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Owner Ramsey in Need of Kidney Transplant

Ken Ramsey is a four-time Eclipse Award winner as outstanding owner.

Ken Ramsey in May in the paddock at Churchill Downs

Ken Ramsey in May in the paddock at Churchill Downs

Anne M. Eberhardt

The positive outlook that has helped four-time Eclipse Award-winning owner Ken Ramsey in horse racing also carries him in life, where he recently has received a concerning prognosis regarding his health.

Ramsey needs a kidney transplant and is reaching out to the public to find a donor. Beyond his usual approach of looking on the bright side, Ramsey's spirits have been lifted this week as his surgeon has informed him that other than his failing kidneys he's in excellent shape. That makes him a candidate for a transplant.

He has spent the majority of this week being evaluated at the Weill Cornell Transplant Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

Ramsey has maintained a healthy lifestyle throughout his years and he attributes that to helping him be a candidate. He said high blood pressure, that he attributes to his Type A personality, is the cause of his poor kidneys, which are down to 8% functionality.

He's been told that if a donor is not found within the next four months, he'll need to begin dialysis three days a week.

Anyone interested in donating a kidney can register at the program's website. Ramsey acknowledged that he could never repay such a donor but noted that he would make things as easy as possible for anyone making that decision through providing private air travel and a stay in a top hotel for what he said typically is about a two-day process.

Ramsey, 89, said over the past three years he's taken steps to address his high blood pressure, including losing nearly 30 pounds, getting more exercise, reducing stress, and improving his sleep. That has helped but the kidney problems have now reached a critical stage.

He noted that he is a candidate for anyone with Type O blood, O-positive or O-negative.

While Ramsey addresses his health challenges, he's enjoying staying on top of his runners. Reach for the Rose has been invited—and Ramsey has accepted the invite—to compete at Royal Ascot following his fast-closing runner-up finish in the Royal Palm Juvenile Stakes May 11 at Gulfstream Park.

"Winning at Royal Ascot has been a dream of mine, as has winning the Kentucky Derby," Ramsey said. "I won't be able to make the trip to Ascot because of this health issue but (trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.) will go. As for the Derby, I have 32 2-year-olds in training with my grandson Nolan. One of them might be the one."

A Kentucky homebred for Ramsey, Reach for the Rose, a juvenile son of Audible —Divine Mission, by Twirling Candy , made his debut in the Royal Palm, where he finished second to Gabaldon. The winner received a berth and $25,000 travel stipend to compete in one of six juvenile stakes June 18-22 at Royal Ascot. 

Reach for the Rose is the first starter for Divine Mission, who is a half sister to stakes winners Be My Sunshine and In the Mood.

Nolan Ramsey secured his first win as a trainer May 10 when he sent out Marshamarshamarsha to a victory in a claiming race at Gulfstream.