Ben’s Cat Sprints to Third Straight Jim McKay Triumph

BALTIMORE, MD., 05/15/15  – Showing no signs of slowing down at the age of 9, Ben’s Cat reeled in Bold Thunder in deep stretch and stuck a neck out at the wire for his third consecutive victory in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint Friday at Pimlico Race Course. 

Bred, owned and trained by legendary Mid-Atlantic horseman King Leatherbury, elected last month to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame, Ben’s Cat ran five furlongs on the turf course in 56.04 seconds, just .34 seconds off the track record set by 5-year-old Disco Dandy in 2009. 

A gelded Maryland-bred son of Parker’s Storm Cat, Ben’s Cat sat comfortably in mid-pack as Bold Thunder bounded to the front and led a field of 10 older sprinters through a quarter-mile in 21.65 seconds and a half in 44.19.

Bold Thunder, who spoiled the 2015 debut of Ben’s Cat in a five-furlong turf allowance April 17 at Pimlico, shifted to an outside path down the stretch as jockey Julien Pimentel, who had swung outside at the top of the stretch to launch his bid, darted back to the inside. The two ran side-by-side down the lane before Ben’s Cat surged nearing the wire.

Favored at 2-1, Ben’s Cat returned $6.20. 

The victory was the 29th in 47 lifetime starts for Ben’s Cat, and 24th in a stakes race, with purse earnings approaching $2.4 million. Ben’s Cat has now won four of 10 runnings of the Jim McKay, also finishing first in 2011, 2013 and 2014.


Winning trainer King Leatherbury (Ben’s Cat): “In my mind, I thought that we would win, but I wasn’t so sure at the three-sixteenths pole. Then again, when that horse drifted out on us and we had to go inside, it’s always tougher to get through on the inside. But we got there just in time. Just like a Hollywood script would write it. He’ll probably run back in two weeks at Penn National (Governor’s Cup).”

Winning jockey Julian Pimental (Ben’s Cat): “In the stretch, I really wanted to stay outside, but the leader was getting out. So I said, ‘OK, let’s go inside.’ It’s really unbelievable; he knows where the wire is. Right after we crossed the wire his ears pricked up. He said, ‘I’m done.’”

Jockey Pierre Hernandez Ortega (Bold Thunder, 2nd): “When he switched leads in the stretch – that was when he drifted out. That’s what cost me the race.”