By John Scheinman
Trainer King Leatherbury said Sept. 20 he has decided to run his millionaire star Ben's Cat in the $100,000 Laurel Dash, a six-furlong grass sprint, rather than shooting for the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash on the dirt on the same card Sept. 21 at Laurel Park.
Ben's Cat, owned and bred by Leatherbury, is 4-5 on the morning line for the Dash; he would have been the 9-2 second choice behind Sage Valley
in the De Francis.
"I'm unbeatable in the turf and I'll take a sure thing over gambling," Leatherbury said. "It was a tough decision. It was a lot of money. I was telling everyone yesterday there was an 80 percent chance I was running in the big race. I looked at it. The turf race came up extremely easy, and it's two horses in the big race that I don't have to beat."
Ben's Cat, a 7-year-old Maryland-bred Parker's Storm Cat
gelding, won the 2011 Laurel Dash and was second in last year's edition by three-quarters of a length to Jazzy Idea
. He comes off a third-place finish in the Sept. 2 Turf Monster Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Parx Racing, and before that won the July 5 Parx Dash Handicap (gr. IIIT).
Overall, Leatherbury's homebred out of the Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox has a 22-3-3 record from 34 starts, with earnings of $1,635,640. On turf, Ben's Cat is 14-2-2 from 22 starts.