From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Ellendale Racing’s Roadhog caught even money favorite Ben’s Cat in the final jumps to repeat as winner of the $125,000 Maryland Million Turf.
Ben’s Cat, one of the top turf sprinters in the country, was looking to become the first horse to win four Maryland Million races. Last year, the King Leatherbury homebred won the Turf Sprint for the third consecutive year but that race was eliminated by Maryland Million officials.
Leatherbury cross-entered his star in the one-mile Turf and the $100,000 Sprint on the main track, but opted to run in the Turf.
“He likes the turf a little soft so that wasn’t an issue today,” Leatherbury said. “He raced well but this distance is really not his best. That’s all.”
Kendrick Carmouche was at the controls as Roadhog, a son of Bowman’s Band, stalked frontrunner Capital Fellow and Ben’s Cat into the far turn. When Ben’s Cat took the lead straightening for home, it appeared the popular Leatherbury trainee was on his way to another local turf victory, but Carmouche and Roadhog had other ideas and they proved more determined, getting up in the final strides to win by a neck in 1:39.29.
“I wanted to sit on the rail and wait for Ben’s Cat to make his move at the eighth pole,” Carmouche said. “Once that happened I knew I could run him down because my horse has a better kick going longer. I wanted to be third and then finish. That’s the way it played out.”
Elizabeth Merryman trains Roadhog, an eight-time winner on the grass who captured the Alphabet Soup Handicap at Parx in his previous start.
“We knew the competition was tough coming into this race,” Merryman said. “We were certainly concerned about Ben’s Cat and Change of Command (who finished eighth as the second choice) looked very good in here. Kendrick was very confident after riding him at Parx in the last race, so I knew he had a good chance today. We are all very happy with how well he ran today.”
The winner paid $9.40 and topped a $33.60 exacta. The trifecta paid $108.20.
Ben’s Cat is now 23-of-36 lifetime for earnings of $1,720,640. Last year, he became Leatherbury’s first millionaire.
Hall of Famer Safely Kept (Distaff-1989-90-91), Countus In (Ladies-1989-90-91), Mz. Zill Bear (Ladies-1993-94-95) and Docent (Sweepstakes-2001 & Classic-2002-03) are the other runners to win three times on Maryland Million day.
(Featured image by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.)