07/08/2014 1:12PM

Jerardi: Princess of Sylmar, Ben’s Cat rightfully continue to turn heads

Barbara D. Livingston
Ben's Cat will start on Saturday at Parx Racing in the Parx Dash, a race he has won in each of the last two years.

One of the best horses ever born in Pennsylvania will be running in Delaware this Saturday. One of the best horses ever born in Maryland will be running in Pennsylvania the same day.

The Pennsylvania-bred Princess of Sylmar and the Maryland-bred Ben’s Cat could not be much different in terms of style, history, or the types of races they run in. What they have in common is winning. What they also are likely to have in common by Saturday evening is more than $2 million in career earnings.

Princess of Sylmar will be going after the Delaware Handicap, while Ben’s Cat will be going after the Parx Dash, a race he has won in each of the last two years after losing a photo in the race back in 2011.

Princess of Sylmar, a 4-year-old filly named after the farm where she was born and went through her early training, the Houghton family’s Christiana, Pa., showplace named after PennSYLvania and MARyland (the site of their first farm), will be going for her fifth Grade 1 win after her legendary four-race run through the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama, and Beldame last year. She will be racing the American classic distance of 1 1/4 miles.

Ben’s Cat, an 8-year-old gelding, will be going after win No. 27 and stakes win No. 22 in career race No. 41, running in his specialty, the grass sprint.

“We’re really looking forward to the Del Cap,” said Ed Stanco, who, along with five partners, owns Princess of Sylmar.

The Delaware Handicap is a race Stanco and partners have targeted since last fall. The owner knows the history and would love to see his filly become part of it.

Princess of Sylmar will have a serious following. Stanco figures there were 100 family members and friends at Belmont Park to see her just miss in the Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day. There could be 500 at Delaware Park.

“My wife says everybody in the neighborhood will be there,” said Stanco, who does not live far from Delaware Park in a Philadelphia suburb. “Half of Coatesville is gonna be there.”

Sylmar Farm is about 15 miles southwest of Coatesville, surrounded by Amish and in no danger of ever changing. Stanco asked for permission to name the filly after the farm. She is the marketing campaign that never lets up.

Princess of Sylmar has run 13 times, with nine wins and two seconds. Only running out of ground after starting slowly got her beat in her debut, but she closed strongly in that 5 1/2-furlong maiden race. The only time she did not fire was in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she finished last.

“I saw her the day before the Breeders’ Cup, and she was fine,” Stanco said. “That Friday, when they brought her out, she was soaking wet. In the paddock, she just didn’t look herself. Even my granddaughter, who is 7, said, ‘How come ‘Princess’ isn’t looking at me?’ She was sort of fumbling around. Then, of course, she tripped out of the gate.”

It could have been the Southern California heat. It could have been the travel and the campaign.

“I will never know,” Stanco said.

Princess of Sylmar was sent to Kentucky after the race to be checked out.

“We tested her,” Stanco said. “She had some soreness, but no injuries, just from the long campaign. We had her at WinStar until March.”

Stanco, of course, did not have to run Princess of Sylmar in the Breeders’ Cup. It really looked like she had the 3-year-old filly championship wrapped up. It was a late decision to supplement her.

“If we didn’t go, two things would have happened,” Stanco said. “Beholder would still get the award, and rightfully so. And the other thing that would have happened was I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.”

Princess of Sylmar looked just like her old self when she won a minor stakes April 6 and did everything but win the Phipps.

Princess of Sylmar will be an overwhelming favorite in the Delaware Handicap. It’s hard to imagine her getting beat at 1 1/4 miles, where there is more than enough time for the best horse to get position and make her move.

Ben’s Cat will have just five furlongs to get there against some very strong competition, including Tightend Touchdown and Marchman. More can go wrong in such a short race. With Ben’s Cat, however, even when things go wrong, the horse often makes them right in the end.

