The connections of four-time Maryland Horse of the Year and multi-million-dollar earner Ben's Cat, who succumbed to complications from colic surgery soon after retiring from racing earlier this summer, announced July 31 that he will be returned to Maryland and buried at Laurel Park.
"King Leatherbury asked if we would bury Ben's ashes at Laurel, since that is where he spent most of his life," said Georganne Hale, Vice President of Racing for the Maryland Jockey Club. "Ben's ashes will be laid to rest next to the historic Laurel paddock, which will allow fans the opportunity to visit his plot."
Bred, owned and trained by Hall of Fame conditioner King Leatherbury, Ben's Cat raced exclusively in the Mid-Atlantic region. In a career that saw him make 63 trips to the starting gate, Ben's Cat won 32 races (26 of which came in stakes or graded stakes events) and earned $2,643,782.
Ben's Cat, who did not begin his racing career until age 4 due to a fractured pelvis, earned the love and admiration of racing fans throughout the country, especially in his home base of Maryland. He earned back-to-back-to-back victories in the Turf Monster Handicap (G3T) in 2011 through 2012 and the Parks Dash Handicap (G3) in 2012 through 2014. He also won a record six installments of the Mister Diz Stakes in 2010 through 2015, and five editions of the Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes in 2011 and 2013 through 2016. While Ben's Cat was primarily a turf sprint specialist, he showed his propensity for the dirt as well, winning the Fabulous Strike Stakes in three consecutive years from 2012 to 2014.
The winningest son of Parker's Storm Cat, Ben's Cat was produced by the stakes-placed Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox, who was also bred, owned and trained by Leatherbury.
Ben's Cat retired in June 2017 to Bayne and Chris Welker's Spring Ridge Farm near Versailles, Ky. On the day of his arrival, Chris told the media she was looking forward to giving the gelding some well-deserved time off in the Bluegrass and said she would eventually let the horse tell her what he enjoyed doing, whether that be trail riding, jumping or simply enjoying retirement.
The Maryland Jockey Club announced in July that it is planning a celebration of Ben's Cat's life and legacy of this fall at Laurel Park on Nov. 11, which will include a bobblehead giveaway in the champion's likeness.
"It will be a very special day for Maryland's hero," said Hale. "We hope all of Ben's fans come out to honor him at Laurel Park on that day."