Ben's Cat Breaks Course Mark in Parx Dash

Ben's Cat Breaks Course Mark in Parx Dash
Photo: Equi-Photo
Ben's Cat wins the Prax Dash.

Perhaps bettors felt Ben's Cat had lost a step when they sent him off at 10-1 odds in the $150,000 Parx Dash Handicap June 17 (VIDEO), but the 6-year-old dispelled that notion with an emphatic two-length victory in course record time.

Trained by King Leatherbury for owner The Jim Stable, the winning gelding completed the five-furlong turf dash in :54.96 over firm ground. He eclipsed the course record at Philadelphia's Parx Racing of :55 2/5 established by Smart Enough in 2008.

Ben's Cat improved his career record to 16 wins in 24 attempts with earnings of $939,090.

K.T. Leatherbury Associates bred Ben's Cat in Maryland. The dark bay is by Parker's Storm Cat out of the Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox.

Ben's Cat recorded his 11th lifetime black-type victory in defeating 9-10 favorite Bridgetown with an impressive turn of foot for jockey Julian Pimentel. Last year, Ben's Cat parlayed a runner-up finish in last year's Parx Dash into a victory in the $210,000 Turf Monster Handicap (gr. III) at Parx, the only graded triumph of his career.

Saving some ground early while racing in third, Ben's Cat waited for room before angling to the outside for the stretch drive. He surged home on the outside of Bridgetown and fading pacesetter Wild Memories, taking the lead at the sixteenth pole and drawing out for a surprisingly easy win.

Bridgetown, always in contention for Corey Nakatani, also took an outside route but could not match strides with Ben's Cat. He finished second by a half-length over the stalking Perfect Officer and Javier Castellano.

Wild Memories, sent off at 35-1, set up the big closing finish with wicked quarter-mile fractions of :21.46 and  :43.58.

Pimentel rode Ben's Cat for the first time since they teamed to finish fourth in the General George Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel Park in February 2011. He was Ben's Cat's regular rider in 2010 when the gelding broke into the races as a 4-year-old and won eight of nine starts.

After a strong 2011 campaign in which he won six of 11 races, Ben's Cat has won two of four tries this season. He began the year with a neck victory in the Mister Diz Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse April 7, but was off the board in his two most recent starts at Pimlico before rebounding in the Parx Dash.

Ben's Cat carried 120 pounds and paid $22.80, $5.60, and $4 as the third choice in the field of eight. Bridgetown, the 121-pound high weight for trainer Todd Pletcher, returned $2.80 and $2.20 while completing a $56.80 exacta. Perfect Officer, the second choice at odds of 8-5, paid $2.20 to show.

Cactus Son finished fourth, followed by Super Chunky, Wild Memories, Latigo Shore, and Poseidon's Warrior  . Ju Jitsu Jax was a stewards scratch.
 

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