05/17/2013 3:55PM

Pimlico: Ben's Cat fires late to win Jim McKay Turf Sprint

Tom Keyser
Ben's Cat, 7, improved his record to 21 for 31 by winning the Jim McKay Turf Sprint on Friday.

BALTIMORE – The remarkable Ben’s Cat, trained and owned by the remarkable King Leatherbury, raced to his 21st victory in 31 lifetime starts on Friday at Pimlico with a late-running score in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint.

Ben’s Cat ($4.20), fifth in the six-horse field during the early portion of the five-furlong grass race, came storming down the center of the track to outrun Spring to the Sky by one length, with Bridgetown another half-length back in third.

With Julian Pimentel aboard, Ben’s Cat completed five furlongs on firm turf in 56.18 seconds.

“How often does a horse like this come around?” Leatherbury asked rhetorically. “He’s a very intelligent horse. He knows what he’s supposed to do.”

Ben’s Cat, a 7-year-old gelding, has earned $1,462,290. He has won 13 of 19 on turf, and is 4 for 7 at Pimlico. He has won both his starts this year, and has won five of his last six races dating to last September.

Leatherbury, 81, has been a stalwart on the Maryland circuit for decades. He has won 6,383 races, placing him fifth all-time among trainers.

He said the McKay held special meaning because the late decorated broadcaster “was a personal friend of mine.”