King Leatherbury’s Two Greatest ‘Regrets’ About Ben’s Cat

Reflecting after Saturday’s burial ceremony at Laurel Park, King Leatherbury told that he had “regrets, about Ben.” The breeder and trainer of Maryland legend Ben’s Cat, Leatherbury’s two greatest regrets come in the form of bets he didn’t make on the 32-time winning gelding.

The first bet Leatherbury didn’t make came just after Ben’s Cat’s birth in 2006. It costs $500 to nominate a foal to the Breeders’ Cup, and he decided that Ben’s Cat wasn’t worth the investment.

“His breeding didn’t suggest he’d be that quality of horse,” Leatherbury said of the son of Parker’s Storm Cat.

After overcoming a broken hip, Ben’s Cat finally made it to the track as a 4-year-old. He won his first start in a $20,000 maiden claiming race, and continued on to win his first eight starts in a row. By 2011, Ben’s Cat was rated as one of the top turf sprinters in the nation, and he earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with a win in the $356,000 Turf Monster Handicap at Parx.

Since Leatherbury hadn’t paid the $500 fee at Ben’s Cat’s birth, the fee to nominate the now 5-year-old gelding to the Breeders’ Cup was up to $100,000. The trainer tried several different partnerships to make the fee, but in the end none of those panned out and Leatherbury decided not to bet on his horse for the second time.

The 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Regally Ready was a horse Ben’s Cat had just defeated in the Turf Monster.

Obviously, it wasn’t all bad for Leatherbury and Ben’s Cat. The gelding was voted Maryland Horse of the Year four times, and he ended up earning over $2.6 million over a 63-race career. Ben’s Cat retired at the end of June this year, but suffered a bout of colic and passed away shortly after arriving at his retirement home in Kentucky.

“I probably didn’t try hard enough to get Ben in [the 2011 Breeders’ Cup],” Leatherbury said. “I think he would’ve won it that year, and he’d have been right there in the money for the next couple years. I wish I would have known the future a bit. That would have changed things. That’s in the past, and who knows. But, yeah, regrets.”


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