By Jerry Bossert
Trainer King Leatherbury was confident Ben's Cat would exit the $100,000 Laurel Dash with another victory Sept. 27, but instead watched the 8-year-old gelding finish third behind longshots Dreamsgonewild and Bold Thunder (VIDEO).
Sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the field of 10, Ben's Cat had the length of the stretch to try and win the Laurel Dash for the third time in four years, but came up short, beaten just a length.
"He just didn't have it today," Leatherbury said. "I don't know why. He went into the race fine. I wasn't worried about the field. He shouldn't have had any trouble if he had been himself. He got a perfect trip. No excuses. This is a devastating loss. This race is right down his alley. No tigers in the field, on his home course. It's very disappointing."
The win wasn't disappointing for trainer Bruce Alexander, as Dreamsgonewild notched the biggest victory of his career. The Laurel Dash was his first stakes win.
"This will pay for a lot of groceries," Alexander said. "The four (Bold Thunder) was in front but we didn't want to be chasing him the whole way. Then my rider heard Ben's Cat coming and the horse pinned his ears back and won."
It was the third win on the day for 20-year-old jockey Trevor McCarthy.
"I'm Trevor's great uncle," Alexander said. "He rode a perfect race. I think I was riding as hard as Trevor was. I think he's going to be one of the premier riders in the country. Very disciplined for a young kid."
Bold Thunder set the pace from the start over Laurel's firm turf course, getting the half-mile in :44.85 with Dreamsgonewild in hot pursuit, but it wasn't until deep stretch when Dreamsgonewild surged late under McCarthy to win for the seventh time from 22 starts, every score notched over the grass.
Owned by Paul Steckel, Dreamsgonewild covered the six furlongs over the grass in 1:07.99 returning $16, $9.20, and $4. Bold Thunder paid $9.20 and $4, while Ben's Cat paid $2.10.
Ben's Cat has won three of six starts this year and has 27 wins in 43 career starts with earnings of $2,175,990.
Dreamsgonewild was bred in New York by Carapan Farm LLC and is by Freud out of the Strolling Along mare Twin Stroller.
Earlier on the card at Laurel, Miss Bullistic ($25.40) upset the $100,000 Selima Stakes, while Cyclogenisis ($2.80) took the $100,000 Laurel Futurity. Medea ($11.40) took the $100,000 Lady Baltimore Stakes, Madame Giry ($3.40) took the $125,000 Jameela Stakes for the second straight year, while Manchurian High ($14.20) prevailed in the $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup.