Tag Archive | "Ben’s Cat"


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Opinions on the 28th Jim McKay’s Maryland Million at Laurel Park

Posted on 19 October 2013 by Gary Quill

Jim McKay’s Maryland Million takes place at Laurel Park on Saturday. There will be a collection of 11 races with total purses exceeding $1 million

The most celebrated Maryland-bred currently in training, Ben’s Cat, will try to become the first four-time winner of Maryland Million races after winning the Turf Sprint the last three years. That race was eliminated by Maryland Million officials earlier this year.

The son of Parker’s Storm Cat, who became trainer King T. Leatherbury’s first millionaire last year, has won 23-of-35 starts for earnings of $1,695,640. But without a turf sprint, Leatherbury cross-entered the 7 year-old in the 6 furlong dirt Sprint Handicap and the one mile Turf.

After the entries were posted, Leatherbury handicapped both races in order to decide which one to run Ben’s Cat.

The Sprint has some really fast horses in it,” Leatherbury said. “With the weight I was given (124 pounds-four to 11 more than the rest of the field), I think there were three that could beat me. I am the best horse in the Turf. The only question mark is the one-mile distance. Handicapping these races was fun. Before doing so I thought I would be running in the Sprint but after looking at the numbers, I changed my mind.”

Ben’s Cat will be the 6-5 morning line favorite in the Turf, which also features Roadhog and Change of Command, the 1-2 finishers from last year. Julian Pimentel will be aboard Ben’s Cat for the 24th time. The duo has teamed up for 15 victories.

For Saturday races the weather forecast calls Partly Cloudy skies, with just a 10% chance of showers, so I’m anticipating a FAST MAIN TRACK and FIRM TURF. Selections for the Jim McKay’s MARYLAND MILLION DAY at Laurel Park, Saturday, Oct. 19th are posted below. Selections posted were handicapped based on making multi-race wagers such as DOUBLE’s, Pick-3’s and Pick-4’s using all three (3) listed for each race in each leg.

1st race – $100,000 MD Million Nursery for 2 y.o. – 6 furlongs
#3 – It’s a Bang (8-5)
#7 – Springs R Loaded (5-1)
#1 – Joint Custody (7-5)

2nd race – $100,000 MD Million Lassie for 2 y.o. fillies – 6 furlongs
#3 – Jonesin for Jerry (4-5)
#7 – Steady N Love (8-1)
#8 – Weekends for Love (5-1)

3rd race – $50,000 Maiden for F&M 3 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 mile on Turf
#8 – Tanka (5-1) *** BEST BET ***
#10 – See What Happens (8-1)
#6 – Very Few Details (3-1)

4th race – $100,000 MD Million Sprint Hcp for 3 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs
#1 – Ribo Bobo (7-2)
#6 – Pitch N Roll (10-1)
#5 – Action Andy (7-2)

5th race – $50,000 Maiden MD Million for 3 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 mile on Turf
#9 – Love Me Du (7-2)
#10 – Star Crossed Lover (12-1)
#14 – Petie’s Boy (15-1)

6th race – $50,000 MD Million Distaff Starter Hcp for F&M 3 y.o. and up – One Mile
#3 – Sister Sharon (8-1)
#13 – Will N Pat (15-1)
#6 – Motherload Hipster (9-2)

7th race – $125,000 MD Million Ladies for F&M 3 y.o.and up – 1 1/8 mile on Turf
#1 – Pagan Priestess (4-1)
#5 – Dance With Gio (15-1)
#2 – Moral High Ground (12-1)

8th race – $100,000 MD Million Distaff Hcp for F&M 3 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#2 – Maddy’s Dance (15-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PLAY $$$
#5 – Ju Ju Eyeballs (8-5)
#3 – Classy Coco (4-1)

9th race – $125,000 MD Million Turf for 3 y.o. and up – One mile on Turf
#9 – Change of Command (4-1)
#1 – Target Sighted (12-1)
#7 – Roadhog (9-2)

10th race – $150,000 MD Million Classic for 3 y.o. and up – 1 1/8 mile
#5 – Seventeenohsix (5-1)
#1 – Eighttofasttocatch (2-5)
#3 – Talk Show Man (15-1)

11thr race – $50,000 MD Million Starter Hcp for 3 y.o. and up – One Mile
#11 – Tooth N Claw (20-1)
#8 – Who Dat Boy (6-1)
#9 – Q’s Jack (10-1)

It’s a beautiful day to go to lovely Laurel Park and celebrate this rich thoroughbred horse racing tradition in Maryland. Good Luck!

