09/21/2013 6:02PM

Laurel Park: Ben’s Cat gets carried wide, but prevails in Laurel Turf Dash

Maryland Jockey Club
Ben's Cat (left) rallies past Mr. Online to win the $100,000 Laurel Turf Dash.

Career win No. 23 for the popular Maryland-bred sprinter Ben’s Cat concluded near the Laurel Park grandstand. Floated wider and wider through the stretch run by pacesetting Mr. Online, Ben’s Cat nevertheless scored a neck victory Saturday in the $100,000 Laurel Turf Dash.

Ben’s Cat broke from the outside gate in a 10-horse field, but his trip under regular rider Julian Pimentel turned out fine until midstretch. Mr. Online pressed fractions of 22.55 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 44.76 over a fast-playing grass course, took over from pacesetting Xmas Sky at the top of the stretch, and then began a journey to the outside rail, taking Ben’s Cat with him. No stewards’ inquiry was required thanks to a typically persevering effort from Ben’s Cat, one of the steadiest winners in Maryland. The heavy favorite, he paid $3.20 to win and was timed in a sizzling 1:07.40 for six furlongs on firm going. Night Officer finished a distant third.

Ben’s Cat, a 7-year-old Parker’s Storm Cat gelding owned by The Jim Stable and trained by King Leatherbury, won for the 23rd time in 35 races. He has won 6 of 7 starts on Laurel turf and is a 15-time winner in 23 grass tries, with earnings of nearly $1.7 million.

Lady Baltimore: Strathnaver regains her form

English import Strathnaver’s second pair of starts in the United States were as poor as her first two races here were good, but she found her better form again Saturday and won the $100,000 Lady Baltimore Stakes by a head over favored Abaco. Inside-rallying Hunter Forward was part of the three-horse photo finish, too, coming home another nose back in third.

Strathnaver, a 4-year-old Oasis Dream filly trained by Graham Motion for Andrew Stone, won a Gulfstream Park allowance race and the Grade 3 Bewitch at Keeneland in her first two races after leaving England, but she then came a distant seventh in the Sheepshead Bay and did no running whatsoever when last of eight in the July 13 Modesty Handicap at Arlington.

It was the good Strathnaver who showed up Saturday, though, as she rallied steadily from seventh in a 12-horse field to just nip late-closing Abaco under Erick Rodriguez. Overlooked in the betting, Strathnaver paid $26.80 to win and was timed in 1:40.98 for 1 1/16 miles on firm turf.

Laurel Turf Cup: Tricky Hat takes advantage of trip

Tricky Hat saved ground and raced in close attendance to a moderate pace, and those two factors led to a narrow score over Eagle Poise in the $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup.

While Tricky Hat had a favorable journey under Rosie Napravnik, splitting horses in midstretch when called upon for a final accounting, Eagle Poise had no such luck. Breaking from post 11, he and jockey Matthew Rispoli could only drop to the back of the field for position, and when Eagle Poise made his move on the last of three turns, he did so racing wide. Eagle Poise, making his second start after a year-plus layoff for trainer Graham Motion, made a strong sustained run, but he fell just shy of gathering in Tricky Hat, the Turf Cup’s 7-2 second choice. Longshot Mucho Mac Macho finished third, while favored Atigun was 10th.

Tricky Hat, a 4-year-old Hat Trick gelding trained by Shug McGaughey, paid $9.80 to win and was timed in 2:30.44 for 1 1/2 miles on very firm going. Tricky Hat won for the fourth time in 10 stars and aced his stakes debut.

* Speedy Yes I’m Lucky ($4.40) seized early command of the $100,000 Laurel Futurity, and though he might not have beaten much, turned in a flashy 6 1/2-length score in the 5 1/2-furlong grass race. Trained by Eddie Plesa and ridden to victory by Chris DeCarlo, Yes I’m Lucky, a son of Yes It’s True was timed in a 1:01.30 over fast-playing ground. Second in the Sapling Stakes last out, he won for the fourth time in five races.

* Aibhilin ($14) rallied from midpack to capture the Selima Stakes, the $100,000 filly version of the Laurel Futurity. The daughter of Sky Mesa trained by Cathal Lynch and ridden by Edwin Rivera, she got 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.25 while winning her second race.

* Heavily favored Madame Giry won a tight photo to take the Jameela Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies.