Photo: Victoria Solzbach
Lost in all the hoopla of the Lady Legend For the Cure Race and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, was the performance of an 8-year-old gelding named Ben’s Cat. All he did was win the Jim McKay Turf Sprint (moved to the dirt) for his 26th career victory in 39 starts.
Ben’s Cat, who is owned and trained by King T. Leatherbury, moved to seventh, ahead of Little Bold John, on the all-time list of Maryland-breds with $1,967,790. Leatherbury is fourth on the all-time list of trainers with 6,428 winners behind Dale Baird, Steve Asmussen and Jerry Hollendorfer.
Look for Ben's Cat to travel up I-83 to Penn National on May 31st to avenge his loss in last years Pennsylvania Governor's Cup Handicap 5 furlong turf sprint.
The photos of Ben’s Cat and California Chrome were taken by 18-year-old Victoria Solzbach. I met Victoria at Pimlico on Black Eyed Susan Day when her mom Krystal recognized me in the crowd and said, “Hi”. Though we had never met, Krystal reminded me that we have interacted on the “Homeless Handicappers” facebook group, where horse racing fans from novice to grizzled vet talk about the Sport of Kings.
”Victoria began riding at the age of six and has had a passion for horses her entire life”, explained Krystal, “Her love of racing came in 2004 when Smarty Jones won the Kentucky Derby. She still has the newspaper clippings from the sports section!”
It was the love of horses for this mother-daughter combo from central Virginia that drew them to the race track, making their maiden voyage to Colonial Downs. Shortly thereafter, Victoria got the photography bug which quickly led her to desire a new camera for the 2010 Breeder's Cup.
When at the track, Krystal does the wagering while Victoria focus’ on the beauty of her equine subjects, but both are proud of their handicapping skills.
Victoria’s first wager was for the 2011 Preakness Stakes, a 3-horse box Trifecta (placed by her mom). She had fallen in love with Shackleford and used Animal Kingdom and Astrology which resulted in a nice payout.
A star handicapper was born! For this year’s Preakness, Victoria picked the Superfecta COLD. She obviously has an eye for the horses… and not just through a camera lens.
With Colonial Downs, Laurel Park, Pimlico, Timonium, Keeneland and Churchill Downs on her race tracks visited resume’ the high school senior elected a trip to Saratoga in July over a graduation party. She begins college this fall with her goal to become a Veterinarian upon graduating from Virginia Tech.
If horse racing had more fans like Victoria Solzbach, the industry would not have to worry about the aging of their fan base. Thank you Victoria, for sharing your photographic talents and best of luck at Saratoga and college.
Recapping previous posted selections from Preakness Saturday, May 17th at Pimlico, had 10 winners from 13 races, (6 Top Selections; payoffs in BOLD) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $8.80 (1st race), $6.80 (3rd), $4.40 (4th), $3.20 (5th), $12.20 (7th), $7.80 (8th), $5.80 (10th), $17.00 (11th), $6.40 (12th) and $3.20 (13th).
The BEST BET of the Day (25: 5-7-6) Tooth n Claw (2nd race: 9-2 M/L; 7-2 PT) settled off the pace while saving ground, angled out for the run around the final turn, was under hard drive four wide entering the stretch but failed to make an impact finishing seventh.
The LONGSHOT PICK (25: 6-5-2) Quality Lass (6th race: 12-1 M/L; 10-1 PT) with the pace while saving ground, was shuffled back into the turn, regrouped briefly then steadied along when keen behind rivals, angled out a bit in upper stretch, hesitated briefly when working through a seam near the sixteenth pole and kept on valiantly inside rivals to stay on for 3rd returning $7.60 to SHOW.
FYI – the BEST BET of the Day selection will never be a M/L favorite and the LONGSHOT PICK will simply be the runner having the highest M/L odds among my top picks for an entire card.
PLEASE NOTE: Statistics provided for the BEST BET and LONGSHOT PICK in parentheses represent the Number of Picks: Wins-Places-Shows. For example, the BEST BET (10: 1-2-3) was picked 10 times resulting in 1 winner, 2 places and 3 shows. In the past, I would reset these numbers at the start of each meet. For 2014, I reset these numbers on Jan. 1st in order to chart results on a yearly basis.
Selections for Friday, May 23rd at Pimlico Race Course are posted below.
First Post 1:10pm EDT.
1st race - $5,000 Claiming for 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/16 miles
#4 – Breaking Up (8-1) *** BEST BET ***
#2 – Brand New Moves (3-1)
#1 – Festive Spirit (9-5)
2nd race – $8,000 Claiming for F&M 3 y.o & up – 6 furlongs
#2 – Flashy Eyed Pearl (2-1)
#3 – Evasive Cat (6-1)
#1 – Grace Is a Beauty (3-1)
3rd race – $40,000 Maidens for 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/16 miles ON TURF
#10 – Ameliatheaviator (5-2)
#2 – Prospero (7-2)
#7 – Boxford Belle (10-1)
4th race – $40,000 Maidens for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#2 – Feral Miss (7-2)
#6 – Jolene (2-1)
#7 – Mary’s Mystique (3-1)
5th race – $25,000 Claiming N2L for 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/16 miles ON TURF
#9 – Sarbanes (6-1)
#8 – Whata Soandso (15-1)
#1 – Pyro City (3-1)
6th race – $42,000 Allowance N1X for 3 y.o & up – 1 1/16 miles
#7 – Qualify (9-2)
#1 – Mexikoma (3-5)
#5 – Maximus Decimus (20-1)
7th race – $35,000 Starter Allowance for 3 y.o. & up – 5 furlongs ON TURF
#14(AE) – Disco Elvis (9-2)
#8 – Unseen (3-1)
#5 – Saintly Feeling (5-1)
8th race – $25,000 Optional Claiming N2X for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#8 – Lady Sabelia (8-5)
#6 – Kalambaka Queen (20-1)
#2 – Grand Hall (6-1)
9th race – $12,500 Claiming for F&M 3 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs ON TURF
#5 – Bellaridge (8-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PLAY $$$
#2 – Kissed by the Mist --- SCRATCHED
#7 – My Queen (3-1)
#14 – Countess Emma (15-1)