Ben's Cat.

Ben's Cat.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Ben's Cat Set for 10-Year-Old Debut

The multiple grade III winner returns to the races at Laurel after a winter break.

Maryland-bred Ben's Cat, a multiple grade III winner, is set to make his 10-year-old debut in the fourth race May 1 at Laurel Park, a 5 1/2-furlong turf allowance.

Bred, owned, and trained by Hall of Famer King Leatherbury, Ben's Cat drew the outside in the field of nine and will have current meet-leading rider Trevor McCarthy aboard for the first time.

"This is our comeback race," Leatherbury said. "We were fortunate to have this race fill. He's good. He's doing well for an old boy. And, me too."

Leatherbury plans to use the race as a stepping stone to the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint May 20 at Pimlico Race Course. Ben's Cat has won that race three straight years and four of the last five.

"I'm not expecting a big number (Sunday)," Leatherbury said. "Hopefully, I'll get the big number in the Jim McKay."

This will be the first start for Ben's Cat since finishing seventh in the Fabulous Strike Handicap last November at Parx Racing. Following his annual winter vacation, he rejoined Leatherbury at Laurel and has had seven works over the main track since mid-March, most recently going five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 April 22.

"I'm tickled to get the big man back in action,"  Leatherbury said.

Ben's Cat has 30 wins, 25 of them in stakes, and nearly $2.5 million in earnings from 53 lifetime starts. Forty-one of those starts came under journeyman Julian Pimentel, including 30 in a row dating back to June 17, 2012.

Pimentel is expected to ride Friday at Laurel for just the second time since breaking his foot in late February. McCarthy will be just the sixth jockey to ride Ben's Cat.

"There's been a lot of riders that have been on him and won on him," Leatherbury said. "Pimentel has a foot problem, so we're going to Trevor. Pimentel was his regular rider and he did a really good job. At no time did I ever blame him for any problem."