King Leatherbury and Ben's Cat

King Leatherbury and Ben's Cat

Courtesy of Jon Kral/Maryland Jockey Club

Ben's Cat Tunes Up for Maryland Million

The winner of 26 stakes is nominated to Sprint and Turf, both set for Oct. 22.

Ben's Cat, whose 26 stakes victories include three in the Maryland Million, had his final work Oct. 15 for "Maryland's Day at the Races," set for Oct. 22 at Laurel Park.

Under jockey Trevor McCarthy, the 10-year-old Parker's Storm Cat gelding bred, owned, and trained by Hall of Fame horseman King Leatherbury was clocked in 1:05 for five furlongs over Laurel's main track.

 "We didn't want to do too much with him since the race is right around the corner," McCarthy said. "He felt great. He did everything smooth. He galloped out real well and he came back great, so we're ready for Maryland Million."

Training was restricted to 5-7 a.m. EDT due to Saturday's running of the third annual Maryland Million 5K run, making conditions dark and causing some confusion with the timing of the work.

"Nobody knows the actual time on it, but (McCarthy) said he went very, very good. He said he felt good and went good, and was tickled with it, so we were very satisfied with it. That's the final work until he runs," Leatherbury said. "Everything's done. It's what we wanted and it's what we got."

Ben's Cat won the 5 1/2-furlong Maryland Million Turf Sprint from 2010-12 before the race was discontinued. He finished second in the one-mile Maryland Millions Turf in 2013 and 2014, as well as the six-furlong Maryland Millions Sprint in 2015, beaten less than a length combined.

Leatherbury nominated Ben's Cat to both the Sprint and Turf this year and will take a look at both before making a final decision where to run. Ben's Cat will tie multiple stakes winner In the Curl for the most Maryland Million starts with his seventh and could match La Reine's Terms (2005 Turf) as the event's oldest winner.

"We're going to try to find out how those races come up and then we have to choose between one of them. In the past, the turf race has come up much weaker than the Sprint. However, he doesn't want to go a mile," Leatherbury said. "Every time I've run him (at a mile) he's run right there on the pace, going easy, and then he just doesn't hold on and one or two horses pass him.

"In the Sprint he doesn't win, either, because it comes up extremely tough, even though it's restricted," he added. "There are a lot of horses bred in Maryland and nominated to Maryland Million that are fast. There's no spots on Maryland Million Day that are easy."