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The celebration of the historic racing career of Ben’s Cat, and wishing for a long and happy retirement, has turned to heartbreak after King T. Leatherbury’s 11-year-old homebred gelding succumbed to complications from colic surgery on Tuesday, July 18, just 24 days after his final start.

The four-time Maryland-bred Horse of the Year had undergone surgery on July 6 at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky., to repair an epiploic foramen entrapment, about one week after entering retirement at Bayne and Chris Welker’s Spring Ridge Farm in Versailles, Ky.

Leatherbury told Joe Nevills of the Daily Racing Form: “I thought he had it licked. I was bragging on him so. I said, ‘Here’s a winner. He beat the odds.’ I’ve had it happen to a couple other horses and never had one survive. His granddam, it killed her. We had colic surgery done on her, and she died.

“It was devastating for me. It was a tragic end for a magnificent horse. It’s hard to talk about. It really hit me hard. I was hoping for a nice life for him after all the running he did.”

Over eight seasons, the son of Parker’s Storm Cat out of Twofox, by Thirty Eight Paces, won a Maryland-bred record 26 stakes; more than $2.6 million – the fifth-richest of among state-breds all time; captured 32 of 63 starts, and became one of the most popular horses to ever race in the region.

He took home a total of 17 Maryland-bred championship titles, the most of any Maryland-bred in history . In addition to his Horse of the Year trophies, he was five times Maryland-bred champion turf runner, four times champion older male and four-time champion sprinter. He won five different stakes three times or more, led by six wins in the Mister Diz Stakes and five Jim McKay Turf Sprints, the latter in front of a national audience on Preakness weekend.

Ben’s Cat’s final start came in the Mister Diz on June 24 over the Laurel turf course – his eighth time contesting the race – where he finished ninth, four and a half lengths behind the winner.

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May 15 2018 segment on WJZ TV

In case you missed it, here is WJZ's coverage of the recently released AHC Economic Impact study for Maryland.

Horse industry boosts Md. year round, not just at Preakness Time

For more than 250 years, horses have played a vital role in Maryland’s culture, spirit and history, going back to 1743, when the Maryland Jockey Club — the oldest sporting organization in North America — was chartered.

Read executive director Cricket Goodall's Op-Ed in The Baltimore Sun here

Maryland Horse Industry Adds $1.3 billion to Maryland’s Economy

Home to more than 100,000 horses, Maryland ranks No. 1 in terms of horses per square mile

Baltimore, Md. (May 14, 2018) – The 2018 Economic Impact Study produced by the American Horse Council confirms that Maryland’s horse industry adds more than $1.3 billion to Maryland’s economy. The report found that the horse industry total employment impact is more than 21,000 jobs, including a more than $500 million impact from the horse racing sector alone.

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