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Ben's Cat-2013 Mister Diz Stakes

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Jim McKay’s Maryland Million Preview: Ben’s Cat – Turf or Dirt?

Posted on 17 October 2013 by Gary Quill

Introduced in 1986, the Maryland Million, a program of races restricted to the offspring of Maryland-based stallions, has been duplicated by more than 20 other states. Maryland-sired thoroughbreds are nominated before they become 2-year-olds and remain eligible for life to run in the Maryland Million races. After twenty-seven runnings, more than 220 stallions have been represented in Maryland Million races.

Thanks to Jim McKay’s love of his home state and thoroughbred horse racing, Maryland breeders have one day a year that they can stand proud and potentially pickup a few new clients. McKay originally proposed the concept and remained Chairman of the Board until his death five years ago. Twenty-two times attendance figures have topped 20,000 for the event.

Twenty-seven horses have won more than one Maryland Million event. Nine former winners are entered Saturday, including five runners looking for back-to-back scores: Action Andy (Sprint), Roadhog (Turf), Pagan Priestess (Ladies), Varborough (Starter Handicap), Motherload Hipster (Distaff Starter Handicap).

Only five (5) runners have won three (3) times on Million Million Day… Safely Kept  Distaff-1989-90-91), Countus In (Ladies-1989-90-91), Mz. Zill Bear (Ladies-1993-94-95), Docent (Sweepstakes-2001 & Classic-2002-03) and Ben’s Cat (Turf Sprint-2010-2011-2012).

Ben’s Cat has a chance to move into the record books. Owner/trainer King T. Leatherbury cross-entered the 7-year-old son of Parker’s Storm Cat into both the $125,000 Turf and $100,000 Sprint.

Leatherbury said Thursday morning the decision would go “down to the wire” (he’s expected to decide by Friday afternoon), but may have tipped his hand adding, “A mile is not my choice. If I was writing the race myself it would strictly be sprints. He’s won distance races but they weren’t impressive. He just won them. It wasn’t one of those wows.”.

The first 4,000 full-paid admissions and Maryland-licensed owners and trainers will each receive a free Maryland Million Sport Cap. On-track entertainment between races will include two pony races, Suttler Clydesdales, Goshen Foxhounds, Great Falls Vaulters and Special Olympics Maryland and a visit from Joey of War Horse fame, brought to life by puppeteers. What?! No wiener (Dashsund) dog races?

Party at the Park, located trackside in Paddock Park, will feature food truck fare, a full bar cornhole as well as Jeremy Plonk and Brian Nadeau from Horse Player Now’s Night School providing expert analysis of the card.

HRTV will have a live presence for the entire card with hosts Caton Bredar and Dick Jerardi on site. First post for Saturday’s 11-race program is 12:15 p.m. EDT at Laurel Park.

A few weeks ago, Jose Villegas, an exercise rider at Laurel Park was involved in a training accident which left him paralyzed from the waist down. With the local horse racing focus on Maryland Million Day, Frank Vespe founder of The Racing Biz website spearheaded an online handicapping contest to help Jose and his family.

Please join me as there’s a voluntary/optional $5 contribution to participate. Click HERE for more information.

It’s a beautiful day to go to lovely Laurel Park and celebrate this rich thoroughbred horse racing tradition in Maryland. Good Luck!

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Preakness Funnie with Crab

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Ben’s Cat wins 4th Straight Mister Diz Stakes, #20 of his career; Sunday (Day 4) Selections at Pimlico

Posted on 07 April 2013 by Gary Quill

BALTIMORE, 04-06-13— Make that four years in a row for Ben’s Cat in the $75,000 Mister Diz Stakes. The Jim Stable star from the King T. Leatherbury barn carried Julian Pimentel to an easy 1-3/4 length victory over the firm turf at Pimlico Race Course. “Four years in a row, that’s quite rare,” said Leatherbury, who owns, trains and bred Ben’s Cat. “He is amazing.”

