LEXINGTON, Ky. - Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey reached another milestone during Keeneland’s 16-day spring meet when their Dark Cove captured the 28th running of the $150,000 Elkhorn Stakes (G2) before 19,216 fans on closing day. With the victory, the Ramseys recorded their eighth graded stakes win at the track and received a gold tray that is part of Keeneland’s signature graded stakes trophy program.
Only 17 other owners in track history have achieved such an honor.
Dark Cove was one of three winners on the 10-race card for the Ramseys. They also won the third race and the 10th race to conclude the spring meet with a record 25 victories.
Winning trainer Mike Maker also had a three-win day, pushing him to 25 wins and past the previous record of 22 wins for a Keeneland meet set by D. Wayne Lukas in the fall of 1989.
Dark Cove was ridden by the meet’s leading jockey, Joel Rosario, who pushed his meet total to a spring record 38 victories.
In the Elkhorn, Dark Cove was the 9-1 sixth choice in the field of 11 horses going 1½ miles on the Keeneland turf course. The 3-1 favorite, Ioya Bigtime, took the early lead and led his rivals through leisurely early fractions of :26.61, :52.32 and 1:17.40 with Al Qasr second.
Dark Cove raced in third behind Ioya Bigtime and Al Qasr until the horses entered the stretch, when he and Rosario surged to the lead. The pair increased their advantage through the stretch to cross the finish line 4¼ lengths in front of 23-1 longshot Side Road with Sky Blazer a nose behind in third. Dark Cove won the race in 2:30.84.
Al Qasr finished 3¼ lengths behind in fourth and was followed in order by Reflecting, Pool Play, Al Khali, Macho Bull, Ioya Bigtime and Helicopter. Forte Dei Marmi (GB) was eased.
The victory marked the first career stakes win for Dark Cove, a Keeneland sales graduate who was claimed by Maker on behalf of the Ramseys for $50,000 at Keeneland exactly a year ago. The horse earned $90,000 for the Elkhorn victory, his first in a stakes, to increase his career bankroll to $332,510. Dark Cove has seven wins in 22 starts.
The winner paid $19.80, $10.80 and $6.80. Side Road, who was ridden by Gary Stevens, returned $21.20 and $12. Sky Blazer, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, paid $7 to show.
Napravnik also had a three-win day, taking the third, sixth and seventh races.
Racing returns to Keeneland on Friday, October 4, opening day of the 17-day fall meet.