Favored Ben's Cat surged from third in the final furlong to nip Chamberlain Bridge by a head, winning the $350,000 Turf Monster Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) for the second year in a row Sept. 3 over soft going at Philadelphia's Parx Racing.
The first two finishers have now accounted for the past four Turf Monsters, with Chamberlain Bridge winning in both 2009 and 2010.
In a terrific finish over the deep ground, 2-1 second choice Chamberlain Bridge collared pacesetter Great Mills in deep stretch but was pipped at the wire by 19-10 shot Ben's Cat and Julian Pimentel. Eight-year-old Chamberlain Bridge, ridden by Paco Lopez, finished a nose in front of Great Mills and Frankie Pennington.
The final time was 1:00.62 for five furlongs, more than six seconds off the course mark established by Ben's Cat in winning the Parx Dash Handicap June 17.
Ben's Cat, a winning machine during his three-year racing career, is a 6-year-old son of Parker's Storm Cat trained by King Leatherbury for The Jim Stable. The victory was the dark bay or brown gelding's 17th in 26 lifetime races and boosted his career earning past the $1 million mark to $1,161,090. Ben's Cat has now won 8 of 12 at five furlongs on turf.
The K.T. Leatherbury Association bred Ben's Cat in Maryland. Ben's Cat is out of Twofox, by Thirty Eight Paces.
With the Turf Monster victory, Ben's Cat qualified for a start in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park as part of the "Win & You're In" challenge series. However, he would have to be nominated for the 6 1/2-furlong event on the hillside course. If Ben’s Cat is nominated by Oct. 22, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees and provide a $10,000 travel allowance.
Three scratches left a field of eight intact. Great Mills was away best for Pennington and wrested the early advantage from Ju Jitsu Jax, who kept the heat on through an opening quarter mile in :23.32. Great Mils led his pace rival by a half-length after a :47.53 half. Meanwhile, Chamberlain Bridge was a stalking third on the outside, with Ben's Cat reserved in fourth a bit off the rail.
Great Mills reached the furlong marker a length in front of Chamberlain Bridge, who kept battling to reach even terms as they neared the wire. Ben's Cat, angled four wide for the drive by Pimentel, came flying in the final strides to just get up.
Catalactic was 5 1/2 lengths farther back in fourth, followed by Super Chunky, Car Thief, Ju Jitsu Jax, and Kyma.
Ben's Cat paid $5.80, $3, and $2.20, keying a $27.60 with Chamberlain Bridge ($3.60, $2.60), who was third in last year's Turf Monster. Great Mills, the third choice in the field, paid $3.60 to show and completed an all-favorites $78.60 trifecta.
Bridgetown, Royal Currier, and Sean Avery scratched.
Two races earlier, Inspired, ridden by Roberto Alvarado Jr., led at every call to capture the $200,000 Turf Amazon Handicap for owner/breeder Peter E. Blum and trainer Allen Iwinski.
Inspired was timed in 1:00.87 for the five-furlong grass distance to defeat Bounding Bi by one length; Bounding Bi also ran second in last year's Turf Amazon. Sensible Lady, the 7-5 favorite in the field of 10 fillies and mares, was a nose farther back in third.
The multiple stakes winner Inspired, a 5-year-old by Unbridled's Song out of the Mt. Livermore mare Proposal, improved her career record to 8-3-1 in 21 starts with earnings of $439,385. She paid $10.40 for her fifth win in eight races this year.