Ben's Cat Opens Season with Runner-Up Finish

Ben's Cat was making first start since closing 2014 with his 23rd career stakes win.

Veteran Ben's Cat opened his 9-year-old season with a runner-up finish Friday, April 17 in an allowance race at Pimlico Race Course (VIDEO).

A 23-time stakes winner, Ben’s Cat chased Bold Thunder throughout Friday’s five-furlong turf race but couldn't get by and settled for second, three lengths behind the winner. Bold Thunder enjoyed a clear lead at every call in the field of just five 3-year-olds and older and completed the race in :57.62 on firm turf.

Owned, bred, and trained by King Leatherbury, Ben’s Cat was making his first start since closing out 2014 with a victory in the Fabulous Strike Handicap Nov. 29 at Penn National Race Course. Ben’s Cat has won 28 starts overall and has earned more than $2.3 million. This is the sixth season of racing for the Parker's Storm Cat gelding.

“It was disappointing, naturally, anytime you get a horse that wins all the time and doesn't win. But, this is what happens in all races. We know there's no such thing as a sure thing," Leatherbury said after Ben’s Cat finished second as the 3-5 favorite Friday. “He ran a good race, just not good enough.

“He met a horse that had everything his way. He was the only speed in the race, and he's a legitimate horse. He's beaten me before, and I've beaten him several times. He's a nice horse, and he beat us."

Andrew Sulley’s Bold Thunder, who won this year’s Turf Dash Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, has won 7 of 21 career starts and earned $291,280. The 5-year-old Bold n' Flashy colt was saddled to victory Friday by Patricia Farro.

Four-time Maryland-bred Horse of the Year Ben’s Cat had worked four times at Laurel Park following his annual winter break. He had run in 23 consecutive stakes since finishing sixth in an optional claiming allowance on April 21, 2012 at Pimlico.

"This should set him up for the next one. It's been a good spot for us," Leatherbury said. "He'll be ready for that. We'll go on and follow the same format as we did the last few years."