As twenty runners move into the starting gates chasing immortality, great stories abound. Intrigue is a big part of the Kentucky Derby as folks far and wide build their life around winning this one horse race. The sport of kings can truly provide crowning experiences, but the best thing is, the royalty can come from all walks of life. Often times, the guy that was not the blue-blood in the beginning wears Underdog’s cape and becomes a fan favorite. This year that should be Ken Ramsey.

Mr. Ramsey and his wife Sarah have long been major players in the sport. With many titles and accolades already in the trophy case, why should their horse International Star be a sentimental choice?

For starters, these folks from humble beginnings in rural Kentucky have never won the world’s most recognized race. Born in 1935, Ken Ramsey knew hardship and has recognized what hard work will do and that the sport of Thoroughbred racing has literally taken him from outhouse to penthouse.

“When I was growing up, some people had a house with 3 rooms and a bath, we had three rooms and a path,” jokes Ramsey. “This sport has a way of creating a level playing field. It has allowed me to meet movers and shakers, captains of industry, and royalty, but you are the same as any of them if you have a horse good enough to compete at a high level. There is no way a little boy from Artemis, Kentucky, population 500 would have met some of those people if it were not for Thoroughbred racing.”

The Ramsey clan has become royalty within the sport because of their vast operation in both racing and breeding. As the all-time leaders in winning owner titles at Churchill Downs (22), they have known plenty of success beneath the twin spires, just not on the first Saturday in May. Having started in the Kentucky Derby with six previous horses but never finishing higher than 8th (Ten Cents a Shine 2003), the 7th one just might be the lucky number according to Ken Ramsey.

“I like his will to win,” says Ramsey of International Star. “He has been tested and I think he can navigate the 20 horse field better than some of the others. I am not going to call names, but I don’t think some of them have been tested and you don’t know what they are going to do when another horse looks them in the eye. I’m not going to say we are going to win, but I think we have got our best shot yet. We will probably go off at 12 to 15 to 1 and I am going to be betting with both hands.”

Having swept the Derby prep series at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana, this son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus has a three race winning streak. Not the largest in stature, some may question the overall size of International Star. Ramsey, however, has an answer for that too.

“He’s big enough to win,” smiles Ramsey, “That’s all I know!”