Ben's Cat Heads Pimlico's Friday Undercard
The five-furlong Jim McKay is one of five non-graded stakes each worth $100,000 on the 13-race Friday program. It is the ninth event on the card and drew a field of eight.
Ben's Cat, the first to topple the $1 million mark in earnings for venerable owner-trainer King Leatherbury, won the race in 2011 but was upset last year, finishing fifth. The 7-year-old Parker's Storm Cat gelding is a lifetime winner of 20 of 30 races with more than $1.4 million in purses. He has won 15 stakes in his remarkable career.
"Every 80 years, a man gets this kind of horse," Leatherbury half-joked. "He has never been better."
The 77-year-old horseman ranks fifth on the all-time trainers' win list with 6,381 career victories.
Ben's Cat will be competing against another Leatherbury trainee, Kens Cape, who has different ownership (Double K Stable) and defeated Ben's Cat in an allowance race in April 2012. "May the best horse win is all I can say," Leatherbury said.
Melnyk Racing Stable's multiple graded-stakes winner Bridgetown makes his first appearance since the Breeders' Sup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park. Todd Pletcher trains the 6-year-old son of Speightstown .
Euro Stable's Super Chunky ran second in last year's Jim McKay but has not won since September 2011.
The other hundred-granders on the card are the Skipat Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs (race 6); the Miss Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs (race 8); the The Very One Stakes for fillies and mares at five furlongs on turf (race 11); and the Hilltop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf (race 13).
In the Skipat, Dance to Bristol returns after a nine-length victory in the Sugar Maple Stakes at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races April 20. Copperville Farm's daughter of Speightstown earned a 109 Beyer figure in the Sugar Maple and is on a three-race win streak for trainer Ollie Figgins III.
Bobby Rankin's fleet-footed homebred Funnys Approval was a front-running winner of the seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr. II) in the mud Feb. 16 at Laurel Park. She was most recently fifth after setting the pace in the one-mile Ruffian Handicap (gr. II) April 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm's homebred Tread, a nose away from being unbeaten in three starts for trainer Al Stall Jr., makes her stakes debut in the Miss Preakness. Joel Rosario rides the daughter of Arch .
Stakes-placed I'm Mom's Favorite, a seven-length allowance winner on the track for trainer Tony Dutrow, and recent Pimlico stakes winner Jewel of a Cat, trained by Ben Perkins Jr., both rate solid chances as well.
Fourteen horses, plus three also-eligibles, passed the entry box for the The Very One. Sweet Cassiopeia, winner of the Giant's Causeway Stakes as the favorite on the Keeneland grass April 20, puts her five-race win streak on the line. William Connelly trains the 5-year-old Five Star Day mare for owners/breeders Steve Snowden and Dan Considine.
Multiple stakes winner Sensible Lady is back to defend her win in last year's The Very One, in which she produced a two-length victory at odds of nearly 25-1. Three Lyons Racing's 4-year-old daughter of Street Sense , 2-for-2 on the local lawn, is trained by Tim Salzman.
Bona Venture Stables' Summer of Fun, third in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT) at 43-1 odds, will attempt to nail down her first stakes win in the Hilltop for trainer George Weaver. In her only start since the Breeders' Cup, the Include filly captured a first-level allowance/optional claiming test at 1 1/16 miles on the Gulfstream Park turf by 3 1/2 lengths March 23.
$100,000 Skipat Stakes (Race 6, 2:34 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs
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