Photo by Stuart Haman, Maryland Jockey Club

 

Ben’s Cat, an under-bred five-year-old gelding, won the Maryland Million Turf Sprint on Saturday at Laurel Park.

That leaves King Leatherbury, his under-appreciated 78-year-old trainer, with 6,326 career wins, third most of any trainer in the history of horse racing, but still no Hall of Fame induction.

Ben’s Cat, shown above in orange, broke a pelvis as a two year old and didn’t hit the track for his first race until he was four. But he won his first eight races, and now for his career has 13 wins in 18 starts. He carried nine to 12 pounds more than the other six horses in the field in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint, but still won easily.

Leatherbury, who’s been based at Laurel for decades, would get his due if Ben’s Cat runs in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs, where the fastest horses and most famous trainers in the world will congregate and the eyes of everybody in racing would be upon them. Together, they’re a six-legged movie script waiting to happen.

But before the horse and his trainer can make the trip, somebody’s got to pony up the $100,000 entry fee for the race, since at birth Leatherbury didn’t think Ben’s Cat would amount to much and declined to pay the $500 fee required to nominate foals for the Breeders’ Cup.

Leatherbury’s put out word that he’ll split his Breeders’ Cup winnings 50/50 with anybody who covers the fee. Ben’s Cat deserves to run with the best.

The big race is less than five weeks away.

What’s going to happen next?

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