From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Hall of Fame trainer King Leatherbury reported Thursday that his 9-year-old graded-stakes winner Ben’s Cat will get the winter off after finishing seventh Nov. 24 in the Fabulous Strike Handicap at Penn National.
It will mark the fifth consecutive year that the popular Maryland-bred’s final seasonal start came at Penn National in the Fabulous Strike or its predecessor race, the Six Bits. He has won the Fabulous Strike three times.
“He came out OK, but not good enough to run back again this year,” said Leatherbury, whose popular homebred gelding has amassed 30 victories from 53 starts and $2.49 million. “I don’t want to waste his rest time, because if I run him one more time the later he’ll come back in the spring.”
After a second-place finish in a Pimlico allowance to start his 2015 season, Ben’s Cat won the Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes in May on Black-Eyed Susan Day and was welcomed back to the winner’s circle with a standing ovation. The gelding won the Mister Diz for the sixth consecutive year at Laurel Park. His season also included narrow, nose defeats in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National and in the Maryland Million Sprint.
Leatherbury sent Ben’s Cat to Stephanie Nixon’s farm in Virginia, where he was greeted with a “Welcome Back” sign.
“I thought that was pretty neat,” Leatherbury said.
Leatherbury, who confirmed earlier this week that he intended to race the son of Parker’s Storm Cat in 2016, was noncommittal about when Ben’s Cat would return to the races. But when informed of the Ben’s Cat Stakes for Maryland-breds on March 19 at Laurel, Leatherbury replied; “Wow, I didn’t know about that. Maybe I’ll have to crank him back up a little earlier to get ready for that.”