From a Maryland Horse Breeders Association release

King T. Leatherbury’s popular homebred gelding Ben’s Cat was named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year for an unprecedented third time in the annual poll conducted by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

 In addition, he has become the most decorated state-bred in the 62-year history of the awards, taking three divisional categories in 2013 – champion older male, sprinter and turf horse – to increase his total to 10.

Incredibly consistent, Ben’s Cat produced a near-identical season to that of 2012, winning five of eight starts, all in stakes company, and earning $505,350, the most of any Maryland-bred for the year. He defended his title in Parx Racing’s Parx Dash Handicap, a Grade 3 for the first time last year, as well as Penn National’s Fabulous Strike Handicap, the latter his only start on the main track.

 The dark bay kicked off his 7-year-old campaign with a fourth consecutive victory in Pimlico’s Mister Diz Stakes. He also won, for the second time in three years, the Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes at Pimlico and the Laurel Dash Stakes at Laurel. His other three starts resulted in stakes-placings. He finished second by a neck in the one-mile Maryland Million Turf Stakes, his only start beyond six furlongs, and was third in the Grade 3 Turf Monster Handicap and Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Handicap.

The son of Parker’s Storm Cat out of Twofox, by Thirty Eight Paces, unraced until May of his 4-year-old season in 2010, has won 24 of his 37 lifetime starts, with four seconds and three thirds, for career earnings of $1,862,640, ranking him eighth on the all-time list of top-earning Maryland-bred runners. He has been named champion turf runner four times (2010 to 2013), champion older male from 2011 to 2013, and sprinter in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Six of the 2013 champions were conceived in Maryland: Great Notion (Jonesin for Jerry and Grateful Nation) and the late Two Punch (Bold Affair) at Northview Stallion Station; Outflanker (Joint Custody), Shamrock Farm; Yarrow Brae (Foyle), formerly standing at Murmur Farm; and former Country Life Farm stallion Parker’s Storm Cat.

Other divisional champions:

  • Champion 2-year-old male: Joint Custody (gr./ro.g., 2011, by Outflanker-Paying Off, by Malibu Moon). Bred by Janet Wayson; owned by Konrad M. Wayson; trained by John J. Robb.
  • Champion 2-year-old filly: Jonesin for Jerry (b.f., 2011, by Great Notion-Derwin’s Lady, by Langfuhr). Bred by Roland Farm; owned by Brad Gould Jr. and Hidden Hill Farm; trained by John J. Robb.
  • Champion 3-year-old male: Grateful Nation (dk.b./br.g, 2010, by Great Notion-Trueytoo, by Concern). Bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman and Rebecca Davis; owned by Rebecca B. Davis; trained by Richard W. Small.
  • Champion 3-year-old filly: Walkwithapurpose (b.f., 2010, by Candy Ride-Arg-Lightning Lydia, by Broad Brush). Bred and owned by Sagamore Farm LLC; trained by Ignacio Correas IV.
  • Champion older female: Bold Affair (ch.m., 2008, Two Punch-Hunka Hunka Lori Z, by Colonial Affair). Bred and owned by Charles Reed and Michael Zanella; trained by Howard Wolfendale.
  • Champion steeplechaser: Foyle (dk.b./br.g., 2005, by Yarrow Brae-Londonderry, by Perfecting). Bred by Mrs. C. Frank Hopkins; owned by Merriefield Farm; trained by H. Bruce Fenwick.

Voting for this year’s champions were the MHBA board of directors, Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred editors Joe Clancy and Cindy Deubler, Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary Georganne Hale, stakes coordinator Coleman Blind, communications director Mike Gathagan, racing analyst Gabby Gaudet and track announcer Dave Rodman, Bill Brasaemle and Keith Feustle of Equibase, free-lance writers Dale Austin, Andy Beyer, Ted Black, Sean Clancy, Maggie Kimmitt, Vinnie Perrone and John Scheinman, radio host Stan Salter, photographer Lydia Williams and Frank Vespe of The Racing Biz.

(Featured image by Laurie Asseo.)