Race of the Week 2017

Jim McKay's Maryland Million Day: More Than Ben's Cat

Ben's Cat wins 2013 Jim McKay Turf Sprint.
Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Jim McKay’s Maryland Million takes place at Laurel Park on Saturday. There will be a collection of 11 races with total purses exceeding $1 million.


The most celebrated Maryland-bred currently in training, Ben’s Cat, will try to become the first four-time winner of Maryland Million races after winning the Turf Sprint the last three years. That race was eliminated by Maryland Million officials earlier this year.

The son of Parker’s Storm Cat, who became trainer King T. Leatherbury’s first millionaire last year, has won 23-of-35 starts for earnings of $1,695,640. But without a turf sprint, Leatherbury cross-entered the 7 year-old in the 6 furlong dirt Sprint Handicap and the one mile Turf.

After the entries were posted, Leatherbury handicapped both races in order to decide which one to run Ben’s Cat.

The Sprint has some really fast horses in it,” Leatherbury said. “With the weight I was given (124 pounds-four to 11 more than the rest of the field), I think there were three that could beat me. I am the best horse in the Turf. The only question mark is the one-mile distance. Handicapping these races was fun. Before doing so I thought I would be running in the Sprint but after looking at the numbers, I changed my mind.”

Ben’s Cat will be the 6-5 morning line favorite in the Turf, which also features Roadhog and Change of Command, the 1-2 finishers from last year. Julian Pimentel will be aboard Ben’s Cat for the 24th time. The duo has teamed up for 15 victories.

Recapping Laurel Park selections from Saturday, October 12th had 8 winners from 11 races (3 Top Selection; payoffs in BOLD) having $2 WIN pay-offs being $4.20 (1st race), $8.40 (2nd), $12.00 (5th), $3.00 (6th), $8.20 (7th), $8.20 (8th), $17.40 (10th) and $5.00 (11th).

The BEST BET of the Day (5: 1-2-1) Ebony Two Star (8th race: 6-1 M/L; 5-2 PT) was certainly well backed at the betting windows for his career debut, but appeared to dislike the muddy surface or was beset by nerves as he was reluctant to load. Even though he was eager to get involved early, when prompted to give it his all, he had nothing to offer and retreated quite readily to finish 8th (last).

The LONGSHOT PICK (4: 1-0-0) The Man’s Hoss (7th race: 10-1 M/L; 3-1 PT) odds were cut substantially when the field was reduce to 6 due to the sloppy surface, yet these odds still only made him the 3rd choice. He saved ground chasing the pace, swiung wide entering the stretch, responded to brisk urging in upper stretch, swept to command approaching the sixteenth pole then eagerly drew away to win by 5 lengths and return $8.20 to WIN, $3.40 to PLACE and $2.20 to SHOW.

For Saturday races the weather forecast calls Partly Cloudy skies, with just a 10% chance of showers, so I’m anticipating a FAST MAIN TRACK and FIRM TURF. Selections for the Jim McKay’s MARYLAND MILLION DAY at Laurel Park, Saturday, Oct. 19th are posted below. Selections posted were handicapped based on making multi-race wagers such as DOUBLE’s, Pick-3’s and Pick-4’s using all three (3) listed for each race in each leg.


1st race – $100,000 MD Million Nursery for 2 y.o. – 6 furlongs 

#3 – It’s a Bang (8-5)
#7 – Springs R Loaded (5-1)
#1 – Joint Custody (7-5)

2nd race – $100,000 MD Million Lassie for 2 y.o. fillies – 6 furlongs

#3 – Jonesin for Jerry (4-5)
#7 – Steady N Love (8-1)
#8 – Weekends for Love (5-1)

3rd race – $50,000 Maiden for F&M 3 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 mile on Turf

#8 – Tanka (5-1) *** BEST BET ***
#10 – See What Happens (8-1)
#6 – Very Few Details (3-1)

4th race – $100,000 MD Million Sprint Hcp for 3 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs
#1 – Ribo Bobo (7-2)
#6 – Pitch N Roll  --- SCRATCHED ---
#5 – Action Andy (7-2)

5th race – $50,000 Maiden MD Million for 3 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 mile on Turf
#9 – Love Me Du (7-2)
#10 – Star Crossed Lover (12-1)
#14 – Petie’s Boy --- SCRATCHED ---

6th race – $50,000 MD Million Distaff Starter Hcp for F&M 3 y.o. and up – One Mile
#3 – Sister Sharon (8-1)
#13 – Will N Pat (15-1)
#6 – Motherload Hipster (9-2)

7th race – $125,000 MD Million Ladies for F&M 3 y.o.and up – 1 1/8 mile on Turf
#1 – Pagan Priestess (4-1)
#5 – Dance With Gio (15-1)
#2 – Moral High Ground (12-1)

8th race – $100,000 MD Million Distaff Hcp for F&M 3 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#2 – Maddy’s Dance (15-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PLAY $$$
#5 – Ju Ju Eyeballs (8-5)
#3 – Classy Coco (4-1)

9th race – $125,000 MD Million Turf for 3 y.o. and up – One mile on Turf
#9 – Change of Command (4-1)
#1 – Target Sighted (12-1)
#7 – Roadhog (9-2)

10th race – $150,000 MD Million Classic for 3 y.o. and up – 1 1/8 mile

#5 – Seventeenohsix (5-1)
#1 – Eighttofasttocatch (2-5)
#3 – Talk Show Man (15-1)

11th race – $50,000 MD Million Starter Hcp for 3 y.o. and up – One Mile
#11 – Tooth N Claw (20-1)
#8 – Who Dat Boy (6-1)
#9 – Q’s Jack (10-1)

It’s a beautiful day to go to lovely Laurel Park and celebrate this rich thoroughbred horse racing tradition in Maryland. Good Luck!



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Older Comments about Jim McKay's Maryland Million Day: More Than Ben's Cat ...

Sorry * Jim should be Gary--
You're Welcome Jim! I'm sure you "encouraged" her to get up in those final strides @ 13-1... as I did. Life is good!
Maddy!! Thank you Jim :D
Thanks yukichan! As of this writing 4 of 5 (Top Pick Winners) as well as 4 Exactas (boxing 3), 3 of them COLD EXACTAS! But with only loss being BEST BET (OTB @ 4-1), most will point to the negative instead of the positive?!
2 for 2 so far! I am paying attention :)
Had to be a tough choice for King, but in the end, he may have chosen which race to win.

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