Legendary trainer King Leatherbury, with more than 6,400 wins on his resume, summed it up best after his 7-year-old gelding Ben's Cat ran down the loose-on-the-lead even-money favorite Ribo Bobo to successfully defend his title in the $250,000 Fabulous Strike Handicap at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and pick up career stakes win number 19.
“He is a truly remarkable horse,” marveled Leatherbury after the race.
Ribo Bobo, trained by Jason Servis and ridden by Paco Lopez, broke like a rocket from the gate, went straight to the front, and faced little pace pressure through the first four furlongs of the six-furlong Fabulous Strike. Winner of nine consecutive races, Ribo Bobo had a hammerlock on the field heading into the stretch.
Jockey Julian Pimentel, regular rider of Ben's Cat, and the rider of Ribo Bobo in his last race, was not too concerned.
“It worked out well for me,” Pimentel said. “The favorite [Ribo Bobo] broke on top and I was in a perfect spot. I moved a little earlier than I would have because speed had been holding up pretty well tonight. Turning for home I had so much horse that when I asked him to go, he went on very well.”
Like a cat stalking and pouncing on his target, Ben's Cat accelerated through the stretch and overtook his talented rival to win by a measured half-length. The 7-2 third choice, Ben's Cat returned $9.80 on a $2 wager to his backers. Good Morning Diva, the second choice at 2-1, finished 3 ¼ lengths behind Ribo Bobo for third place.
The victory was Ben's Cat's 24th triumph in 37 starts, with 19 stakes wins and career earnings of $1,862,640. He completed the six furlongs in 1:09.74.
Despite having to cancel the card after seven races due to increasingly strong winds, all-sources handle on the Penn National card was $1,632,837, eclipsing last year's Thanksgiving Eve handle of $1,549,406 on nine races.
“It was a tremendous night of racing at Penn National highlighted by a thrilling victory from one of the most accomplished horses in the country, Ben's Cat, and his trainer King Leatherbury, who is one of the true legends of thoroughbred racing,” said Dan Silver, director of racing operations at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. “The night was possible due to incredible work by Jake Leitzel, our manager of racetrack maintenance, and his entire team in getting the track in such terrific shape. Additionally, Dave Bailey, our racing secretary, Craig Lytel, our stakes coordinator, Jenny Bowman, our assistant racing secretary, and the entire racing office did a great job of putting together an excellent card. Thanks also to the horsemen for their strong support of the evening.”
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