The Jim Stable's Ben's Cat became racing's newest millionaire with his title defense of Monday's Grade 3, $350,000 Turf Monster Handicap at Parx Racing, and needed every inch of real estate in the five-furlong dash to get up in the final strides.
Ju Jitsu Jax and Great Mills dueled through an opening quarter of :23 1/5 over the soft turf, with Ju Jitsu Jax holding a slim head advantage at the call. Great Mills, racing at the rail, began to pull away from that rival around the turn and ultimately built up a one-length advantage at the eighth pole. Meanwhile, Chamberlain Bridge and Ben's Cat chased the top pair in third and fourth down the backside and swung wide to take aim at Great Mills in the lane.Great Mills looked as if he might have enough left to cling to victory after getting off the inside in the stretch, but the combination of his early exertions and the tiring ground wound up costing him at the end. Chamberlain Bridge and Ben's Cat raced in tandem in the final sixteenth while well out in the middle of the course, and it was Ben's Cat who got the nod by a head with a last, desperate lunge. The final time was a pokey 1:00 3/5.
Chamberlain Bridge, who won back-to-back Turf Monster Handicaps in 2009-10, nosed out Great Mills for the place. It was another 5 1/2 lengths back to Catalactic in fourth. Super Chunky, Car Thief, Ju Jitsu Jax and Kyma rounded out the order of finish. Bridgetown, who would have vied for favoritism, was scratched, as was Grade 1 veteran Sean Avery.
This edition of the Turf Monster was Ben's Cat's 12th career stakes win, and his earnings now stand at $1,161,090 from a line of 26-17-2-1. In addition to his two scores in the Turf Monster, Ben's Cat has also reached the winner's circle following open stakes victories in the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup, Parx Dash, Laurel Dash and Jim McKay Turf Sprint.
The six-year-old gelding also owns stakes wins against Maryland-bred or -sired company in the Find Handicap, two editions of the Maryland Million Turf Sprint and three editions of the Mister Diz.
Bred by trainer King Leatherbury, who also retains an ownership share, Ben's Cat was produced by the multiple stakes-placed Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox, a half-sister to the Grade 2-winning Thirty Eight Go Go. Grade 3 winner Notches Trace and Ah Day also hail from this family.