Exercise rider Joel Barrientos rides Kentucky Derby hopeful International Star during a workout at Churchill Downs Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel
April 29, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Ken Ramsey is hoping for a Kentucky Derby victory so he can change the epitaph on his tombstone.

A win by International Star on Saturday would fulfill a longtime goal, and give Ramsey a fresh final tribute.

As of now, he's fiddling with: ''I made a lot of good deals, but I went in the hole on this one.''

The line is typical of Ramsey's sense of humor. But he's serious about dropping the joke for a Derby tribute.

''I hope to change that, and put on there that I won a Kentucky Derby in a certain year,'' Ramsey said. ''It could be 2015.''

International Star is the best chance yet for Ken and wife Sarah, the leading owners in the country three of the last four years, and champion breeders the past two seasons.

They are winless with six Derby starters and have not finished higher than eighth. This time they have a colt who is the point leader among 3-year-olds. International Star is unbeaten in three stakes this year at the Fair Grounds, including a neck victory in the Louisiana Derby.

A Derby win would be a crowning achievement for the self-made couple.

Ken Ramsey grew up in rural Kentucky in a house that lacked indoor plumbing.

''Instead of having three or four rooms and a bath, we had four rooms and a path,'' Ramsey said.

Sarah is the daughter of a coal miner.

Together they built a trucking firm, a real estate business and a telecommunications company.

Ken Ramsey, 79, caught the horse racing bug when an aunt took him to Churchill Downs when he was 6 years old.

He dabbled as an owner and trainer before taking a serious plunge with the purchase of Kentucky's Almahurst Farm in 1994. It was renamed Ramsey Farm.

Sarah had a stroke in 2007 which limits her mobility. That left Ken as the face of - and the driving force - behind the stable.

Now the ultimate goal could be at hand.

''I know they're saying the Louisiana races may not have been the toughest,'' Ramsey said. ''This horse is under the radar, but he's my best chance ever to win the Kentucky Derby.''

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HOPEFUL ZITO: There were 22 horses entered for the Derby on Wednesday with the field capped at 20.

Both Frammento and Tale of Verve will run only if another horse in the field is scratched.

Frammento, trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, will get first crack at any openings.

The colt is doing much better than his Hall of Fame trainer, who is battling a cold that reduced his raspy voice to a hoarse whisper.

''I'm optimistic,'' Zito said of Frammento's chances of making the Derby. ''We'll play it by ear. We don't want anything bad to happen (to another horse) but I think this horse should have been in.''

Frammento would have made the field if he had improved his position by one spot - third instead of fourth - most recently in the Blue Grass Stakes.

Frammento has developed into a deep closer, a horse who drops far off the pace before launching a rally.

''That's perfect,'' said Zito of the 1 1/4-mile Derby. ''That's the kind of horse you want. He's a legitimate horse.''

Zito is a two-time Derby winner with Strike the Gold (1991) and Go for Gin (1994). He has not run a horse in the Derby since Dialed In finished eighth in 2011.

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