Ben's Cat. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

Ben’s Cat. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

From a Maryland Horse Breeders Association release

Call him “four-time Maryland-bred Horse of the Year” Ben’s Cat.  King T. Leatherbury’s immensely popular and ageless gelding earned top honors once again, as well as divisional titles for champion older male, sprinter and turf runner, in the annual poll conducted by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.

Bred, owned and trained by Leatherbury, Ben’s Cat is by far the most decorated state-bred in awards history, with a total of 13 divisional titles in addition to those for Horse of the Year. He has been named champion turf runner five straight years, older male since 2011, and top sprinter four of the past five years. The dark son of Parker’s Storm Cat returned last year at age 8 to compete exclusively in stakes, won four times, with two seconds and a third, and ranked as the leading Maryland-bred by earnings for the year with $458,350.

Ben’s Cat’s 2014 campaign was a near duplication of those of previous years. He kicked it off with his fifth win in the Mister Diz Stakes for state-breds, then followed with his third lifetime score in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint, which came off the turf at Pimlico over Preakness weekend. Other victories included three-peats in the Parx Dash Handicap-G3 and Penn National’s Fabulous Strike Handicap, the latter a dominant performance on the main track to conclude his season. He was second by a neck while giving the winner eight pounds in the Grade 3 Turf Monster Handicap at Parx, and when stretching out to a mile was second again in the Maryland Million Turf. His stakes-placings also included a third in the Laurel Dash. In his first trip to New York in more than three years, he finished an eventful fourth in the Jaipur Invitational Stakes-G3 on Belmont Stakes day.

Out of Leatherbury’s homebred mare Twofox, by Thirty Eight Paces, Ben’s Cat has won 28 of 45 starts, with 10 seconds or thirds, since making his debut in May of his 4-year-old season. With $2,320,990 in career earnings he ranks sixth all-time among Maryland-bred runners.

Other divisional champions:

Champion 2-year-old male: Ghost Bay (dk.b./br.c., 2012, by Ghostzapper-Hope Bay, by Smart Strike). Bred and owned by Howard M. Bender; trained by Lawrence E. Murray.

Champion 2-year-old filly: Miss Bullistic (dk.b./br.f., 2012, by Bullsbay-Miss Lombardi, by Unbridled Jet). Bred by H. Graham Motion; owned by Kathleen Willier; trained by Hamilton A. Smith.

Champion 3-year-old male: The Big Beast (b.c., 2011, by Yes It’s True-V V S Flawless, by Deputy Minister). Bred by Green Willow Farms; owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong; trained by Anthony W. Dutrow.

Champion 3-year-old filly: Daring Dancer (b.f., 2011, by Empire Maker-Vienna Affair-GB, by Red Ransom). Bred and owned by Sagamore Farm; trained by H. Graham Motion.

Champion older female: Awesome Flower (ch.m., 2009, by Flower Alley-Formalities Aside, by Awesome Again). Bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman, Milton P. Higgins III and Three Chimneys Farm LLC; owned by Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey; trained by Michael J. Maker.

Champion steeplechaser: Top Striker (b.g., 2009, by Van Nistelrooy-Two’s Cozy, by Cozzene). Bred by Sycamore Hall Farm LLC; owned by Mrs. George M. Sensor; trained by Archibald J. Kingsley Jr.

The Maryland-bred awards are voted on by the MHBA’s board of directors and staff members, staff at the organization’s Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine, and others with expertise on Maryland racing.  For more, check out the group’s website.