10/28/2010 10:56AM

Ben's Cat stretches out in Find Handicap


Ben’s Cat, who has been strictly a sprinter while reeling off six consecutive victories to begin his career, will attempt to stretch out to 1 1/8 miles for Saturday’s $50,000 Find Handicap at Laurel Park.

A 4-year-old gelding trained by King Leatherbury, Ben’s Cat’s longest race has been seven furlongs. His two starts on turf produced daylight stakes victories in the six-furlong Mister Diz and the 5 1/2-furlong Maryland Million Turf Sprint.

Leatherbury shows a decent 3-for-16 record with turf sprinters stretching out to a route while returning in less than 30 days and a 4-for-15 record with a profitable $3.32 return on investment with all his turf runners going nine furlongs.

"We’ve changed the exercise program for his first route assignment,” said Leatherbury, who ranks third on the all-time list of trainers with 6,307 career wins. “I think the distance will be okay. Sooner or later, we wanted to stretch him out. I didn’t want to go from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles right away, but with the race being for Maryland-breds and turf season winding down, we have to go in this spot. We won’t have any excuses.”

Of the eight Maryland-bred opponents that Ben’s Cat is scheduled to face, Baltimore Bob is the only one who has won going 1 1/8 miles on grass. A 5-year-old who has 4 wins and 2 seconds in 6 starts over Laurel’s turf course, Baltimore Bob won the Henry Clark in April while making his first start in 56 days. Now he’s being asked to fire fresh after 103 days on the sidelines.

The best recent turf form going long belongs to Court Band, a winner of 5 of 14 lifetime on grass. He steps up in class following a two-length score over $16,000 starter-allowance foes at Parx Racing on Sept. 21. The last time he faced Maryland-breds, Court Band was a distant seventh, although that was on the dirt.

Regal Solo, winner of the Maryland Million Classic, and In the Juice, cross-entered in the $125,000 Brandywine at Delaware Park, both appear to be entered in the hopes the race gets moved to the main track. They are a combined 0 for 5 on turf.