A tribute to late Mid-Atlantic legend Ben's Cat will go on as planned Nov. 11 at Laurel Park and include a bobblehead giveaway in the likeness of the 26-time stakes winner and four-time Maryland Horse of the Year bred, owned and trained by Hall of Fame horseman King Leatherbury.
Maryland Jockey Club officials originally set aside the date as a ceremony to honor Ben's Cat on his retirement at age 11 just days after he ran ninth in the Mister Diz June 24 at Laurel. Ben's Cat was sent to the Kentucky farm of Bayne and Christina Welker June 28 but developed colic and underwent surgery July 6. He was euthanized July 18 due to post-surgical complications.
Laurel remembered Ben's Cat on its first day of live racing following his passing with a moment of silence prior to the first race July 21. Maryland's state flag was also lowered to half-staff in the infield in honor of the Parker's Storm Cat gelding, a winner of 32 races, four Grade 3 stakes and more than $2.6 million in purse earnings from 63 lifetime starts.
“As you know by now, on Tuesday July 18 Maryland racing lost a thoroughbred legend, Ben's Cat,” track announcer Dave Rodman said as a video montage of Ben's Cat played. “Ben's Cat had a fan base that stretched far and wide, outside of Maryland as well, through his eight years of racing.
“Our condolences go out to King Leatherbury, King's assistant Avon Thorpe, Ben's groom Fern Augusti; Doug Leatherman, who was on his back many, many mornings, and everyone who helped Ben throughout his unforgettable career.”
In addition to the Ben's Cat tribute, Laurel will host six stakes Nov. 11 – the $100,000 Smart Halo and James F. Lewis III for 2-year-olds; $100,000 City of Laurel and Safely Kept for 3-year-olds; and $100,000 Richard W. Small and $75,000 Geisha for 3-year-olds and up, the latter for Maryland-bred/sired horses.
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