11/24/2010 9:44PM

Ben's Cat works hard to remain undefeated

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Ben's Cat, on the rail under Julian Pimentel, holds off Fonda Ronda to collect his eighth consecutive win since launching his career in April.

Ben’s Cat had a tougher time than expected, but managed to extend his unbeaten streak to eight races in Wednesday’s $36,000 allowance feature at Laurel Park.

The 6-5 favorite under regular rider Julian Pimentel, Ben’s Cat ($4.40) held off a late rally by longshot Fonda Ronda to prevail by a half-length, covering one mile in 1:39.08..

“That was scary. He almost got beat,” said owner-trainer King Leatherbury. “The jock says that once he gets to the front then he plays around.”

Ben’s Cat sustained a broken pelvis as a 2-year-old and did not make his first career start until six months ago at Pimlico. Since then the 4-year-old Ben’s Cat won three turf stakes races at Laurel, capturing the Mister Diz on Aug. 21, the Maryland Million Turf Sprint on Oct. 2, and the Find Handicap on Oct. 30.

“You have to think he is a better turf horse,” said Leatherbury of his home-bred. “I can’t feel as good about him as I did Ah Day because this was an allowance race and he just did win. We are going to have to step up the competition next time.”

Leatherbury ranks third on the all-time win list with 6,311 career victories and has conditioned Grade 1 winners Catatonic and Taking Risks, 10-time stakes winner Ah Day, and four Preakness starters.

* Saturday’s $50,000 Jennings Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race for Maryland-breds was canceled when only two horses, Regal Solo and In the Juice, entered.