05/19/2017 4:00PM

Richard's Boy unseats Ben's Cat as McKay Turf Sprint champ

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Barbara D. Livingston
Richard's Boy returned $7.80 in winning the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico on Friday.

BALTIMORE, Md. – World traveler Richard's Boy won the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint as local hero Ben's Cat abdicated his throne at Pimlico.

Maryland-bred Ben's Cat had won the McKay for four consecutive years, and five times overall. However, he has now lost seven consecutive races, dating back to last year's victory in this event. He was never a threat on Friday, finishing eighth.

Meanwhile, California-bred Richard's Boy ($7.80) returned to the winner's circle after finishing fifth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths, in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in March in Dubai in his first trip outside his home state. Prior to that, the gelding had been on the board in eight consecutive races, with a win in the Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint Stakes in January at Santa Anita. The Peter Miller trainee has now won or placed in 12 stakes overall - and could have punched his ticket for another trip overseas.

"He's a bulldog," Miller, reached by phone, said. "We're thinking of using this race as a prep for Royal Ascot."

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Speedball Pay Any Price, who had established a course record beating a salty field in the Silks Run Stakes earlier this year at Gulfstream, bounced away from the gate, but was quickly joined by Richard’s Boy and Jose Ortiz to lead the McKay field through a sharp opening quarter of 21.93. Richard’s Boy edged up to poke a head in front approaching upper stretch, but the leader refused to give way easily, and the two raced together through the lane, with the Californian holding sway by a neck at the wire.

The final time for the five furlongs was 56.20 on a course officially rated firm. Rain began to fall as the field approached the starting gate, increasing in intensity as the race was run, but hadn’t come down for long enough to impact the turf condition.

After the top two, it was 1 1/4 lengths back to Amelia's Wild Ride, making his first start in more than a year, nosing out Take Cover for third.