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Saratoga's leading owner offers special "thank you" to Marylou Whitney

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Albany/HV: Saratoga's leading owner offers special "thank you" to Marylou Whitney
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Similar to jockeys and horses on the track, thoroughbred owners are often in competition with one another. However, that doesn't stop them from looking after each other. YNN's Matt Hunter tells us about one family's grand gesture, and the special "thank you" that followed.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- "We're fortunate to be where we are now and basically, we love each other," Ken Ramsey said.

As one would expect from a couple happily married for 55 years, Ken and Sarah Ramsey are madly in love. However, things got especially tough when Sarah suffered a debilitating stroke in 2007.

"For awhile we thought we were going to lose her," said Ramsey.

At that point, Ramsey was already a successful businessman and one of the top owners in thoroughbred racing. One day he decided to pick up the phone and call someone who knew exactly what he was going through.

"I heard the love in his voice about his wife," John Hendrickson said. "He said 'I need to fix my wife, can you help?'"

Sure enough, Hendrickson had a solution.

During the Spring of 2006, Hendrickson's wife, Marylou Whitney, a stroke of her own. The two couples were merely acquaintances. They first met when the Ramsey's horse, Roses in May, won the Whitney Handicap in 2004.

"John said 'First of all, we have a very good doctor in California that helped save Marylou's life'," remembered Whitney.

"They flew him in their private plane from California to Miami," Ramsey said. "He treated her for two days and in my opinion, probably made the difference between her being here and not being here because at the time she was only given a 40 percent chance of survival."

Six years later, Sarah requires a wheel chair and has limited speech, but the couple is still happy and thriving in the horse business. To date, they are the leading owners at the 2013 Saratoga meet and have also won numerous ownership titles in the past.

Earlier this year, the Ramseys found the perfect way to show their gratitude. One of their two-year-old fillys needed a name. It just so happened her sire, Birdstone, won a Belmont Stakes and Travers in Whitney's famed silks.

"If it turns out as well as we think it's going to, we're naming her Thank You Marylou," Ramsey explained.

"He told us at the Kentucky Derby this year and we were thrilled," Hendrickson said.

"I thought it was so adorable," Whitney said. "We immediately let him know how flattered we were."

In her first start last month, Thank You Marylou won the Tippett Stakes at Colonial Downs in Virginia.

On Sunday, she will attempt to back that up in Saratoga's Grade II Adirondack Stakes, where she'll be running not just for the Ramseys and as a symbol of the unique bond between the two couples.

"We see them quite a bit and we protect our own," Hendrickson said.

"He's madly in love with her," Whitney said of the Ramseys. "I wish that every woman her age could have a man love her and worship her as much as he does."

"It's meant so much [to us] and it means so much to Ms. Whitney," said Ramsey. "It would just be a wonderful thing if we were to pull it off tomorrow."

It won't be easy for Thank You Marylou on Sunday, where she faces six others including the heavy favorite, Fiftyshadesofgold. At 6-1, Thank You Marylou is the fourth choice on Sunday's line. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP