11/23/2015 1:46PM

Ben's Cat faces tough opponents in quest for fourth straight Fabulous Strike

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Ben's Cat, shown winning the 2014 Fabulous Strike Handicap, will try to win that race for the fourth consecutive year on Wednesday night at Penn National.

On Thanksgiving Eve, Ben’s Cat will try to win the $200,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap at Penn National for the fourth straight year, but it isn’t going to be easy. Favorite Tale, most recently third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint from post 14, also will be making his way to Grantville, Pa., on Wednesday and is the highweight and expected favorite.

The card for the six-furlong Fabulous Strike also includes the $100,000 Swatara, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that Stormin Monarcho will attempt to win for the second straight year, and the $75,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies, a six-furlong race for Pennsylvania-breds.

The Wednesday card begins at 6 p.m. Eastern. The stakes are carded as races 2-4 and will be run between 6:27 and 7:22. There is a 50-cent pick four starting on race 1 and a 50-cent pick three beginning on race 2. The entire card will be streamed live on DRF.com.

:: Penn National: Buy PPs, watch Wednesday’s card live

New York riders Javier Castellano and Jose Ortiz have mounts in both the Fabulous Strike and Swatara.

Although Ben’s Cat is primarily regarded as a turf sprinter, he has a 16-11-2-1 record and $671,630 in earnings on dirt. He ran one of his best races of 2014 in the Fabulous Strike, winning by 3 1/4 lengths.

Ben’s Cat is the co-second highweight at 121 pounds, along with Amelia’s Wild Ride. They both will receive three pounds from Favorite Tale.

“Ben is doing fine,” said King Leatherbury, the owner, breeder, and trainer of Ben’s Cat. “The only thing is the opposition. It’s the strongest this race has ever been.”

Trainer Lupe Preciado considered running Favorite Tale in the Fall Highweight at Aqueduct on Thursday but settled on the Fabulous Strike.

“He’s doing good; we may as well run him,” Preciado said.

Fabulous Kid is cross-entered in the Fall Highweight and is expected to stay in New York, leaving a field of eight in the Fabulous Strike.

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KEY CONTENDERS

Favorite Tale (Last 3 Beyers: 103-105-101)

◗ He ran a strong race when third to Runhappy and Private Zone in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint from the outside post. He scored his biggest win of the season in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint in July.

Ben’s Cat (Last 3 Beyers: 83-97-93)

◗ He missed a planned blowout a week before he finished second by a nose in the Maryland Million Sprint. Leatherbury has worked him three times since Nov. 7, including a mile in the slop Nov. 13 and a bullet half-mile in the mud Nov. 20. Expect a top effort.

Amelia’s Wild Ride (Last 3 Beyers: 102-99-97)

◗ Amelia’s Wild Ride had made 10 straight turf starts before the Woodford Stakes was taken off the turf at Keeneland on Oct. 3. He won that race for trainer Ramon Preciado by 2 1/2 lengths over Mongolian Saturday, who came back to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Scarly Charly (Last 3 Beyers: 83-95-90)

◗ Trained by Mike Hushion, he tired after six furlongs of the one-mile Kelso over a sloppy track last time out. He is better suited to this shorter distance.