07/10/2017 1:26PM

Ben's Cat recovering from colic surgery

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ben's Cat's retirement was announced the final week of June.

The hard-knocking Ben’s Cat is recovering from colic surgery performed late last week in Kentucky.

The 11-year-old gelding, who arrived in Kentucky during the final week of June after his retirement was announced, is at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute under the care of internal medicine specialist Dr. Rana Bozorgmanesh. Ben’s Cat had surgery last Thursday to repair an epiploic foramen entrapment – the displacement of a segment of the small intestine through a small hole.

“He’s good – he’s come a long way,” said Christina Welker, who houses the gelding at her Spring Ridge Farm in nearby Versailles. Welker spoke from Ben’s Cat’s stall at the clinic, saying she visits the gelding every day before returning home to care for her other horses.

“He’s still got a long way to go, but he’s come a long way, and it’s only been a few days. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Welker said that while “it’s gonna take time” for the gelding’s intestine to recover enough to resume a normal diet and properly digest food, his attitude is good.

“He’s unbelievable,” she said. “He’s just himself. He’s bright, and he’s pushy, and he knows what he wants and doesn’t want.”

Ben’s Cat now calls Spring Ridge home after breeder, owner, and Hall of Fame trainer King Leatherbury announced the retirement of his stable star. Ben’s Cat won 32 of 63 starts, including 26 stakes races, and bankrolled more than $2.6 million.

Welker, who is good friends with Maryland Jockey Club director of racing Georganne Hale, was among Ben’s Cat’s many fans and had written Leatherbury a letter several years ago to offer her farm – a commercial breeding operation – as a potential retirement location.