By Bill Finley
With the venerable Ben’s Cat (Parker’s Storm Cat) having finished last in Saturday’s Maryland Million Sprint H. at Laurel, owner/trainer King Leatherbury has yet to formulate future plans for the 10-year-old gelding, but admitted that retirement is a possibility.
Ben’s Cat’s last win came in the May 20 Turf Sprint at Pimlico. He has lost five straight since. In Saturday’s race, he lost by 12 1/4 lengths.
“I haven’t made up my mind yet,” Leatherbury said. “He did come out with a little problem. He did have an excuse, but I don’t want to get into that. We’ll have to think about what we do. It’s a tough decision to make. He held good up until eight. At eight, he was just as good as ever. At nine, he was not as good as he was at eight. At 10, he’s not as good as he was last year and at 11 he doesn’t figure to be as good as he has been this year.”
In previous years, Leatherbury has shipped Ben’s Cat to Penn National for the Fabulous Strike H., run in late November, but said that race is definitely out this year.
“If he had won [Saturday] that race would certainly be on the books to go back in,” he said. “With a bad race like that we definitely will not be going to race there.”
Ben’s Cat, a Leatherbury homebred, has won 32 races, 26 of them stakes, and has made $2,640,282. Leatherbury said he will have to take into account Ben’s Cat’s future earnings potential.
“We have to consider retirement but it’s just too soon to make a decision because he just ran [Saturday],” he said. “It’s between retiring him and coming back and giving him another shot in the spring. He always runs well in the spring. We could bring him back for a couple of races and run him before he starts to tail off.”
“He’s capable of still bringing in some good purse money and that’s what you need, what I’m relying on with my horses. I have only two owners besides myself and they just have a few horses and that’s not enough to cover the overhead. So the horses I own have to produce or I don’t get that income,. That’s something I have to consider. Plus, he loves being a race horse. It’‘s not like I’m working him to death. He enjoys being around the racetrack as much as he’d like being on the farm.”