Leatherbury’s Ben’s Cat, one of the top turf sprinters in the country,
returns to the main track for the first time in nearly a year as the 5-2
favorite in the $100,000 Dave’s Friend Stakes, one of four added-money
tests at Laurel Park on Saturday afternoon.
son of Parker’s Storm Cat, who became Leatherbury’s first millionaire
last year, has won 23-of-36 starts for earnings of $1,720,640. Now
seven, Ben’s Cat had to recover from a broken pelvis before he made his
maiden debut at age four in 2010, then began his career with eight
consecutive victories, including five on the main track. Leatherbury
then moved his homebred to the grass where he has earned 15 stakes
scores, including three graded wins.
Cat has won 8-of-12 on the main track, including three stakes. He last
raced on the dirt November 21, 2012 with a victory in the Fabulous
Strike Handicap at Penn National, beating Immortal Eyes and Poseidon’s
Warrior in a photo finish.
am going to analyze the race tomorrow but there is no guarantee that I
am going to run. We have other options,” Leatherbury said. “He is
certainly better on the turf but he can run on the dirt. I want to see
how hard we are going to have to run to win the race. We’ll handicap and
make the decision.”
other alternatives are the $250,000 Fabulous Strike on Nov. 27 or the
$300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct on Nov. 28.
If Ben’s Cat runs, he will face a field featuring several sharp sprinters.
Typhoon (3-1) has won seven of eight starts since Jamie Ness claimed
the son of Distorted Humor in February 2012. The gelding has won stakes
races at Colonial Downs, Mountaineer Park and Penn National since
entering the Ness barn. This year, he has run just twice but comes into
the race off an allowance victory here on Oct. 10.
for Ten (7-2) has been off the board just once in 11 lifetime starts.
In his previous two races, the 4-year-old won the Vincent Moscarelli
Memorial at Delaware Park in August for trainer Damon Dilodovico and was
a game third in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash here two months
Andy (6-1) won the 2012 De Francis Dash but is winless in four starts
this year, although the son of Gators N Bears has finished second three
times, including the Maryland Million Sprint last month for trainer
Heir (6-1) began the year with four consecutive victories, including
the Jersey Shore Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park on July 4. Since then, the
3-year-old colt has off the board finishes in the Amsterdam (G2) and
Gallant Bob (G3).
Rounding out the field will be Fersmiley (10-1), Congressional Page (15-1), Broad Rule (20-1) and Escrow Kid (20-1).
$100,000 Jennings Handicap is headed by Maryland Million Classic winner
Eighttofasttocatch, the two-time defending champion. The 7-year-old led
from start to finish in the Classic under Forest Boyce for his eighth
career stakes score. The Tim Keefe trainee won the Jennings last year in
the same front running fashion.
came out of the Maryland Million in great shape,” Keefe said. “The race
shortens up to a mile (from 1-1/8) which helps us. I imagine the pace
will be a little more spirited than the Maryland Million. I can’t
imagine they’ll let us get away with a 25 (second) quarter but this
horse has been pressured before. He has gas and he loves the one-mile
distance. It will be interesting to see what the others do because
clearly my horse is going straight to the lead.”
has been established as the 3-5 favorite to defeat six other
Maryland-breds by Maryland Jockey Club oddsmaker Keith Feustle.
Pletcher will send out the program favorite in both 2-year-old stakes
races, the $100,000 Smart Halo for fillies and the $100,000 James F.
Lewis III Stakes for colts and geldings.
Smart Halo is headed by maiden victor Co Cola, an impressive winner at
Belmont in her debut last month. Chris DeCarlo picks up the mount on the
daughter of Candy Ride, who drew the outside post in the seven horse
field and was made the prohibitive 6-5 favorite.
trained really well both before and after that race,” Pletcher said.
“She is a filly that has a lot of natural speed so we’ll try to take
advantage of that. We also have a favorable post and will see how the
race unfolds because there is some other speed in there. She was very
professional in her debut and I hope she continues to be that way
James Lewis has attracted a dozen starters, including Saratoga Special
(G2) winner Corfu, the 5-2 morning line favorite, and Aarons Orient, the
4-1 third choice. Both are trained by Pletcher.
a son of Malibu Moon, followed up his victory with an off the board
finish in the Hopeful (G1) as the betting choice and a gutsy second in
the Futurity (G2) at Belmont Park.
is very fast,” Pletcher said. “I was a little disappointed in the
Hopeful but other than that he has showed up and run hard every time. He
has a lot of natural speed so we’ll let him use that without over doing
it. I was pleased with his first two races at Saratoga (Corfu broke his
maiden first-out before winning the Saratoga Special) and his last
Orient has been in Pletcher’s barn for a month after owner Gary Barber
purchased the Orientate colt from Steve Asmussen’s stable after a
victory in the Kip Deville Stakes at Remington Park in late September.
got him about a month ago and he has been very impressive to watch
train. Both of his breezes for us have been quite good. We have run
against him before (finished fourth behind Corfu in July),” added
Pletcher. “There is so much speed in here, something has to give. This
race came up very difficult. There are some really nice colts in here.”
Lewis also includes Pure Sensation (7-2), who has been runner-up to
both Pletcher runners in maiden starts, and Laurel Park-based Debt
Ceiling (5-1), who has won four of six starts with three stakes
victories, including the Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill Downs in June.
to the fifth race, the Maryland Jockey Club will honor recently retired
Dance to Bristol with a winners’ circle ceremony. Conditioned by Ollie
Figgins III at the Bowie Training Center, Dance to Bristol enjoyed a
stellar 4-year-old campaign with victories in seven of her 10 starts
this year. The daughter of Speightstown and jockey Xavier Perez reeled
off seven straight victories from February through August, including a
win in the Skipat Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Preakness weekend and
three graded races in New York: Bed Of Roses (G3), Honorable Miss (G2)
and Ballerina (G1). She finished her career with 10 wins and eight
second place finishes in 20 career starts for earnings of $980,880.
GARY CAP CELEBRATES 50TH BIRTHDAY WITH WIN IN THURSDAY OPENER
Trainer Gary Capuano celebrated his 50th
birthday with a gate-to-wire victory by Bombay Beaches in the Thursday
opener at odds of nearly 10-1. The daughter of Holy Bull paid $21.80 in
her maiden victory.