Grade 3-winning multi-millionaire gelding Ben’s Cat began working toward his 11-year-old debut with a three-furlong breeze Saturday at Laurel Park.
Bred, owned and trained by Hall of Fame horseman King Leatherbury, Ben’s Cat was clocked in 37.40 seconds over a fast main track in the first timed work since returning late last month from his annual winter vacation.
With regular rider Trevor McCarthy riding at Gulfstream Park Saturday, jockey Victor Carrasco was aboard for the work. The time ranked 11th of 34 horses at the distance.
“He went three-eighths of a mile and he went very nicely,” Leatherbury said. “We’re excited to have him back.”
Leatherbury said Ben’s Cat worked an easy quarter-mile earlier this week. He had been at Horseshoe Hill Farm in Ashland, Va. following his sixth-place finish in the Maryland Million Sprint Oct. 22 at Laurel.
“He was happy to get back, and he looked good,” Leatherbury said. “The girl I had him with, Stephanie Nixon, she does a super job. When she sends me the bill, she writes ‘Give him a big hug from me’ on the bottom.”
Ben’s Cat raced seven times as a 10-year-old in 2016, capturing his May 1 debut prior to a fourth straight victory in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint on the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) undercard. He ran third in three subsequent stakes before finishing off the board in the Laurel Dash and Maryland Million.
Four-time Maryland-bred Horse of the Year Ben’s Cat has 32 wins, 26 in stakes, four of them in Grade 3 company, and $ 2,642,282 in purse earnings from 60 lifetime starts. Leatherbury said he would look for an overnight race to bring back Ben’s Cat as he has the past two years.
“We’ll see how he does and if he can cut the mustard. If he comes back in great shape and he runs good in his first start, then we can’t help but take another shot at the Jim McKay,” he said. “That would be logical, but he’s going to have to run a lot better than he did his last three or four starts. Let’s see how he runs in the races first, whatever I run him in. He’s sound, so we’ll see what he can do.”
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