09/30/2014 10:52AM

Jerardi: Career earnings help Ben’s Cat stand out

Barbara D. Livingston
Ben's Cat, shown winning the Jim McKay Turf Sprint in May at Pimlico, has earned $2,175,990 from 43 career starts.

While recovering from the shock of watching Ben’s Cat have dead aim on the front-runners in the stretch of last Saturday’s Laurel Dash and not passing them, I decided to see exactly where Ben, with his 27 wins in 43 starts, fits on the career wins list.

Equibase lists 200 horses who each have won 31 or more races since 1976 while having at least one start in the United States or Canada. So, Ben’s Cat is not far away from cracking that list. If he does, Ben’s Cat’s record will become even more distinctive. There will be exactly one horse on the all-time wins list who has won more money than Ben’s Cat, and that would be the legendary John Henry, with 39 wins and $6,591,860 in earnings from 83 races.

Ben’s Cat stands at $2,175,990 in earnings and counting, just ahead of the very tough New York-bred Say Florida Sandy, who was 33 for 98, with earnings of $2,085,408, in a career that ended in August 2003.

There are just four other horses on the wins list who also won $1 million. Interestingly, two of them, like Ben’s Cat, are Maryland-breds and very familiar names. Little Bold John won 38 times from 105 starts and earned $1,956,406. Little Bold John was tough, talented, obviously durable, and a fan favorite wherever he raced.

The other just happens to be my all-time favorite horse, the great sprinter Dave’s Friend, who started out at the track at the same time I did. He was a 3-year-old the same year as Affirmed and Alydar. By the time Dave’s Friend was done, he had won 35 times from 76 starts, with earnings of $1,079,915.

The two other millionaires on the all-time wins list are the Ohio-bred Catlaunch and the Venezuelan-bred My Own Business.

Catlaunch made his debut Sept. 19, 2003, at Beulah Park. His final race was a decade later, on Sept. 8, 2013, at ThistleDown. The horse started 108 times. All but one start (a 2010 race at Mountaineer Park) were at Beulah, ThistleDown, or River Downs. The horse won 40 times, with 22 seconds, 15 thirds, and earnings of $1,122,309, before being retired last year.

My Own Business won 37 of 50 starts and earned $1,016,908. He was a killer in his home country, not so much here. In six American starts in 2001 and 2002 at Saratoga, Belmont Park, Calder, and Gulfstream Park, My Own Business was beaten by a combined 105 3/4 lengths.

Trainer King Leatherbury was mystified by Ben’s Cat’s third-place finish in the Dash. The horse was beaten by one length after six furlongs on grass in 1:07.99. That the trainer was stunned tells you all you need to know about how consistent Ben’s Cat has been since his debut on May 8, 2010.

And six furlongs on grass has not been his best race anyway. He is just 2 for 5 at the distance while 11 for 18 at five furlongs on grass and 5 for 6 at six furlongs on dirt.

Ben’s Cat likely will have two more starts this year before gearing up for 2015, when he will turn 9 and make a run at 30 lifetime wins. Ben’s Cat isn’t going to catch John Henry, but all those other big winners will have Ben’s Cat to catch on the earnings list when and if the horse ever retires.

Staying on fire at Charles Town

Anyone can get hot for a few days or a few weeks. Owner Robert Cole and trainer Kevin Patterson have been hot all year at Charles Town and show no signs of cooling off.

Cole’s horses have made 76 starts at Charles Town this year, with 33 wins, 16 seconds, and 11 thirds. He is winning at a 43 percent clip, with 79 percent of his starters in the money.

Patterson, who trains for Cole and a few other owners, has put up similar crazy numbers. His horses have started 122 times in 2014, with 50 wins, 27 seconds, and 18 thirds. He has won 41 percent of those starts, with 78 percent in the money.