The late Ben’s Cat (Parker’s Storm Cat), four-time Maryland Horse of the Year and a fan favorite for years, has been awarded the 2017 Secretariat Vox Populi Award, or “Voice of the People,” with record-breaking voter participation, it was announced Sunday. The award, created by Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery, annually recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.
“My mother created this award to honor the horses whose stories draw people to Thoroughbred racing and convert them to fans,” said Kate Tweedy, daughter of the late Mrs. Chenery. “She certainly admired the journey of Ben’s Cat and would have been thrilled with the outcome of this year’s voting. Our family looks forward to meeting Mr. Leatherbury and sharing this special celebration with racing fans.”
Ben’s Cat compiled a record of 32-9-7 from 63 starts and banked earnings of $2,643,782. Racegoers from across the country celebrated the gelding’s gameness throughout his career. The Maryland-bred died in July due to complications from colic surgery. Leatherbury, 84, who races under The Jim Stable, has a career total of nearly 6,500 wins.
“It is quite an honor for Ben’s Cat to receive this impressive award,” Leatherbury said. “I never would have guessed his fan base reached that far. Ben’s Cat won a lot of races, and I sure did enjoy racing him. This is really something.”
The Tweedy family will present the custom-made Vox Populi trophy to Leatherbury Jan. 20 at Santa Anita Park.