So, Princess of Sylmar at Delaware and Ben’s Cat at Parx. Enjoy.

nick More than 1 year ago
Dear Mr. Jerardi, If you are the moderator of your article, why is it ok for Ms. Amy Hurley (below) to insult me and my remarks, incorrectly, I might add, but when I respond in kind I get censured THREE times? I said nothing worse in my response to her than she said towards me, and I had more reason to because she didn't even get the gist of my remarks? Of you have the ability to respond to me I may be reached at nichhedd@yahoo.com. Thanks. Nick Choporis
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amy is a clown. Always has been
Ann More than 1 year ago
You are aware, aren't you, that the first North American-bred horse to win The Derby (at Epsom) was a Pennsylvania-bred by the name of Iroquois? Lyphard was PA-bred. So was Pistol Packer. And Mrs. Penny. And Danzig. The list of top PA-bred is longer than you may think.
Steve Schnell More than 1 year ago
Smarty Jones?
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
I'm a big Close Hatches fan since her score MSW at Gulfstream. I felt she would be the best as they matured. She just beat them (Sylmar 3 times) and gets no national buzz.
nick More than 1 year ago
I am with you, Ian. I think 'Hatches was definitely the second best 3 yr. old filly last year, and she gets absolutely no press. She beat Princess 2 of 3 times last year, and just beat her fair and square this year.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Are we finally gonna see Ben's Cat in the BC turf Sprint? King, you have no excuse. You certainly have the money, you ain't taking it with you. This horse could propel your chances of making the HOF. Ben will love the 6.5f down the hill. Pay the fee and get him in there.
Tyren M More than 1 year ago
Better yet, enter a Win and Your In race.
Steve Schnell More than 1 year ago
King would still have to pay the fee to enter since he's not BC nominated, even if he wins a Win and You're In race. BC just pays for all travel expenses.
Ann More than 1 year ago
So you know all about the finances of running the Leatherbury Stable? Every good horse like Ben's Cat pays for a number of others who disappoint and can't earn enough to pay their own upkeep. Also lots of horse-people have been paying off pre-recession debts (when stallion seasons and yearling prices were sky-high) for several years as well, and the man has to retire sometime. The evidence is that the horses who are regular runners down the hill have a huge advantage in the BC Sprint over horses who have been running 5f-5.5f. In the 4 BC Turf Sprints run down the hill, all 4 winners have been locals and most those on the board have been, too.
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
Bens cat wouldn't have a chance at the BC race. He's made a living at winning at bad tracks with little competition. He finally ran at Belmont last race and finished mid pack with no excuses against an ok field. He's a nice horse at what he does but he has no shot to step up at a BC
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
He talks nice about you too...
edb More than 1 year ago
Awesome answer. Horse is a win machine. Does not disappoint often. Don't beat a live horse.
. More than 1 year ago
You are a good writer, the back story on Princess of Sylmar. was excellent. turns out She's from my backyard I did not know this. It's amazing how often there's a heavy favorite in the Handicap. Going for a 5th Grade I is not an easy feat at all I don't have the form for Saturday , I do recall she's not a speed burner early
Anna Montanucci More than 1 year ago
Horses such as Ben's Cat and Princess of Sylmar show us that there's life after the Triple Crown. One of the all time best races I ever had the privilege of witnessing was the 2011 Delaware Handicap in which Blind Luck beat Havre de Grace by about 3 inches. I hope this year's DelCap is half as good.
Tyren M More than 1 year ago
If Molly is for real, not just a CD horse...maybe.
nick More than 1 year ago
16 paragraphs about Princess Of Sylmar, 2 paragraphs about Ben's Cat. Quite an article about Ben's Cat, Mr. Jerardi. Just another lovefest for Princess of Sylmar, who wasn't even the second best 3 year old filly last year.
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
That is so ignorant. Anyone who has read Mr. Jerardi or listened to him over the past few years knows that he LOVES Ben's Cat, and he is constantly campaigning for King Leatherbury to enter the HOF. He's just mentioning 2 of the most dominant horses running in the mid-Atlantic this weekend. Anyway, I'm looking forward to both races, especially the Princess in the Del Cap. You really have to admire Mr. Stanco's sportsmanship in taking his filly out to S.A. last year for the B.C. Hope she will do so again this year, although the S.A. track is not conducive to her running style
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
The Owners, Trainers and Barns could not be more different either.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Pletcher couldn't shine Leatherburys' shoes.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
With those small fields at Parx Sat wont be much heads turning. I'd love to go and see the race since I live close but the card itself is not even near playable. Hope Sept is better.