01/15/2011 11:47AM

Ben's Cat should feel at home in Native Dancer

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Ben's Cat had won eight in a row before losing his last race.

Ben’s Cat, whose eight-race unbeaten streak ended when he shipped to New York for a two-turn overnight stakes, returns to Maryland and resumes racing around just one turn in Monday’s holiday feature, the $75,000 Native Dancer Stakes at Laurel Park.

The 5-year-old Ben’s Cat, who did not make his career debut until last May after sustaining a broken pelvis as a 2-year-old, will be seeking his fourth stakes victory, but first on dirt, in the one-mile Native Dancer. In his only previous try going a mile out of Laurel’s chute, Ben’s Cat rallied from seven lengths behind at the first call to get up by a half-length in an optional claimer. He paired up that 85 Beyer Speed Figure when he finished second to the multiple stakes winner Alma d’Oro in the one-mile Forty Niner at Aqueduct on Dec. 19.

“I still don’t know if he is a sprinter or a router or if he likes dirt or turf better,” trainer King Leatherbury said of Ben’s Cat. “It seems like turf might be better, but he has run well in every one of his starts. In a perfect world we would use this spot to set us up for the General George.”

The seven-furlong, Grade 2 General George Handicap is scheduled for Feb. 21.

Julian Pimentel, Ben Cat’s regular rider, said the horse has yet to hit his peak.

“I don’t think he has shown me his best,” Pimentel said. “He is always doing something, but if he focused on running he could be a freak.”

Trainer Rick Dutrow supplemented Laysh Laysh Laysh and Arson Squad, but both are questionable to run. Laysh Laysh Laysh would be racing for the third time in eight days if he goes in the Native Dancer. The millionaire Arson Squad finished third in Saturday’s Evening Attire at Aqueduct.

Among the others, No Advantage returns to Maryland for the first time since finishing second in the Grade 3 W.D. Schaefer at Pimlico on last spring’s Preakness undercard. A 6-year-old based at Penn National with trainer Stephanie Beattie, No Advantage most recently ended a 10-race losing streak by taking the Auld Lang Syne at Parx Racing on New Year’s Eve.

Todd Pletcher sends in the lightly raced 4-year-old Global Force from New York. In his first two starts since coming to Pletcher’s barn, Global Force won a first-level allowance and finished second after being involved in a contested pace racing a mile and 70 yards in a second-level optional $50,000 claimer.