From a Penn National release
Ben’s Cat, one of the most accomplished horses in the country, will look to collect his 19th career stakes victory in the $250,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap on Thanksgiving Eve, Wednesday, November 27, at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
The Fabulous Strike, run at six furlongs on the dirt track, was carded as the fourth race (7:22 p.m. EST post time) and will be the final leg of an All Stakes Early Pick 4 that also includes the $75,000 Blue Mountain for 2-year-old PA Bred fillies, the $150,000 Lady in Waiting for fillies and mares, and the $150,000 Swatara for 3-year-olds and up.
The evening also features the “Food For Friends” Charity Drive, during which guests 18-years-and-up who bring a non-perishable food item between 5 – 8 p.m. will receive a free mystery wagering voucher valued between $2 and $100 and a free dessert coupon for the Mountainview Dining and Terrace Lounge overlooking the racetrack.[boxify cols_use =”5″ cols =”5″ position =”left” order =”none” box_spacing =”5″ padding =”5″ border_width =”2″ border_color =”blue” border_style =”solid” height =”60″]
HRTV, The Network for Horse Sports, will be providing enhanced race day coverage of the Fabulous Strike and the three additional stakes races on Thanksgiving Eve, November 27. HRTV’s coverage will include in-studio commentary and analysis by network talent on the big night, in addition to TV and online features and promotion leading up to the events.
Conditioned by the legendary King Leatherbury, who started training in 1959 and has won more than 6,400 races, Ben’s Cat will be looking to defend his title in the Fabulous Strike, which he won last year by a head.
“It gives me confidence that he runs so well at Penn National,” said Leatherbury of Ben’s Cat, who will break from post position 2 as the 5-2 second choice on the morning line with regular rider Julian Pimentel aboard. “In his most recent race, the Maryland Million Turf [at Laurel Park], he ran a mile, which was a little bit long for him, and cutting back to six furlongs should really work out well.”
Ben’s Cat, a 7-year-old gelding by the sire Parker’s Storm Cat, has 23 wins from 36 starts with earnings exceeding $1.7 million. Leatherbury indicated the Fabulous Strike will be the last race of the year for Ben’s Cat, after which he will be freshened up for the turf season next spring.
One of the main rivals in the way of Ben’s Cat defense bid will be Ribo Bobo [pronounced RIB-oh BO-bo], who will be looking for his 10th consecutive victory. He will break from the outside post position 7 as the 2-1 morning line favorite with Paco Lopez aboard.
After a promising start to his career in 2010, which included a 2nd-place finish in the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs, Ribo Bobo spent much of 2011 and 2012 in listed stakes and allowance races, eventually ending up in claiming events.
Owner Ron Lombardi of Mr. Amore Stable and trainer Jason Servis saw something they liked and on January 9, 2013, they claimed Ribo Bobo for $8,000 at Gulfstream Park. He won his first race for the duo, but was claimed away from them in his next start. When he was next entered into another claiming event, Lombardi and Servis claimed him again and they have not made the mistake of entering him into another claiming event.
The 5-year-old gelded son of Louis Quatorze has been ultra impressive during his 10-race winning streak, including an explosive 5 ¾-length victory in the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap at Laurel Park last time out.
Included among his impressive streak is an 11-length tour-de-force victory in a starter allowance at Penn National on June 12, which was a factor in the decision to run in the Fabulous Strike.
“Absolutely one of the reasons that we came for the race is that he ran so well at Penn National earlier this year,” said Servis. “His last few races he has beat some really good horses, and his win in the Maryland Million was terrific.”
While most of Ribo Bobo’s recent wins have come on the lead, he doesn’t necessarily need to be there in order to be successful.
“He has so much natural speed, and I would prefer he not be on the lead, but he seems to find his way there,” said Servis.