Sent to post at odds of 2-5, Ben’s Cat broke with the leaders, patiently sat off a two-horse duel, moved up and swept by without urging and spurted away. The Parker’s Storm Cat 7-year old completed the five-furlong distance in 57.74 and paid $2.80. Night Officer rallied up the rail to take second and Disco Elvis finished third.

Photo courtesy Jim McCue, MJC

Ben’s Cat is now 20-of-30 lifetime with 15 stakes victories. The win pushed his career earnings to $1,402,290.

Somehow those who vote for racings Hall of Fame have failed to realize “The King’s” accomplishments. Maybe if they took a peek at the record books and saw that he is currently fourth all-time with 6,375 victories, King would be inducted sooner than later. The success of Ben’s Cat has helped revitalize the 80-year-olds career, as King is once again winning at a high percentage.

He brought me back to life,” said Leatherbury, who has 18 victories this year, just seven fewer than all of 2012. “They were about ready to plant me but we have come back to life by investing some of his earnings into the claiming game.”

Leatherbury indicated he expects Ben’s Cat to run in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint on Black-Eyed Susan day, May 17th.

The JockeyWorld.org racing term of the day is #97…  “Extended”

Recapping Pimlico’s Saturday 10-race card posted had 6 winners (3 Top Selections in BOLD type) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $3.60 (1st race), $6.40 (2nd), $12.40 (4th), $5.40(6th), $2.80 (7th) and $8.20 (8th).

The BEST BET of the Day (3 1-0-1) Mabroom (R2 #1 9-5 PT; 4-1 M/L) certainly caught the eye of the betting public as the 4-year-old colt not only went off the 9-5 favorite, but was claimed by King T. Leatherbury. Unfortunately for all who back him he ran a very uninspiring 4th. Being witness to the race, the comment line I’d give him would be “Evenly”, which happend to be the JockeyWorld.org racing term of the day.

The LONGSHOT PICK (3 1-0-0) One More Cat (R8 #5 9-1 PT; 8-1 M/L) had what appeared to be a beautiful stalking trip, pounced on the weakening leaders at the head of the stretch, briefly taking the lead, but struggled in the final furlong and got beat a neck for 3rd, 2 1/2 back from the winner.

SHOW Parlay Play of the Day, $20 on Bet the Cat  (R3 #6; 4-1 PT, 5-1 M/L) never engaged any of his rivals and something may have been amiss, as his jock threw in the towel before the 5/8th pole as he finished last. So in 3 days in we’ve burned through $40, but with $60 left we’ll start over on Day 4.

Selections for the Day 4 Pimlico Sunday, April 7th card are Page 2.

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Preakness Funnie with Crab

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Saturday (Day 3) at Pimlico Brings A Welcome Addition – Turf Races

Posted on 05 April 2013 by Gary Quill

Pimlico Saturday Promotion: Free* Pimlico Cap plus over $20,000 in Win Wagers and Flat Screen prizes!

Two turf stakes, the Dahlia for fillies and mares and the Mister Diz for Maryland-bred sprinters highlight the 10-race card on opening Saturday at Pimlico. The five furlong Mister Diz goes as the 7th race and is headed by Ben’s Cat (4-5 M/L), the three-time defending champion of the race. The reigning star of the King T. Leatherbury stable is 11 for 17 on the grass with career earnings exceeding $1.35 million.

“That might be some kind of a record (winning the same stakes race four consecutive years),” said Leatherbury, who ranks fourth on the all-time win list with 6,374 career victories. “He is coming into the race as well as he did last year. He is very sound and is maintaining his condition. I have had some pretty good runners throughout the years but he has to be considered the best one I have trained. We should be 1-2 in the race and hopefully this is the start of another big year for him.”

The Dahlia Stakes, a one mile event is the 9th race on Saturday’s program. Twelve runners are entered with Julie’s Love, the 7-5 morning line favorite. The 5-year old mare ships in from Florida after winning three of seven starts last year for trainer Graham Motion.

