From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Legendary trainer King Leatherbury, who turned 81 today, indicated that Ben’s Cat will make his 2014 debut at Pimlico Race Course next Saturday, April 5 in the Mister Diz Stakes. The son of Parker’s Storm Cat will be looking for his fifth consecutive victory in the Mister Diz and 20th career stakes victory.
“That is his race,” Leatherbury said.
Ben’s Cat, who ranks eighth on the all-time Maryland-bred earnings list with $1,862,640, returned to training last month after a couple months off following his 7-year-old campaign. The gelding has more than $500,000 in earnings for three consecutive years. He is 24-of-37 lifetime with three Grade 3 scores.
“He is doing super good,” added Leatherbury. “Every year I say he’s never been better and it is hard to say because he is eight years old but he acts like he’s never been better. He is just a super horse. To come across something like this has been amazing. He can just run and tries hard. He knows he is supposed to win when those horses are ahead of him.”
Leatherbury has 52 training titles at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course on his resume, winning 24 of 28 meets at Laurel from 1981 to 1996 and winning or sharing 26 of 35 meets at Pimlico from 1974 to 1997. He had four consecutive 300-win campaigns in the mid-1970’s and was the nation’s leading conditioner in 1977 and 1978. Though he currently ranks fourth on the all-time win list with 6,423 career winners, Leatherbury is not a member of the Racing Hall of Fame.
“I understand that it is the president of the organization’s belief that whoever gets elected should perform at the top level of racing, which I don’t,” said Leatherbury, who saddled his first winner in 1959 at Sunshine Park. “One of my sportswriter supporters asked him and that answer is what was relayed to me. If that is the reason then I understand.”
LONG LIVE THE KING
- became the third trainer in history to win 6,000 races when Cherokee Sunrise won at Timonium on August 23, 2003
- moved ahead of Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg and into fourth place on the all-time win list with a pair of victories at Laurel Park on January 18, 2014
- in his heyday, Leatherbury was one of the “Big Four” of Maryland racing along with Buddy Delp, Dick Dutrow and John Tammaro—conditioners who dominated the mid-Atlantic circuits during the 1970’s
- Catatonic won the Hempstead (G1) at Belmont Park in 1987
- Taking Risks had five stakes wins in 1994, including the Iselin Handicap (G1) at Monmouth Park, three graded races in Maryland (William Donald Schaefer, Baltimore Breeders’ Cup & Jennings Handicap) and the Maryland Million Classic
- also won graded races with Learned Jake, Ameri Valay, Dynamic Trick and Ah Day
- has saddled four Preakness starters: Indigo Star (fifth-1978), Thirty Eight Paces (fourth-1981), I Am The Game (fourth-1985) and Malibu Moonshine (eighth-2005)
The University of Maryland graduate is currently tied for eighth place in the Laurel Park winter meet standings with nine victories from 55 starters.
(Featured image by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.)