Updated on 10/19/2013 5:46PM

Laurel: Roadhog runs down Ben's Cat in Maryland Million Turf

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Roadhog, ridden by Kendrick Carmouche, overtakes Ben's Cat by a neck in the Maryland Million Turf.

King Leatherbury turned out to be correct when he said a mile might be a little beyond the comfort zone of millionaire Ben’s Cat.

Roadhog foiled Ben’s Cat in his bid to become the first horse to win four Maryland Million races when he rallied in deep stretch to narrowly prevail in the $125,000 Maryland Million Turf on Saturday at Laurel Park.

In winning the Turf for the second straight year, the 6-year-old Roadhog ($9.40) closed strongly under Kendrick Carmouche to get up by a neck. He ran the mile on firm turf in 1:39.29.

Ben’s Cat, the even-money favorite, was racing beyond six furlongs for the first time since he finished a distant fifth in the Henry Clark Stakes in April 2011. He had won the Maryland Million Turf Sprint three times, but when that race was eliminated from this year's program, owner-trainer Leatherbury had to choose between the one-mile Turf and the six-furlong Sprint on dirt.

“He likes the turf a little soft so that wasn’t an issue today,” Leatherbury said. “He raced well but this distance is really not his best. That’s all.”

Ben’s Cat is now 23 for 36 lifetime for earnings of $1,720,640.

Ben’s Cat appeared poised to give jockey Julien Pimentel his third win on the program devoted to the offspring of Maryland sires when he surged past pacesetter Capital Fellow at the top of the stretch and forged a clear lead at the eighth pole. But Roadhog was picking off runners and had just enough yardage left to make the front before reaching the wire.

“I wanted to sit on the rail and wait for Ben’s Cat to make his move at the eighth pole,” Carmouche said. “Once that happened I knew I could run him down because my horse has a better kick going longer. I wanted to be third and then finish. That’s the way it played out.”

A Pennsylvania-bred trained by Elizabeth Merryman and owned by Ellendale Racing, Roadhog has won 9 of 28 starts and $510,964. He came into Saturday’s race off a victory in last month’s Alphabet Soup Handicap for Pa-breds at Parx.

Eighttofasttocatch wires Classic field

On paper, Eighttofasttocatch looked far superior to his competition in the $150,000 Classic, and that’s exactly how the actual race played out on the track.

Allowed to set comfortable, uncontested fractions of 49.26 seconds and 1:13.29 under Forest Boyce, the 7-year-old Eighttofasttocatch rolled to a 3 1/4-length win in the 1 1/8-mile race, completed in 1:50.42.

Trained by Tim Keefe for owner Sylvia Heft, Eighttofasttocatch ($2.80) won the 2011 Classic, but was fifth as the favorite a year ago. He is now 13 for 44 with earnings of $798,430.

“I was very comfortable with where I had him coming into this race, but my concern was that I was comfortable last year and it didn’t go quite as well,” said Keefe. “I didn’t think I needed a prep for this race because we all felt that he was right. I guess my only concern now is that he is 7 and we may only have him for another year or two. He will be hard to replace in our barn.”

Romancing the Gold, making his first start at Laurel following a $25,000 claim at Saratoga, finished second with Wild Louis third in the seven-horse field.

Ribo Bob extends winning streak to nine

Ribo Bobo, who began the year running for an $8,000 claiming tag in Florida, won his ninth straight race in 2013 by dominating the $100,000 Sprint.

Facing just three rivals following the scratches of Ben’s Cat and Pitch N Roll, Ribo Bobo ($3.80) carried Julian Pimentel to a 5 3/4-length score in 1:08.64 for six furlongs, beating last year’s Sprint winner Action Andy. 

“I was just trying to slow him down a bit,” said Pimentel, who now has seven Maryland Million victories. “I didn’t have to do much, just keep him in as he came around the final turn because he was going so fast and running so easily. He is remarkable, winning so many in a row.”

Ribo Bobo’s win streak has carried him from Florida to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland, with the last seven starts under the guidance of trainer Jason Servis and owner Mr. Amore Stable. Running mostly in claimers and starter allowance races, the 5-year-old Ribo Bobo has earned nearly $200,000 this year.

“He keeps moving up and winning races so we will take him to Florida,” said assistant trainer Carlos David. “He is amazing.”

Elsewhere on the card of races for the offspring of Maryland sires:

Monster Sleeping ($10.20), winless in three previous tries on turf, handled the stretch-out from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles to score a two-length victory in the Ladies.

The 3-year-old filly Maddy’s Dance ($29.20) rallied to overtake Ann’s Smart Dancer in deep stretch to win the seven-furlong Distaff for fillies and mares.

It’s a Bang ($6) followed up his impressive career debut by scoring a 1 1/2-length victory over even-money favorite Joint Custody in the $100,000 Nursery for 2-year-olds going six furlongs.

Jonesin for Jerry ($3), ridden by Abel Castellano Jr. for trainer John Robb, cruised to a 5 1/2-length victory in the $100,000 Lassie for 2-year-old fillies going six furlongs.