Marvelous veteran Ben's Cat did it again Nov. 27 when he wore down odds-on Ribo Bobo in the final furlong to score a repeat victory in the $250,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course (VIDEO).
It was the 19th stakes victory for King Leatherbury's 7-year-old win machine. With snow falling lightly at the Pennsylvania oval, Ben's Cat, bred and trained in Maryland by Leatherbury and owned by The Jim Stable, prevailed by half a length at odds of 7-2.
Julian Pimentel had Ben's Cat, the 120-pound top weight, well positioned in third off the rail through the opening quarter mile of the six-furlong event. They drew to within a length of the 4-5 choice at the quarter pole and went after the leader entering the homestretch. Ben's Cat, under good handling, drew even past the eighth pole and edged ahead of Ribo Bobo and Paco Lopez in the final stages.
"We were hoping some other horse would have some speed to soften up the favorite, who was obviously the horse to beat," Leatherbury said. "That didn’t really happen, but my horse always closes and finishes well so I wasn’t really worried because I thought we were close enough to the leader coming into the stretch. He is a truly remarkable horse."
The final time was 1:09.74 on a good track following quick fractions of :22.37 and :44.88.
"It worked out well for me," Pimentel said. "The favorite broke on top and I was in a perfect spot. I moved a little earlier than I would have because speed had been holding up pretty well tonight. Turning for home I had so much horse that when I asked him to go, he went on very well."
Ben's Cat, a son of Parker's Storm Cat out of the Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox, triumphed for the 24th time in 37 starts and boosted his career earnings to $1,862,640. The dark bay gelding won for the fifth time in eight tries this year. He was cutting back from one mile on the turf when second by a neck in the Maryland Millions Turf Stakes Oct. 19.
Leatherbury said the Fabulous Strike would be the final start of the year for Ben's Cat.
"As long as everything goes OK, he will be back next year for the Mister Diz in the spring at Pimlico to try and win that race five years in a row," he said.
Ben's Cat paid $9.80, $3.40 and $2.20 across the board as the third choice in the field of seven. Ribo Bobo, who carried 118 pounds, returned $2.60 and $2.10. Good Morning Diva, the 2-1 second choice, paid $2.20.