07/06/2016 11:26AM

Ben's Cat rested and ready for Parx Dash

Barbara D. Livingston
Ben's Cat, winning the Jim McKay Sprint, runs in the Parx Dash for the sixth straight year.

Ben’s Cat began his 10-year-old season in style with two straight wins. But he was a little late to find his best stride in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup on June 4 at Penn National, and his rally fell 1 1/2 lengths short. Still, it was a pretty good try.

On Saturday, Ben’s Cat will face his toughest challenge of the year in the Grade 3, $200,000 Parx Dash. The 10-horse field includes Jaipur Stakes winner Pure Sensation, Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup winner Take Cover, Churchill Turf Sprint winner Rocket Heat, and the always-tough Power Alert.

King Leatherbury, the 83-year-old Hall of Fame trainer of 32-time winner Ben’s Cat, said he knew the Governor’s Cup was going to be a difficult race because Ben’s Cat was coming back on 15 days’ rest after winning the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico for the fourth time in a row and the fifth time overall.

“Even before the race, I was saying that he was trying to win his third race in five weeks,” Leatherbury said. “And what does that remind you of? The Triple Crown. It is very hard to do, and that’s what he was confronted with. I wasn’t worried about the opposition, I was worried about having three races in five weeks.”

Ben’s Cat has had five weeks off since the Governor’s Cup. He blew out a bullet three furlongs at Laurel Park on July 1 for the Parx Dash, a five-furlong turf race. Trevor McCarthy will ride.

“He caught a track he liked that morning,” Leatherbury said. “McCarthy was up on him, and he doesn’t usually work horses fast, but Ben was rolling.”

Ben’s Cat is 5 for 10 at Parx with just under $900,000 in earnings there. This will be the sixth straight year he has raced in the Dash. He finished second, beaten a head, in 2011; won the race in 2012, 2013, and 2014; and was sixth last year.

“He’s on the honor roll up there,” Leatherbury said of Parx. “I’m anxious to run him.”