Laurel Park-based Ben's Cat, winner of the $356,000 Turf Monster Handicap (gr. IIIT)) on Labor Day at Parx Racing, is still on the fence for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs..
Though the 5-year-old earned an automatic bid into the race, he s not Breeders’ Cup nominated so breeder-owner-trainer Leatherbury has been looking for an investor to flip the bill on the $100,000 supplemental fee, which is due by Oct. 24, the day pre-entries close.
“We are working on it,” Leatherbury said Oct. 21. “I almost gave up on it yesterday but then we received a shot in the arm this morning. It is just a matter of getting everybody to put their money where their mouth is. I’d say there is a 50-50 chance this is going to happen, up from about 10 percent yesterday.”
Ben’s Cat has won 13 of 18 starts, including eight stakes, with lifetime earnings of $733,230. The son of Parker’s Storm Cat had to recover from a broken pelvis before he made his maiden debut at age 4, and then began his career with eight consecutive victories.
“He has been a tremendous surprise,” said Leatherbury. “I ran him for $20,000 in his first start but he kept winning and worked his way up the ladder. It would be a tremendous feel good story if we tried to shoot for the big money.”
Ben’s Cat has won four of five on the turf this year, the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico Race Course on Preakness weekend, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National, the Turf Monster, and a repeat score in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint at Laurel Park on Oct. 1.
If he decides against running in the Breeders’ Cup, Leatherbury will run his star in the six-furlong $75,000 Laurel Dash at Laurel Oct. 29.
“I would probably be 3-5 in that one,” said Leatherbury. “One concern I have about the Breeders’ Cup is the distance, which is five-furlongs. His running style would handicap us. The other dilemma is that we would need to run 1-2 at the Breeders’ Cup to make any money.”
Leatherbury has 6,330 career victories to stand third lifetime among all trainers behind Dale Baird and Jack Van Berg. He had four consecutive 300-win campaigns in the mid 1970’s and was the nation’s leading conditioner in 1977 and 1978.