The amazing veteran Ben’s Cat has accomplished a lot since winning his debut way back on May 8th, 2010. All told, the nine-year-old gelding has made 52 starts, winning 30 and placing in thirteen more while winning nearly $2.5 million in purse money.
Some believe that Ben’s Cat has lost a step this year, as he’s only won two races from seven starts, well below his win percentage from years past. His nose defeat in the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap, for which he earned a Beyer speed figure of just 83, seemingly supports that belief.
But this isn’t the first time that Ben’s Cat has seemed to be near the end of his career, and each time in the past, he’s managed to prove his doubters wrong by recapturing his best form and heading back to the winner’s circle. Every year since 2012, Ben’s Cat has entered the six-furlong Fabulous Strike Stakes at Penn National off a defeat in a race he was supposed to win, and each time, Ben’s Cat won the Fabulous Strike in impressive fashion, earning Beyers of 100, 103, and 104. Although he’s best known as a turf sprinter, once can make a case that he’s even better on dirt, as he’s 7-for-11 on the main track with two runner-up efforts as well.
One of those runner-up efforts was in the Maryland Million Sprint, an effort that was better than it appears at first glance. For one, Ben’s Cat was carrying eight pounds more than runner-up Jack’s in the Deck–at level weights, Ben’s Cat surely would have won. Secondly, Ben’s Cat missed a workout prior to the Maryland Million Sprint, which likely compromised his chances.
Later this evening, Ben’s Cat will seek an unprecedented fourth consecutive victory in the Maryland Million Sprint, and from all appearances, the race will be a tough one to win. Among his challengers are the speedy Favorite Tale, who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I); Amelia’s Wild Ride, who beat Ben’s Cat by a nose in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Stakes earlier this year; Jack’s in the Deck, who is seeking a second straight win against Ben’s Cat; and Fabulous Kid, who posted a Beyer of 100 while winning an allowance race at Aqueduct a week ago. Given the quality of the field–it’s a graded stakes-caliber race–it would not be a shock to see Ben’s Cat finish off the board.
But I think that the veteran has what it takes to turn the tables on his younger rivals and regain his glorious form once more. He’s returning to track and race where some of his greatest efforts have come, and with three workouts under his belt, he should be sharper and fitter than he was for the Maryland Million Sprint. Even at the age of nine, I think Ben’s Cat has what it takes to accomplish the unprecedented and win a fourth straight Maryland Million Sprint. I’ll be cheering hard for him later tonight!
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to sign up for email newsletters and special offers from The Turf Board!