Ben’s Cat to Work Saturday for Maryland Million Sprint
Ben’s Cat, who has won a remarkable 32 times in 59 career starts, will breeze a final time this weekend in preparation for the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint on Saturday, October 22. at Laurel Park. The 10-year-old gelding trained by King Leatherbury will attempt to end the first four-race losing streak of his sensational career in the 6 furlong sprint next weekend.
Ben’s Cat has won the Maryland Million three times and finished second three other times in six starts. He’s won 28 stakes races with more than $2.6 million in career purse earnings. His most recent finish was fifth in the Laurel Dash Sept. 10, and has since worded twice at Laurel including four furlongs in 49 seconds on Oct. 1, the third-fastest of 25 horses that day. His other was a mile work in 1:50 in his first time work since the Laurel Dash.
“He worked a slow mile, a very slow mile,” Leatherbury said. “He’s going to work back on Saturday.”
Ben’s Cat won the 5 ½-furlong Maryland Million Turf Sprint from 2010-2012 and was second in the one-mile Maryland Million Turf in 2013 and 2014. Last year, he finished second by a nose in the Sprint, his three losses coming by less than a length combined.
The Sprint will be just the third race on dirt from 20 starts dating back to June 2014 for Ben’s Cat, who is 11-for-17 lifetime on the main track with two seconds and a third.
A victory would tie Ben’s Cat for the oldest Maryland Million winner with La Reine’s Terms, who captured the 2005 Turf at the age of 10, and give him the most wins in event history.
“He’s coming along nicely,” the 83-year-old Leatherbury said. “He came out of the last one (Laurel Dash) fine but when you look at his record you’ve got to suspect that maybe it’s the beginning of the end, which is sad thing for me to say. He’s not coming up with his big finishes like he used to. He’s feeling good and he’s sound, just like me I guess,” Leatherbury said. “He’s right there and he’s in good spots, but when you ask him to run he just doesn’t have that kick like he’s had, which is a sad thing for an old man like me.”
A four-time Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, Ben’s Cat began 2016 with wins in an open allowance May 1 at Laurel and the Jim McKay Turf Sprint May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course. Since then, he ran third in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup, Parx Dash and Mister Diz before finishing fifth in the Laurel Dash Sept. 10.