Looking “as good as ever as a 7-year-old,” according to breeder/owner/trainer King T. Leatherbury, Ben’s Cat recorded his 16th stakes win with a calculated move in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint over the firm Pimlico turf on Friday, May 17.
Rated patiently on the outside after the break by Julian Pimentel, the nearly black gelding was eased out to the four path leaving the turn for home, reeled in the early leaders and, gained command near the sixteenth pole before driving clear to a one-length score over Spring to the Sky. Bridgetown, who went off as a slight choice over Ben’s Cat, was another half length back in third. The final time for the five furlongs was :56.18, just .48 seconds off the course record.
“He’s not that well bred, I just hit a home run when everything fell into place with this horse,” said Leatherbury. “He’s super and has stayed totally healthy. He’s probably one of the best dirt-grass horses in the country. He’ll run in the Governor’s Cup at Penn National on June 1.”
It was the second win in as many starts this year for Ben’s Cat–he had captured his fourth consecutive Mister Diz Stakes in April. He was winning the Jim McKay for the second time, having also taken the 2011 renewal.
A son of former Country Life Farm stallion Parker’s Storm Cat (a half-brother to Malibu Moon), Ben’s Cat now sports a record of 31-21-3-1 for earnings of $1,462,290. Unraced until his 4-year-old year after recovering from a broken pelvis, Ben’s Cat has won six of his nine starts at Pimlico, including his maiden breaking score when risked for a $20,000 tag in his career debut in May 2010, the start of an eight-race win streak.
The two-time Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, who was honored at the Maryland Horse Breeders Association’s awards dinner on the evening of May 11 at Pimlico, Ben’s Cat is out of the Leatherbury-bred stakes-placed mare Twofox, a daughter of tough Leatherbury-trained stakes winner Thirty Eight Paces.