Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
He may not be Seattle Slew or Secretariat but Ben’s Cat is a once-in-a-lifetime horse. Owned by The Jim Stable of trainer King Leatherbury, he’s a warrior who simply refuses to accept defeat. On Saturday at Parx, the 8 year-old gelded son of Parker’s Storm Cat put on another amazing display rallying from well off the pace to get up in the last moment and win a three horse blanket finish in the G3 $200,000 Parx Dash. It was the 27th win in 41 lifetime starts for Ben’s Cat, his second straight win in the Parx Dash, and the $120,000 winner's share has pushed his career earnings to just over $2.1 million.
Halfway through the race, things didn’t look good for Ben’s Cat. In a race that featured lots of speed, it was expected that he’d be running from off the pace, but midway on the far turn, he still had at least six lengths to make up. Sharp Sensation, Tightend Touchdown and This Ain’t No Bull all came blasting out of there and vied for the lead through the opening half mile. They battled through a quarter in 22.15 and a half in 44.52 while 11-1 shot Bold Thunder was in close pursuit. Ben’s Cat, meanwhile, was last up the backstretch and simply appeared to be too far back to be a serious contender.
But Ben’s Cat is not your normal race horse. Rounding the far turn, Sharp Sensation had the lead with Bold Thunder now making a run on the outside. Tightend Touchdown had suddenly shuffled three lengths out of it on the inner rail and Ben’s Cat was starting to gather some momentum, but he was losing ground on the outside of the field and was still six lengths back with only a quarter mile to go. Into the stretch, Bold Thunder had taken the lead, Tightend Touchdown was coming back between horses and now second choice Marchman was hitting his best stride on the outside. And oh yeah, Ben’s Cat was now in full flight on the far outside but still had four lengths to make up in the last furlong. With incredible determination, as they came to the wire, Ben’s Cat surged past them all with Tightend Touchdown valiantly reaching for the wire and Marchman right there in between those two. But it would be Ben’s Cat, winning by a remarkable nose over Tightend Touchdown who had his nose in front of Marchman in the three way photo.
The three co-favorites all went off at 5-2, with Ben’s Cat somehow off as the third choice. Ridden as always by Julian Pimentel, he paid $7.40, 4.40 and 2.80. Tightend Touchdown did everything except win, settling for second and returning 3.60 and 2.60. Marchman was also terrific in defeat, ending up third and paying 2.40 to show. The five furlongs on the firm turf went in :56.62.