05/14/2014 11:22AM

Local legend Ben’s Cat seeks repeat in Jim McKay Turf Sprint

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Ben's Cat will seek a repeat win in Friday's $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico.

BALTIMORE – There are different types of great horses. All-time greats, the Secretariats and Frankels of the pantheon, and then the lesser local legends – horses like Ben’s Cat.

At age 8, Ben’s Cat has compiled a record, however limited in its scope, that begs the application of the term: Ben’s Cat won’t get into the Hall of Fame, and his niche – sprints, mainly on turf – is fairly narrow, but 25 wins from 38 starts is pretty great.

On Friday, in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico, Ben’s Cat will try to notch win No. 26, and why shouldn’t he get it?

::DRF Live: Get live reports and handicapping insights from Pimlico starting at 11:30 a.m. Friday

Asking breeder, co-owner, and trainer King Leatherbury if Ben’s Cat has lost a step feels like a waste of breath. In his 8-year-old debut here April 5, Ben’s Cat won the Mister Diz Stakes, a Maryland-bred turf sprint, for the fifth year in a row. His margin of victory, 1 3/4 lengths, was identical to 2013, and his Beyer Speed Figure rose one point, from 91 to 92.

“Isn’t that something? When you stop and think about it, to win the same race, especially a stakes race, five consecutive years is amazing,” Leatherbury said. “The average horse is not even around five years after he wins a race, much less being the same caliber.”

Ben’s Cat, easily the best offspring of the $2,000 stallion Parker’s Storm Cat, won the Turf Sprint by two lengths in 2011 but ran well below form in the race’s 2012 edition, finishing fifth. That race, which came 16 starts ago, was actually the last time Ben’s Cat threw in a dud, and he was back to his winning ways in last year’s Turf Sprint, prevailing by a length.

::Watch Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Day card live

Ben’s Cat drew post 8 and will have regular rider Julian Pimentel in the saddle when he faces eight foes Friday. Great Attack, Bold Thunder, Wicked Tune, and Spring to the Sky are his major rivals, and the pace should be strong, which suits Ben’s Cat, who can fall into a perfect stalking trip with an alert break from his outside draw. He is 7-5 on the morning line, but there are ways to back the old boy and come out ahead.

“He was 1-5 last time, but I bet a simple triple, and the horses ran 1-2-3, so how about that?” Leatherbury said. “I actually made money on a 1-5 shot.”