• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

Red Ruby shines for Woodford County partners

JOCKEY PACO LOPEZ AND RED RUBY parade around Pimlico Race Course after winning the Black Eyed Susan in May. Red Ruby has won four out of six starts in her career. (Photo courtesy of Brandi Nicholson)

Red Ruby has earned a big reputation on the racetrack in 2018. Bred by Woodford County's Sandra and Hargus Sexton, the filly has been turning heads all year. She won her stakes debut at Oaklawn Park in February in the Martha Washington and blew away the field in May at the Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico. In July, she made a big push at the final turn to win the G3 Delaware Oaks to earn her fourth win in six starts.

“I moved to Woodford County at in the 1980's from Arizona,” said Sexton. “Horses have been part of my family for generations. Our family had a Kentucky Derby winner (Swaps 1955), and so I guess you could say it has always been a part of me. When I was a kid, there was a newsreel during intermission of a movie, and we would see the Derby on the reel. That was how we saw the races back then out west. I always knew I would be a part of racing.”

The Sexton's partnership with Brandi and Steven Nicholson at Silver Fern Farm in Versailles has been terrific, according to the Nicholsons. “We've been partners for 10 years, and we trust one another's instincts,” said Brandi Nicholson. “With Ruby its special because most of our success in the past has been just being breeders but we decided to keep her, and she's given us such a fun year so far.”

The Nicholson's have been working with horses for as long as they can remember, according to Brandi. Her husband, Steven rode horses in the morning before school and has been a horseman his entire life. Before establishing Silver Fern Farm, he managed Adena Springs Farm.

One of the groups most successful stories was when they bred Classic Empire who was the American champion two-year-old horse of 2016 and won the Arkansas Derby in 2017. “The Oxley's, who bought him as a yearling, were nice enough to let us tag along through his run of big races and that was a fun ride.” The story about how Red Ruby became a racehorse for the Woodford County group is simple according to Sexton. “We had a crop of horses, and our mare Caroni was getting older so we wanted to keep a filly and we chose Ruby,” said Sexton. “The goal all along was to keep her for a broodmare. Right now, she has been winning and we are having fun watching it all unfold. We named her Red Ruby because Caroni is by Rubiano. Its just as exciting to win any kind of race but, we do have a sense of pride in how special she is.” The folks at Silver Fern Farm will continue to breed horses, but Brandi Nicholson laughed a bit at the prospect of maybe racing more horses after Red Ruby's successful run this year. “We will continue to breed quality horses, but we have had so much fun this year, we may have to consider keeping more and racing more. It has been so much fun,” she said

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