07/10/2014 11:04AM

Ben’s Cat seeks three-peat in Parx Dash against deep field

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Ben's Cat, shown winning last year's Parx Dash, will start on Saturday at Parx Racing in this year's renewal of that race. He also won the Parx Dash in 2012.

As is typical in graded turf sprints, the field for Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Parx Dash is extremely deep. The main matchup, and it is a good one, centers around Ben’s Cat, Marchman, and Tightend Touchdown. But lurking right below the surface are Stormofthecentury, who closed fast in his latest, and the lightly raced, still improving Sharp Sensation.

There is a lot of speed in the five-furlong Dash, which works in favor of the aforementioned runners, all of whom have shown the ability to come from off the pace. So, where do you start when handicapping this race? With Ben’s Cat and The King, of course.

“He won this race last year, and I expect a repeat,” said trainer King Leatherbury.

Ben’s Cat, who also won the race in 2012, is just $14,010 short of $2 million in earnings. He should have surpassed that mark in his last start when Leatherbury made a rare trip to New York for the Jaipur, but Ben’s Cat encountered a rare troubled trip and had to settle for fourth.

“He did not get a good trip last time, no, sir,” Leatherbury said.

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Regular rider Julian Pimentel had to steady twice during the first half of the six-furlong Jaipur, and then Ben’s Cat raced in traffic into the stretch. He didn’t punch as hard as expected after that, but look for better Saturday.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 9 Ben’s Cat. Trainer King Leatherbury is 5 for 45 (and four of those wins were by Ben’s Cat) with a $1.08 ROI over the past five years with all starters at Parx. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Marchman finished an unlucky second in the Jaipur for trainer Bret Calhoun. He ran what appeared to be a winning race after stalking and then taking the lead, but Undrafted unleashed a powerful closing kick and roared by in the final sixteenth. On Saturday, Undrafted will race in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket for trainer Wesley Ward and NFL wide receiver Wes Welker.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 10 Marchman. Never out of the money in five starts, when sprinting on turf over a firm surface. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

Trainer Jason Servis lost Tightend Touchdown for $30,000 in his final start of 2012 but claimed him back for $35,000 in his 2013 debut. Tightend Touchdown has since earned $505,500. He finished fast to win the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National for the second straight year in his most recent start.

“He’s a very honest horse,” Servis said.

Stormofthecentury was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Tightend Touchdown in the Governor’s Cup, but he was running hard late at 13-1. He should be a nice price again Saturday.

Sharp Sensation is just beginning his career for the Woodbine-based Reade Baker and is 4 for 6, all over synthetic surfaces. He ran by the hard-knocking Sum of the Parts fairly easily to win the $100,000 Boyes Memorial at Presque Isle last out.

The speed in Saturday’s 10-horse field is likely to come from Bold Thunder, who was nipped for second by Stormofthecentury in the Governor’s Cup; This Ain’t No Bull; Quality Lass; Mongolian Saturday; and Atlantic Seaboard.