05/16/2014 4:28PM

Ben's Cat does it again in McKay

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ben's Cat rolls to his 26th lifetime victory in the Jim McKay.

BALTIMORE – There’s no doubt, Ben’s Cat has found some easy spots in his day, and realistically, the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint on Friday at Pimlico was one of them. The race was rained off turf and onto dirt, it scratched from nine starters to down to five, and all Ben’s Cat really had to do was show up.

But keep in mind Ben’s Cat is an 8-year-old that has been racing since May, 2010. The fact is, he always shows up, which is why Ben’s Cat won for the 26th time in 39 starts while capturing the Turf Sprint for the third time.

“I kind of criticize myself for taking so much for granted,” said King Leatherbury, who bred, co-owns, and trains Ben’s Cat. “I expect to win. I’m used to winning with him.”

Ben’s Cat has beaten tough horses before – he handled the crack East Coast sprinter Ribo Bobo last fall at Penn National – and his Friday foes had no chance. Breaking alertly under regular rider Julian Pimentel, Ben’s Cat pressed Great Attack through splits of 22.67 seconds and 45.63, collared him in mid-stretch, and went on to a 1 3/4-length victory. Great Attack held second by almost three lengths over Smash and Grab, who stumbled at the start.

“When it was time to go, he just went on about his business,” Pimentel said. “I just hang on.”

Ben’s Cat was timed in 57.75 seconds on a drying-out track rated good. He paid $2.80 as the heavy favorite.

By the little-known sire Parkers Storm Cat, Ben’s Cat started his career in a $20,000 maiden-claimer, won, and ran in a $25,000 non-winners-of-two claimer.

“I thought he was okay. I thought he was a $25,000 claimer in the beginning. Then he started winning,” Leatherbury said.

Ben’s Cat will try to win again in two weeks, said Leatherbury, when he races in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National. There will be better horses awaiting him there than he beat Friday. And Ben’s Cat, brushing age aside, probably will be ready for them.