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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Ben’s Cat Wins the Wrong Race

Oh, what might have been. Today at Laurel Park, amidst a sea of slop, the right horse won, but it was in the wrong race. As Ben’s Cat effortlessly strode away from five foes to win the $75,000 Laurel Dash Stakes all I could think was that he should be running instead in the $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

As I chronicled earlier this week, the specter of a $100,000 supplemental fee proved too much for his connections to muster, and therefore they did not enter the horse, that I call the best turf sprinter in the nation, into the race he was seemingly born to run.
As for the race today, it was no contest.

With Jeremy Rose sitting confidently in the irons, Ben’s Cat patiently stalked a strong early pace set by front runners Ju Jitsu Jax and Royal Currier. As the horses approached the stretch, the King Leatherbury trainee ambled easily up to the leaders and took command with powerful superiority. He coasted to the wire in the six-furlong test, which had been originally scheduled for the turf, clear by two lengths over Royal Currier and Action Andy and paid $3.80 for the win.

After the race, rider Jeremy Rose had this to say, “Ben just toyed with them. To me it was one of his more powerful races.”


Rose, who rode Afleet Alex to victories in the 2005 Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, says Ben’s Cat is the third best horse he has ever ridden.


“Alex, Havre de Grace and him are 1-2-3,” added Rose. “I have been on some really top horses, including Big Brown and Toccet, but Ben’s Cat is better than them.”

Meanwhile, breeder, owner, and trainer, Leatherbury added, “He keeps amazing me. He did it for the fun of it today.”


Amazing yes, today’s win raised his career record to 14 of 19 with nine stakes victories, and earnings just shy of $800,000, but not quite amazing enough to ante up the money for the Breeders’ Cup.

For those of you who regularly read this daily column, I believe you know me not to be the stand on the soapbox kind of guy, but in this situation, I will not bite my tongue. The connections of Ben’s Cat have a great horse. The Breeders’ Cup is our year-end world championships. The two should go together; it should be as simple as that.


His connections fumbled the ball when they did not supplement him for $25,000 when they had the chance earlier this year, and now they balked at putting up the $100,000 needed now, and just a small portion of the money he has earned them this year, for a shot at the biggest race of their lives. It was not a very sporting decision in my eyes.

So on Saturday, as I watch horses like Chamberlain Bridge, Perfect Officer, Regally Ready, and Country Day, all of whom Ben’s Cat ran right by a few races ago, compete for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, I will be thinking about the horse who won a small stakes today at Laurel, and what might have been.


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Older Comments about Ben’s Cat Wins the Wrong Race...

szulcc - I agree. Where's the fun in winning a $75k race in the slop? After winning all these races, don't they sort of "owe it" to the horse to see what he can do? He's run like champion - he deserves the shot.
  • szulcc · Yes, exactly. He had a big shot in the race. By the "Ragozins," he fits on top in his current form. What a shame...would have been interesting to see him run as it's basically the same horses in the Turf Sprint that hes been facing and WINNING against!! · 2179 days ago
Great article, sad story. Horse deserved a chance to prove on a national stage how good he is. Sad for his fans that he didn't get that chance.
I don't understand why he didn't supplement him for $100k...I've been following this horse ever since his first allowance win. I ALSO don't understand how he doesn't have the 100k after the horse has made him now nearly 800k...
That's a great point, Arazi ... a BC racing secretary should and could actively recruit horses and issues like this to help prevent such oversights. I don't think there is anyway Ben's Cat would not have been running if they had jumped on the $25,000 fee earlier this year.
I agree 100%. I think the Breeders' Cup has to get a top-notch racing secretary and be aggressive with this stuff. Ben's Cat is an exciting horse, a winner of now 14 of 19. He's a horse that should be running on BC day. But he doesn't run because of the risk and the owner ran out of time? Where was the BC on this? If you want 15 top caliber races, then you have to really work at it - not just expect everyone to show up.
The horse first, connections second! Admire you for taking a stand and calling our attention to a nice, overlooked horse. At 5, and for a gelding, he should be able to continue racing...hope they give him a shot next year in the 2012 BC. In the meantime, maybe they will enter him in some "win and you're in" BC qualifying races next year! Nudge, nudge!!
I wish I had the money to invest in Ben's Cat starting in the BC Sprint Turf, I really think he had a big chance of winning.
all so true That horse belonged at the Breeders Cup He earned the right to be there What a disservice to a good horse But I am glad he won today and is in good order which is a good thing by its self

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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