Sister Lou Ann wins the Jeff Ruby One Dreamer under Jose Ortiz (Coady Photography)
By Jennie Rees for Kentucky Downs
FRANKLIN, Ky.— Lou Ann McElvan said early Thursday afternoon that she would lead the 4-year-old filly Sister Lou Ann into the winner’s circle after the featured $500,000 Jeff Ruby One Dreamer Stakes at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs. That’s what happened after Sister Lou Ann wore down front-running For the Flag for a 1 1/2-length victory.
McElvan comes by her confidence honestly. Her brother who bred and owns Sister Lou Ann is Ken Ramsey, who made a point to set goals and break records on his way to becoming the winningest owner in Kentucky history. That includes Kentucky Downs, where Ramsey and his late wife, Sarah, won eight owner titles from 2009-2018. The Ramsey win total now is 48 at Kentucky Downs, with no other owner within 30 victories of them.
It was the first time McElvan had seen her namesake race. She and her husband, Pat, came up from Florida for the stakes.
“Came all the way from Fleming Isle, Fla., just to see this horse win,” Lou Ann McElvan said, adding of her helping to lead Sister Lou Ann into the winner’s circle. “I stuck to my word. It was unbelievable, fantastic. Ken always wanted me to come and see my namesake run. I said, ‘I’ll be up there.’ It was well worth the drive.”
“It was great,” said Jeff Ramsey, son of Ken, who was not at Kentucky Downs. “We’ve had several run down here already this meet, and this was our first win. We couldn’t ask for more than a big stakes-winner on a great day – and a horse named for family. Very big.”
For the Flag, with Jorge Ruiz up, finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Jubilee Bridge and Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Javier Castellano. Candy Light, Viareggio, Present Moment and Kate’s Kingdom completed the order of finish.
Sister Lou Ann, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Frosted out of the Kitten’s Joy mare Granny Mc’s Kitten, now is 3-3-1 in 11 starts, ballooning her earnings to $445,602 with the $301,900 payday. A minor stakes-winner last year, Sister Lou Ann had a second and a third — sandwiched around a drubbing over yielding turf in Woodbine’s Grade 2 Nassau — coming into the One Dreamer. The Kentucky Downs stakes was restricted to fillies and mares that had not won a stakes in 2023.
“Very nice filly,” trainer Saffie Joseph said after winning his third race of the meet. “She ran at Saratoga last time (a close third in an allowance race). Luis (Saez) got off of her and thought she probably should have won. I kind of made him take her back, and he was like, ‘Boss, it cost me.’ I said, ‘We’ll win at Kentucky Downs next time.’ Unfortunately, he got hurt. Jose gave her a masterful ride today. Thanks to Mr. Ramsey for giving us these kinds of horses.”
Sister Lou Ann has a lot of natural speed. But jockey Jose Ortiz was content to push the moderate-to-slow pace set by For the Flag and briefly Present Moment through fractions of 24.38, 49.90, 1:15.55 and 1:40.45. Sister Lou Ann came very wide into the lane, and she and For the Flag were head-and-head with an eighth mile to go.
“I broke great. Saffie told me to let the 7 go,” said Ortiz, who has won five races at the meet. “We thought the speed wasn’t holding very good today, so we let her go. But we were pretty close – just in case. The fractions were easy enough, that’s what we wanted. Then we only had to worry about one horse in front of us, not the whole field. Saffie drew it up great for me. I followed his instructions, and the filly fired.”
Sister Lou Ann strode away in the final strides while covering the mile and 70 yards in 1:44.63. She paid $10.46 to win as the third betting choice in the field of seven fillies and mares.
“I talked with Jose, ‘If the 7 is going to beat us, the way the turf is, let the 7 beat us,’” Joseph said. “In other words, ride it like you’re going to run down the 7. If the 7 keeps going, then we’ll take that. We’ll accept that we weren’t the best horse on the day.
“He gave her a gem of a ride. It’s always very nice to win at Kentucky Downs.”
Racing resumes Saturday with a special 11:30 a.m. Central first post for the 12-race card that includes six graded stakes, each worth at least $1 million, including Kentucky-bred purse supplements.