11/25/2013 10:42AM

Penn National: Ben's Cat meets Ribo Bobo in Fabulous Strike Handicap

B & D Photography
Ben's Cat (inside) beats Immortal Eyes in the inaugural running of the Fabulous Strike Handicap last November at Penn National.

A month ago, King Leatherbury didn’t want Ben’s Cat to face the white-hot sprinter Ribo Bobo at Laurel Park, the home base of Ben’s Cat. Leatherbury, however, is now willing to allow Ben’s Cat to challenge Ribo Robo, a winner of nine straight races, on the road at Penn National in Wednesday’s $250,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap.

Ben’s Cat, whose best surface is turf, will make his first start on dirt since winning the inaugural Fabulous Strike a year ago in the richest of four stakes on the Thanksgiving Eve card at Penn National. The Fabulous Strike goes at 7:22 p.m. Eastern as the last leg of an all-stakes pick four that begins the 10-race program at 6.

Leatherbury, the breeder, owner, and trainer of Ben’s Cat, said he has no regrets about scratching his 7-year-old millionaire from the Maryland Million Sprint, which Ribo Bobo dominated by 5 3/4 lengths, in favor of the one-mile Maryland Million Turf, even though his horse lost by a neck as the heavy favorite.

“I had another choice that day,” he said. “Ben’s Cat is a turf horse, but he’s just as good on dirt. Turf season is about over, and I would like to run him once more and then give him the winter off. This race is the one that’s the most logical, so I’m going to run.”

Leatherbury said he is convinced that he did the right thing by avoiding the front-running Ribo Bobo last time, but he has a reason to believe Ben’s Cat has a better chance in the Fabulous Strike, based on his interpretation of the handicapping sheets he uses.

“Ribo Bobo just exploded,” Leatherbury said, referring to the Maryland Million Sprint, in which Ribo Bobo recorded a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure. “I wouldn’t have beaten him that day. If he does that again, he’s unbeatable. But he ran much faster than he ever did before in that race. If he reacts to that big effort and runs a more typical race, I have a good shot to beat him.”

Jason Servis, the trainer of Ribo Bobo, said he is confident, based on how well his horse ran in his only previous visit to Penn National, an 11-length romp in June.

“One of the reasons that we came for the race is that he ran so well at Penn National earlier this year,” Servis said. “His last few races, he has beat some really good horses, and his win in the Maryland Million was terrific.”

The seven-horse field also includes Kentucky shipper Good Morning Diva, third going a one-turn mile in a pair of Grade 3 events this season, and the 3-year-old City of Weston, who upset the Grade 3 Gallant Bob at 30-1 two starts ago.

◗ Suns Out Guns Out, who was within a half-length of the leader in deep stretch of the 1 3/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Marathon before fading to fourth, cuts back sharply in distance for the $150,000 Swatara. Two starts ago, Suns Out Guns Out romped going a flat mile at Parx, so the 1 1/16-mile Swatara is well within his comfort zone.

The well-balanced lineup includes Taptowne, the runner-up in the Grade 3 Ack Ack two starts ago; Saratoga Snacks, a winner in 3 of his last 4 starts, all against New York-breds; Ponzi Scheme, a close third in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup; and the 3-year-old Edge of Reality, the winner of the Grade 3 Smarty Jones on Labor Day.

◗ Nikkis Smartypants, the winner of the Grade 3 Royal North in July, races on dirt for the first time following eight starts on either Polytrack or turf in the $150,000 Lady in Waiting for fillies and mares going six furlongs.

Other logical contenders include Five Star Momma, a winner of her last two starts in New York by a combined 11 lengths; Sweet Cassiopeia, a turf sprinter who ran second while making a rare start on dirt in the Open Mind at Churchill; and multiple stakes winner Ann’s Smart Dancer, who narrowly missed in last month’s Maryland Million Distaff.

◗ Gracer, third in the Grade 2 Matron, figures to go favored when she adds blinkers while facing seven other Pennsylvania-bred 2-year-old fillies in the $75,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies at six furlongs.

jay More than 1 year ago
Wow! A free article on Penn National.
Anne Mayea More than 1 year ago
Only free one on their web page today
wolves More than 1 year ago
Penn National has some of the highest takeout rates in the USA. I encourage everyone to boycott this track.
Chuck Seeger More than 1 year ago
You are so correct,,, but you're talking to horse players. You know, some of the biggest fools when it comes to understanding the costs of takeouts.
DavidM More than 1 year ago
I agree. It's amazing how many players are clueless when it comes to takeout and frankly it is not complicated. When people dismiss it I simply ask them if store A sold a loaf of bread for $1 and store B sold it for $2 where would they buy it?
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
I have had some huge payouts with King Leatherbury , at 5f, on turf at Laurel,Pimlico Go Ben's Cat. King's cash cow
Walter More than 1 year ago
King, you shouldn't have been so cheap. You should've run Ben in the BC Turf Sprint. You have a lot of money and you coulda won the race!
P More than 1 year ago
The issue isn't being being sporting or not but rather financial. The horse has never been BC nominated as such the nomination fee is significant and compared to the payoff it was a relative modest financial return if he won. Bird in the hand is better than one in the bush.
Mark D More than 1 year ago
$100,000 (supplement) in hopes to win $600,000. Assuming he won...he would have to pay the jockey and Taxes. maybe keeps $400k of the purse...so that's a profit of $300k...betting $100k to win $300k.....He is no idiot.
hialeah More than 1 year ago
Might as well toss in that the BC Turf Sprint was on a downhill course that some horses like - and many don't. Don't mess with the KING - thaynk you, very muuch.
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
these people have plenty of money. kings farm is unreal. i would would think at his age and at this point why not run in the breeders cup just for bragging rites and maybe to say he trained a breeders cup champ .idk
DavidM More than 1 year ago
It is easy to spend other people's money. Are you a politician by any chance?
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
Will he ever get in The Hall of Fame???...He may have blown his last shot @ the BC and the Hall...The King may have run Ben if the BC had been held in KY or NY...Hope they win this one...
Walter More than 1 year ago
If King put Ben in the BC turf sprint & won it, it prob paves the way for him into the HOF. I'm guessing King is pretty wealthy and there is no way to take it with you. He shoulda just gave it a shot.
Paul F More than 1 year ago
hope they cancel the race............ penn national rigged..........save your $$$
Perl More than 1 year ago
It's probably no longer rigged, at least for the time being.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
It will be extremely surprising if they run this card considering the weather reports.