Ben's Cat Ventures to New York for Jaipur

Ben's Cat Ventures to New York for Jaipur
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

King Leatherbury's homebred Ben's Cat, who has towered over his rivals in the turf sprint division in the Midlantic region for the last several seasons, ventures north to make his Belmont Park debut June 7 in the $300,000 Jaipur Invitational Stakes (gr. IIIT).

The Jaipur, a six-furlong race on the inner turf, is the second graded stakes on the card that includes five grade Is besides the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

Ben's Cat, an 8-year-old Maryland-bred gelding by Parker's Storm Cat   out of Twofox, by Thirty Eight Paces, has won both of his starts in 2014, both five-furlong stakes races at Pimlico Race Course: the April 5 Mister Diz Stakes and the Turf Sprint Stakes May 16. Ben's Cat has only been the six-furlong trip three times on turf, with two wins and one second. Overall he's 26-4-3 in 39 starts and has earned $1,967,990.

Regular rider Julien Pimentel has the mount on Ben's Cat, who will tote highweight of 122 pounds.

Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens was famous for saying: "Those buildings get mighty tall on the other side of the Hudson," and Ben's Cat will find the opposition stiffer in New York than he's faced in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Martin Racing Stable's Marchman also will be making his Belmont bow but comes to the Big Apple seeking his third graded stakes win in a row. Speeding on the front end under Robbie Albarado, 4-year-old won Keeneland's Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) at 5 1/2 furlongs April 12, then came back on Kentucky Oaks day to win Churchill Downs' Turf Sprint Stakes (gr. IIIT) at five furlongs. The son of Sharp Humor--Sookie Sookie, by Indian Charlie blazed a half in :46 4/5 May 29 in his final prep for the Jaipur.

Local hope Upgrade, a claim by Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables at Gulfstream Park in January, goes for a second Jaipur win after taking a seven-furlong allowance-optional claiming race on the turf May 9 at Belmont. In 2012 Upgrade scored a three-quarter-length victory in the then-seven-furlong race under John Velazquez. While he has two wins and two seconds from six starts over the local turf, the 7-year-old gelding has not tried the trip. From the lone crop of 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam, Upgrade is out of the Fit to Fight mare Emily Ring.

New York-bred Marriedtothemusic will likely carry the field as far as he can. Dutchess Views Farm's homebred 4-year-old by the speedy Disco Rico topped state-breds May 2 in the six-furlong Affirmed Success Stakes on the main track. It is often difficult to translate dirt form to the turf while sprinting, but if anyone is capable it is trainer Linda Rice. Marriedtothemusic has a 7-3-0 mark from 11 starts. Seven of those races have been against state-breds.

Wes Welker's Undrafted was second behind Marchman under the Twin Spires and will be coming from off the pace under John Velazquez. Team Forster's Positive Side figures to be right there off a second to Marchman in the Shakertown (by a neck) and a third in the Turf Sprint.

Wertheimer and Frere's Salto, a 6-year-old Irish-bred trained by Todd Pletcher, shortens up in the Jaipur off a pair of grade III placings earlier this year at a mile at Gulfstream Park.

$300,000 Jaipur Invitational Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 4, 1:16 p.m., 4-year-olds and up, six furlongs, turf
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1.    Spring to the Sky (KY), R. Maragh, 114, B. Brown
2.    Global Power (KY), J. Radosevich, 120, A. Quartarolo
3.    Marriedtothemusic (NY), C. Velasquez, 120, L. Rice
4.    Upgrade (KY), J. Castellano, 116, C. Brown
5.    Anyriderill Do (KY), R. Napravnik, 114, R. Werner
6.    Undrafted (KY), J. Velazquez, 114, W. Ward
7.    No Stop (KY), A. Lezcano, 114, D. Cannizzo
8.    Ben's Cat (MD), J. Pimentel, 122, K. Leatherbury
9.    Positive Side (KY), C. Nakatani, 114, G. Forster
10.    Marchman (KY), R. Albarado, 122, W. Calhoun
11.    Salto (IRE), I. Ortiz Jr., 114, T. Pletcher
 

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