Drawing by Mel @dailyracefunies. To see more of Mel’s work, click here.

Walkwithapurpose, the Sagamore Farm 3-year-old filly who destroyed her competition at Laurel Park during the winter meet heads to The Big Apple. The MD-bred daughter of Candy Ride is entered in Saturday’s G2 Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct. The plan was to run in the $50,000 Twixt Stakes at Laurel Park as a final tune-up for a run in the Black-Eyed Susans Stakes. But when the Twixt only attracted two other foes, trainer Ignacio Correas called the audible. Walkwithapurpose will face five rivals as the 3-1 M/L 3rd choice.

The JockeyWorld.org racing term of the day is #96…  “Exercise Rider”

Recapping Pimlico’s Friday 9-race card posted had a paultry 3 winners (2 Top Selections in BOLD type) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $12.60 (1st race), $29.60 (5th) and $5.20 (8th).

The BEST BET of the Day (2 1-0-1) Hold That Broad (R6 #3 4-1 PT; 9-2 M/L) was bumped at the break, prompted the pace between rivals, dueled for the lead through the eighth pole, then gave way grudgingly while staying on for third, returning $3.40 to SHOW.

The LONGSHOT PICK (2 1-0-0) Artic Raven (R1 #3 5-1 PT; 6-1 M/L) jock took advantage of his less experienced peers, allowing them to battle on the front in the early stages of the 1 1/16 mile event. When their mounts began to search for the oxygen masks, ‘Raven” was full of run in the lane and held off a determined foe for the victory to return $12.60 to WIN, $5.60 to PLACE and $3.80 to SHOW.

SHOW Parlay Play of the Day, $24 on Lindyhop  (R2 #2; 5-2 PT, 7-2 M/L) had a rough trip and never recovered per the Equibase chart, “steadied off heels near the seven eighths pole, regrouped and gained a good position down the backstretch, came under pressure giving chase around the final turn, angled four wide for the drive but had no rally” So 2 days in we’ve burned through the first $20, but with $80 left we’ll start over on Day 3.

Selections for the Day 3 Pimlico Satuday, April 6th card are Page 2.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Top 10 Maryland Racing Moments of 2012

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Top 10 Maryland Racing Moments of 2012

Posted on 21 December 2012 by Gary Quill

With just a few more live racing days remaining in Maryland for 2012, it’s time to recall the Top Ten most exciting thoroughbred chase scenes that took place at a Maryland track.

In 2012 there were over 1,300 races contested at the three (3) Maryland thoroughbred tracks (Laurel Park, Pimlico and Timonium). Of course, the biggest was the 137th Preakness Stakes that saw Derby winner I’ll Have Another chase down Bodemeister in the final yards to capture the second jewel of racings’ Triple Crown.

To the casual horse racing fan, they may only witness races that are broadcast on network television. But 365 days a year somewhere in North America, a track is conducting races. Whether it be a graded stakes or a $5,000 Claiming race, they all hold the possibility of generating great excitement along with a fantastic finish.

Here are my Top 10 Maryland races of 2012. Do you have one that didn’t make the cut?

10. Black-Eyed Susan – May 18th– Race 10 @ Pimlico

In Lingerie looked tight as a drum while impressively pulling away from the field.

9. 107-1 Winner – March 21st – Race 9 @ Laurel Park

A 1 for 18 lifetime low-level claimer Wire Funds proves that running on turf versus dirt can be like night and day. This one was first time on grass (for $10,500 tag) while stepping up from the $5k claiming ranks on dirt, failing to have hit the board in his previous 5 outings. After winning this one, he came back to win his next 3 on the lawn against $12.5k Claimers, $25k Claimers and $43k Allowance company.

8. Mr. Diz Stakes – April 7th– Race 10 @ Pimlico

Reigning MD Horse of the Year Ben’s Cat rallies to take 3rd consecutive Mr. Diz Stakes.

7. Near Triple Dead Heat – March 16th – Race 7 @ Laurel Park

After racing 7 furlongs, no measurement could separate Milwaukee Chief and Artic Raven, while Let Me Be Frank settled for SHOW money a mere whisker behind those two.

