Remarkable old-timer Ben's Cat did not disappoint in his season debut April 5, taking the $75,000 Mister Diz Stakes for the fifth year in a row at Pimlico Race Course (VIDEO) .
Jockey Julian Pimentel kept the 8-year-old Parker's Storm Cat gelding under a snug hold until a furlong from home, then signaled for him to go and spurted away to win the five-furlong turf event by 1 3/4 lengths over Sonny Inspired. Relentless Move finished another length back in third as Ben's Cat completed the distance on good turf in 1:01.75
"The horse outside of us (Relentless Move) wanted to go, so we just stayed with him," Pimentel said. "We didn't have a plan. I always just let him do his thing. He seems to know what to do and when to do it. He is as good now as he has ever been."
Out of the Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox, King Leatherbury's homebred gelding has amassed more than $500,000 in earnings for three consecutive years and ranks eighth on the all-time Maryland-bred list with $1,907,640. He is now 25-of-38 lifetime with 20 stakes victories. Pimentel has been aboard for 17 of the wins.
"It's an amazing thing. This horse is better than ever. I've run out of material talking about him," Leatherbury said. "His disposition is very mild but he's started to show more fire the last year or so."
Leatherbury said Ben's Cat will make his next start in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint on Black-Eyed Susan Day (May 16), a race he won in 2011 and 2013.
"This is the best he has ever been coming back off his winter layoff," said Avon Thorpe, Leatherbury's assistant. "He is training better than ever before. I am expecting a really big year."