09/28/2016 1:00PM

Ben's Cat switching to dirt for Maryland Million Sprint

Barbara D. Livingston
Ben's Cat, who has lost four straight on turf,will point to the Maryland Million Sprint on dirt at Laurel Park on Oct. 22.

After beginning his 10-year-old season with two victories, Ben’s Cat has been beaten in his last four starts. His owner-breeder-trainer, King Leatherbury, has altered his normal schedule of races for Ben’s Cat and skipped the Grade 3 Turf Monster at Parx Racing on Sept. 5.

Leatherbury, 83, is now pointing Ben’s Cat to the Maryland Million Sprint on dirt at Laurel Park on Oct. 22.

“I want to support Maryland Million Day, and I’ve got really no other place to run,” Leatherbury said. “It’s not on the turf, but at least it’s a little bit restricted.”

This will be the seventh consecutive year Ben’s Cat will race on Maryland Million Day. He won the Turf Sprint each year from 2010 to 2012, finished second in the Mile on turf in 2013 and 2014, and last year came up a nose short in the Sprint.

Ben’s Cat finished fifth, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, in the $100,000 Laurel Dash on Sept. 10.

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“He came out of the last one fine, but when you look at his record, you’ve got to suspect that maybe it’s the beginning of the end, which is a sad thing for me to say,” Leatherbury said. “He’s right there, and he’s in good spots, but when you ask him to run, he just doesn’t have that kick like he’s had, which is a sad thing for an old man like me.”

 Big week for McCarthy

Jockey Trevor McCarthy had a huge week at Laurel Park, winning with nine of his 25 mounts, and he now leads the standings with 16 victories, seven more than Jevian Toledo in second.

McCarthy went 4 for 9 last Saturday and 3 for 8 Sunday. His Saturday wins included the Grade 2, $200,000 Commonwealth Turf Cup aboard the Christophe Clement-trained Blacktype and a pair of $60,000 Virginia-bred or -sired stakes, the Bert Allen and the Oakley.

Jockeys Gabriel Saez and apprentice Kevin Gomez also had successful weekends. Saez went 4 for 8, and Gomez won with 3 of his 9 mounts.

◗ Rose Brier won the Virginia-bred or -sired Bert Allen Stakes for the third consecutive year. A 7-year-old Mizzen Mast gelding trained by Jane Cibelli and owned by Panic Stable, Rose Brier is now undefeated in four stakes starts at Laurel and is 5 for 5 in stakes in Maryland.

◗ On Friday at Laurel, Chenal will make his debut in race 6, a maiden sprint for 2-year-olds. Chenal, a $310,000 Keeneland yearling purchase by the Shortleaf Stable of John Ed Anthony, is trained by Tony Dutrow.

Chenal is part of The Factor’s first crop and is out of the mare Happy Scene. He is a half-brother to So Many Ways, who won the Grade 3 Schuylerville and Grade 1 Spinaway for Dutrow at Saratoga in 2012.

The following year at 3, So Many Ways won the Grade 3 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs and the Charles Town Oaks when trained by Tom Amoss. So Many Ways was owned throughout her career by Maggi Moss.