King T. Leatherbury's homebred Ben's Cat
was named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year for an unprecedented third time in the annual poll conducted by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.
In addition, the popular gelding has become the most decorated state-bred in the 62-year history of the awards, taking three divisional categories in 2013—champion older male, sprinter, and turf horse—to increase his total to 10.
Incredibly consistent, Ben's Cat produced a near-identical season to that of 2012, winning five of eight starts, all in stakes company, and earning $505,350, the most of any Maryland-bred for the year.
He defended his title in Parx Racing
's Parx Dash Handicap, a grade III for the first time last year, as well as the Fabulous Strike Handicap at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
, the latter his only start on the main track.
The dark bay kicked off his 7-year-old campaign with a fourth consecutive victory in Pimlico's Mister Diz Stakes. He also won, for the second time in three years, the Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes at Pimlico and the Laurel Dash Stakes at Laurel. His other three starts resulted in stakes-placings. He finished second by a neck in the one-mile Maryland Million Turf Stakes, his only start beyond six furlongs, and was third in the Turf Monster Handicap (gr. III) and Pennsylvania Governor's Cup Handicap.
The son of Parker's Storm Cat out of Twofox, by Thirty Eight Paces, unraced until May of his 4-year-old season in 2010, has won 24 of his 37 lifetime starts, with four seconds and three thirds, for career earnings of $1,862,640, ranking him eighth on the all-time list of top-earning Maryland-bred runners. He has been named champion turf runner four times (2010-2013), champion older male from 2011-2013, and sprinter in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Other divisional honorees:
2-year-old male: Joint Custody (Outflanker—Paying Off, by Malibu Moon). Bred by Janet Wayson; owned by Konrad M. Wayson; trained by John J. Robb.
2-year-old filly: Jonesin for Jerry (Great Notion—Derwin's Lady, by Langfuhr). Bred by Roland Farm; owned by Brad Gould Jr. and Hidden Hill Farm; trained by John J. Robb.
3-year-old male: Grateful Nation (Great Notion—Trueytoo, by Concern). Bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman and Rebecca Davis; owned by Rebecca B. Davis; trained by Richard W. Small.
3-year-old filly: Walkwithapurpose
(Candy Ride —
Lightning Lydia, by Broad Brush). Bred and owned by Sagamore Farm LLC; trained by Ignacio Correas IV.
Older female: Bold Affair (Two Punch—Hunka Hunka Lori Z, by Colonial Affair). Bred and owned by Charles Reed and Michael Zanella; trained by Howard Wolfendale.
Steeplechaser: Foyle (Yarrow Brae—Londonderry, by Perfecting). Bred by Mrs. C. Frank Hopkins; owned by Merriefield Farm; trained by H. Bruce Fenwick.