"He got a crack in his cannon bone on the Poly in the Coronation Futurity," Baker explained. "I thought he was going to win coming around the turn, but he got hurt and needed some time off.
"We're playing catch up now, but when you see him in the paddock you'll see that he's a magnificent beast in perfect health. I've always thought he was a better horse than Asserting Bear, but he hasn't run to prove that yet."
By comparison, Asserting Bear has enjoyed a perfect path to the Plate competing in a number of Kentucky Derby preps topped by a rallying fourth-place run in the Spiral.
"Around the turn it looked like he was checked and fading out of the race but he picked himself up and made a run. He was just gobbling up ground at the end," recalled Baker, of Asserting Bear's gutsy Spiral run.
Last time out, Asserting Bear crossed the wire first in the Marine Stakes but was disqualified and placed third when the stewards ruled he had obstructed the late run of Plate rival Ami's Holiday.
"I don't think he should have come down," Baker said.
And even if Ami's Holiday had found a clear path, Baker remains convinced his horse would have won.
"He wasn't getting by me. This horse has too much inner strength to let that horse by him."