6. Ladys Legend for the Cure – May 18th– Race 4 @ Pimlico

Class Rules may have won easily but it was 59-year-old Jennifer (Rowland) Small in who was in the irons, and the other retired female jockeys who made the 3rd annual People’s Pink Party Day a memorable $40k Allowance NW1X race.

5. Rapid Redux notches #22 – January 4th – Race 6 @ Laurel Park

This $5,000 Starter Allowance would be the 6-year-old geldings final race. Retired with a record 22 race win streak intact, he won a total of 28 races from 42 career starts.

4. Frank J. DeFrancis Dash – October 27th – Race 9 @ Laurel Park

Action Andy rallies in deep stretch to catch Il Vilano at the wire. What really hurts is that I had Il Vilano. How many times is the cameraman wrong when showing the winner on the gallop out in a tight photo?!

3. Pimlico Special – May 18th– Race 12 @ Pimlico

Alternation puts in a game performance as he gets the better end of the head bob versus Nehro. Watch the slow motion replay at the wire. Nero actually catches and gets ahead of Alternation 5 feet before the wire. Once again, guess who had Nehro at 6-1?!
The next day I had Steve Asmussen (Nehro’s trainer) crying on my shoulder saying, “How in the hell did he not win that race?!”

2. Double Dead Heat – October 8th – Race 7 @ Laurel Park

Truly a horse racing rarity, as Rockaby Bay and Masterel hit the wire simultaneously for the WIN while just a neck behind Elkhorn Creek and Colonel Bill could not be separated for the SHOW purse, in this $25k Optional Claiming event.

1. 137th Preakness Stakes – May 19th– Race 12 @ Pimlico

I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister, Round 2. If this stretch run doesn’t give you goose bumps, then you must not be breathing.

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2012 Maryland Million Logo

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Jim McKay’s Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park Preview

Posted on 02 October 2012 by Gary Quill

This Saturday (October 6th) at Laurel Park is Maryland’s Day At The Race. Better known as Jim McKay’s Maryland Million, It’s the one racing day of the year in Maryland where owners of runners either bred in Maryland or their sire was state bred, qualify to run on this great day of celebrating thoroughbred horse racing in Maryland. The Laurel Park racing office announced that a total of 155 pre-entries (137 horses as 17 were cross-entered including Steady Warrior who is nominated to three races) were named to the 11 races for the 27th running of this event. First post is 12:35 p.m.

2012 Maryland Million Logo

The post position draw for the $1.05 million day will be held at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 3 in Laurel’s Terrace Dining Room.

Overall 11 previous “Million Day” winners are nominated, including three defending champions: Eighttofasttocatch (Classic), Sloane Ranger (Sprint) and Ben’s Cat (Turf Sprint).

The most decorated of the 137 horses pre-entered is Ben’s Cat. The 6 year old will attempt a three-peat in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint champ. Only Safely Kept (Distaff, ’89-91), Countus In (Ladies, ’89-91) and Mz. Zill Bear (Ladies, ’93-95) have won a MD Million race three (3) consecutive years. Ben’s Cat became owner-trainer King T. Leatherbury’s first millionaire with a repeat victory in the Turf Monster Handicap (G3) at Parx Racing last month.

Ben's Cat and King T. Leatherbury

Leatherbury is tied with Dale Capuano for the top spot in the Maryland Million trainer standings. Both conditioners have saddled nine (9) winners. On Saturday Capuano has two runners entered (Lunar Rock in Nursery and Hero’s Reward in Turf Sprint) while Leatherbury’s lone entry is Ben’s Cat.

HRTV will have a live presence for the entire card with hosts Dick Jerardi (from Philly) and Jill Byrne (a Kentuckian) on site. It’s ashamed that HRTV didn’t have the foresight to contract a native Marylander who closely follows Maryland racing and could provide far superior insight on Maryland’s Day At The Races. Now who (GQ) could they have (GQ) possibly (GQ) have gotten (GQ)?

Dick Jerardi of Phila Daily News + Jill Byrne racing analyst < Gary Quill at Preakness Press Box

An additional promotion on “Million Day” features a FREE Maryland Million cap to the first 4,000 full-paid admissions.

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