Maryland-based fan favorite Ben’s Cat is among six nominees for this year’s Vox Populi award. Created by Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, the award recognizes the “racehorse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the public and gained recognition for the sport during the past year,” according to its webpage.
Joining Ben’s Cat on the list are five Grade 1 winners: three-year-olds Shared Belief, California Chrome, and the filly Untapable, as well as veterans Wise Dan and the retired Game On Dude. Wise Dan is the two-time defending Horse of the Year, while Game On Dude was a hard-hitter who won numerous Grade 1 events. Untapable is a shoo-in for an Eclipse for three-year-old filly, while the two males are two of the leading candidates for top three-year-old male (Bayern being the other).
Ben’s Cat, on the other hand, has not won a Grade 1 in his racing career. Yet the now-eight-year-old gelded son of Parker’s Storm Cat has built a devoted fan following by being a consistent East Coast stakes presence for his entire career. He was won at least three stakes races every year for the last five years en route to 27 career wins and earnings of more than $2.2 million.
He has won the Parx Dash and Turf Monster Handicap — both Grade 3 — twice each. He’s also won the Fabulous Strike at Penn National twice and the Jim McKay Turf Sprint, on Preakness weekend at Pimilco, three times. He won the Maryland Million Turf Sprint three times before that race was mothballed. He has won the Mister Diz Stakes five times.
King Leatherbury — who owns and trains Ben’s Cat — bred him in Maryland.
Fans can vote online for the award through December 17, and results will be announced on that website on Christmas evening, December 25.