When the two-time champ took the lead on the outside nearing the eighth pole of Saturday’s $200,000 feature, the Penn National crowd knew it was just more of the same for a pair of historically significant Maryland-breds.
Fans at the Grantville oval had seen this show before, twice before to be exact. Pulling clear of his competition with each classy stride, Ben’s Cat coasted home a very popular three-time winner of the Fabulous Strike Handicap. Trained by King Leatherbury, this winning thing is nothing new for either.
The King and his Cat have definitely been there, and done that.
With more than sixty-four hundred wins on the resume, and career earnings of his horses nearing the sixty-three million dollar mark, to say that King Leatherbury is a living legend in the training game, would be an understatement.
At the age of 81, the King may have had a more talented horse or two in his barn over the years, but he has never had a runner quite like the winning machine, Ben’s Cat.
With all the big races at Del Mar, Aqueduct, and Churchill Downs over the Thanksgiving weekend, the rich sprint at Penn National may have gotten lost in the shuffle just a bit, but any race where Leatherbury saddles the Cat, racing fans need to take notice.
Not only would Ben’s Cat not disappoint on Saturday evening, but he ran the best race of yet another successful season.
The easy 3 ¼-length victory under Julian Pimentel over horses like Bern Identity, River Rocks and Strapping Groom, while finishing off the six panels in just over 1:09, was vintage Ben’s Cat. It also made up for a few unlucky losses this year, which still saw the eight-year-old gelding put together a record of 8-4-2-1.
All told, the gelded son of Parker’s Storm Cat has amassed more than $2.3 million for his owner, trainer, and breeder … the King. In winning the Fabulous Strike Handicap for the third consecutive time, Ben’s Cat has now won 28 of 45 starts in a racing career, which has now spanned five seasons, while running and winning regularly on both turf and dirt.
It would seem only fitting that this horse would be campaigned by this trainer. Eight-year-old horse, 81-year-old trainer, and all they do is win. As it should be, the King and his Cat just keep on keepin’ on.