06/02/2016 12:40PM

Ben's Cat, Spring to the Sky rematched in Pennsylvania Governor's Cup

Debra A. Roma
Ben's Cat (right), who defeated Spring to the Sky (left) by a neck in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint, faces that rival again in the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup.

The three undercard stakes on the Penn Mile program Saturday evening at Penn National Race Course are light on numbers but are still difficult handicapping assignments.

The three stakes are linked by a 50-cent pick three and are the first three legs of a pick four that concludes with the Penn Mile. The stakes are carded as races 1-4. First post is 6:05 p.m. Eastern. The entire card will be streamed live on DRF.com.

The three undercard stakes are the $200,000 Penn Oaks, a one-mile turf race; the $150,000 Governor’s Cup, a five-furlong turf sprint; and the $200,000 Mountainview Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race.

The Governor’s Cup will rematch Ben’s Cat and Spring to the Sky, who were separated by a neck when first and second in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico on May 20. Ben’s Cat looked beaten at the furlong pole of that race but surged between horses to win in the shadow of the wire.

Ben’s Cat is now 2 for 2 at age 10 for King Leatherbury, his owner, trainer, and breeder. This will be Ben’s Cat’s fifth appearance in the Governor’s Cup, which he won by a neck in 2011. Last year, he dropped a nose decision to Amelia’s Wild Ride in this race. He finished third in 2013 and fourth in 2014.

Spring to the Sky, trained by Bruce Brown, ran very well in the McKay, reeling in the front-running Rocket Heat in the stretch. Like so many before him, he just couldn’t cope with Ben’s Cat nearing the finish line.

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Cyclogenisis, trained by George Weaver, is an interesting horse in this spot, having won his first three career starts before shipping to England for the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. He finished 14th in that race and then wasn’t as sharp in his final two starts of the season as he had been previously. This will be his sixth career race and his first since last October. Javier Castellano rides.

The Penn Oaks matches Pricedtoperfection, the winner of the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream Park in January, against Sweet Victory, the winner of the Honey Ryder Stakes at Gulfstream on May 7. Chad Brown trains Pricedtoperfection, and Sweet Victory is from the barn of Todd Pletcher.

But there are other possibilities in here. Involuntary is 2 for 2 for Arnaud Delacour, having won at Tampa Bay Downs and Pimlico. Outsider Art has run well in graded-stakes company in Kentucky for Jonathan Sheppard.

And then there is Conquest Serenade, who has won a first-level optional race at Churchill Downs and a maiden race at Keeneland in her last two starts for trainer Mark Casse.

Although this will be Conquest Serenade’s turf debut, Casse said she did train on grass last winter.

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“We have our own grass course in Ocala, and we’ve had her on it several times,” Casse said. “She’s not going in there blind.”

Conquest Serenade is also a half-sister to a turf stakes winner and to a multiple stakes winner on synthetic surfaces.

“I think she’s a rising star,” Casse said.

The Mountainview Handicap field of five includes S’maverlous, Red Rifle, and Top Billing.

S’maverlous, trained by Mike Maker, ran an even fifth last out in the $1.25 million Charles Town Classic, in which Stanford and Page McKenney raced in first and second the whole way through measured fractions.

Red Rifle has not shown much life in his two starts this year but ran some remarkable races last year for Pletcher and is eligible to wake up.

The late-running Top Billing will be equipped with blinkers for the first time by trainer Shug McGaughey and is a threat if the pace melts down. According to Daily Racing Form statistics, Top Billing will be McGaughey’s first Penn National starter.