Ben's Cat answered any questions about whether he'd lost a step with an emphatic score in the Fabulous Strike at Penn National Thanksgiving weekend.
Voters in the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred Poll were apparently paying attention. They made him the Top Midlantic-bred for 2014.
The eight-year-old son of Parker's Storm Cat out of the Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox garnered 57 points in voting among mid-Atlantic-based media members -- eight more than runner-up Miss Behaviour.
Ben's Cat has become a regional fan favorite with his talent, longevity, and just-in-time style. Primarily a turf sprinter, he has earned more than $2.3 million in his career while winning 28 of 45 career starts. He's won the Mister Diz Stakes five times and the Jim McKay Turf Sprint (at Pimlico) and Parx Dash three each. On the main track, he's won the Fabulous Strike, at Penn National, three times.
Ben's Cat was bred in Maryland by King Leatherbury, who also trains and owns him. For the season, Ben's Cat won four of eight starts, all in stakes company, including the Grade 3 Parx Dash, in which he launched a dazzling late run to arrive just in time. He placed in three other stakes. Ben's Cat earned $458,350 in 2014.
Ben's Cat's victory in this year's Fabulous Strike, against a salty field that included Grade 1 winner Strapping Groom and hard hitters like Bern Identity and favored River Rocks, was especially impressive. He tracked the pace from mid-pack while three wide on the turn in the six-furlong event, tipped out for clear sailing in the lane, and simply blew past the field to register a three-length win.
A Grade 1-placed horse and a pair of Grade 1 winners filled the poll's next three spots.
Pennsylvania-bred Miss Behaviour edged another Pennsylvania-bred, Real Solution for the second spot. Miss Behaviour, trained in Maryland by Phil Schoenthal and owned by Cal MacWilliam and Neil Teitelbaum, who also bred her, won a pair of stakes this year, including the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks. She also placed in three graded events, including the Grade 1 Test, at Saratoga.
For his part, Real Solution was one of two Grade 1 winners bred in the region. Bred and owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, he had a first and a second from five starts on the season. He ran second in the Grade 1 Man o' War at Belmont Park in May and followed that up with his lone victory, in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes on Belmont Stakes day.
The region's other Grade 1 winner, The Big Beast, finished fourth in the final balloting. The Big Beast won three times on the season, most notably getting up late to win the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga. It was his only try in stakes company. The Maryland-bred is trained by Anthony Dutrow for Alex and JoAnn Lieblong; he was bred by Green Willow Farm.
The remainder of the top seven includes a trio of Virginia-breds. They include Grade 2 winners Valid, bred by the late Edward P. Evans, and Long On Value, bred by Snow Lantern Thoroughbreds; and Grade 3 winner Thank You Marylou, bred by Mr. & Mrs. C.W. McNeely III.
TOP MIDLANTIC-BRED HORSES
Ben's Cat (57) -- Maryland
Miss Behaviour (49) -- Pennsylvania
Real Solution (48) -- Pennsylvania
The Big Beast (35) -- Maryland
Valid (17) -- Virginia
Thank You Marylou (14) -- Virginia
Long On Value (11) -- Virginia
Others receiving votes: Favorite Tale, Down Town Allen, Eighttofasttocatch, Delaunay, Russell Road, Dame Dorothy, Giovannia Boldinid, Princess of Sylmar, Code West, Golden Years, Hear the Chatter, Embarr, Daring Dancer
Participating Voters: Ted Black (freelance writer), Michael Campbell (Thoroughbred Breeders' Association of New Jersey), Cindy Deubler (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred), Linda Dougherty (freelance), Debbie Easter (Virginia Thoroughbred Association), Anne Frederick (Maryland Horse Breeders Association), Cricket Goodall (Maryland Horse Breeders Association), Jim Hague (freelance), Nick Hahn (freelance), Jeff Nations (freelance), Kate Painter (West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association), Vinnie Perrone (freelance), Frank Petramalo (Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association), David Richardson (Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association), John Scheinman (freelance), Dan Tordjman (freelance), Frank Vespe (The Racing Biz), Bill Watson (freelance), Lydia Williams (freelance), Bobby Zen (freelance).