TIMONIUM, MD - For the second year in a row, King T. Leatherbury's homebred gelding Ben's Cat was named Maryland-bred Horse of the Year in the annual poll conducted by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. In a year when a number of outstanding Maryland-bred runners divided the votes, Ben's Cat also took the title as champion turf runner for a third consecutive year, and repeated as champion older male.
Surpassing $1 million in career earnings in 2012, Ben's Cat won five of his nine starts last season at age 6, all in stakes company. He defended his title in Parx Racing's Grade 3 Turf Monster Handicap at five furlongs on the turf, broke the course record for five furlongs in the Parx Dash Handicap with a time of :54.96, and won the Maryland Million Turf Sprint at Laurel for a third consecutive year. Ben's Cat launched his 2012 campaign with his third victory in Pimlico's Mister Diz Stakes, and closed it in dramatic fashion in the Fabulous Strike Handicap at Penn National. His only main track start of the year, he got up in the final strides in the Fabulous Strike to defeat Immortal Eyes, with Grade 1 winner Poseidon's Warrior finishing third, and completed six furlongs in 1:09.50.
A son of Parker's Storm Cat out of Twofox, by Thirty Eight Paces, Ben's Cat is from the same family as state-bred champions Thirty Eight Go Go, Notches Trace and Ah Day, all bred by Leatherbury. Unraced until May of his 4-year-old season in 2010, Ben's Cat earned champion sprinter and turf runner titles that year, and in 2011 was named champion sprinter, turf runner and older male. In three seasons to race, he has 19 wins, three seconds and a third from 29 starts for earnings of $1,357,290.
Seven of the 2012 champions were conceived in Maryland: Not For Love (Mystic Love), Great Notion (Jazzy Idea) and the late Two Punch (Alpha Mike Foxtrot and Bold Affair) at Northview Stallion Station; Gators N Bears (Action Andy), Maryland Stallion Station (he later stood at Shamrock Farm until his death last year); and former Country Life Farm stallions Press Card (Incomplete) and Parker's Storm Cat.
Other divisional champions
Champion 2-year-old male: Alpha Mike Foxtrot (b.g., Two Punch-Shashobegon, by Broad Brush). Bred by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman and Richard Small; owned by Larry Knight Jr.; trained by Richard W. Small.
Champion 2-year-old filly: Mystic Love (dk.b./br.f., Not For Love-Memories of Mystic, by Dixie Union). Bred by Dark Hollow Farm; owned by John Davison; trained by Francis and Jessica Campitelli.
Champion 3-year-old male: Bellefire (ch.c., Proud Citizen-Lovely Langfuhr, by Langfuhr). Bred and owned by Joe Balsamo; trained by Leo Azpurua Jr.
Champion 3-year-old filly: Jazzy Idea (dk.b./br.f., Great Notion-Jazz Band, by Dixieland Band). Bred by Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Merryman; owned and trained by Edwin Merryman.
Champion older female: Bold Affair (ch.m., 2008, Two Punch-Hunka Hunka Lori Z, by Colonial Affair). Bred and owned by Charles Reed and Michael Zanella; trained by Howard Wolfendale.
Champion sprinter: Action Andy (dk.b./br.g., 2007, Gators N Bears-Love Me Twice, by Not For Love). Bred by Carol Kaye; owned by Robert Gerczak; trained by Carlos Garcia.
Champion steeplechaser: Incomplete (b.g., 2001, Press Card-Sioux Lady, by Poker). Bred by Hugo Procopio; owned by Robert A. Kinsley; trained by Ann D. Stewart.
Voting for this year's champions were the MHBA board of directors, Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred editors Joe Clancy and Cindy Deubler, Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary Georganne Hale, stakes coordinator Coleman Blind, communications director Mike Gathagan and track announcer Dave Rodman, Bill Brasaemle and Keith Feustle of Equibase, free-lance writers Andy Beyer, Ted Black, Sean Clancy, Maggie Kimmitt, Vinnie Perrone and John Scheinman, radio host Stan Salter, photographer Lydia Williams and Maryland website blogger Frank Vespe.
Profiles of all the Maryland-bred champions will be posted later this month at marylandthoroughbred.com and can be found in the March issue of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine.
For more information go to
marylandthoroughbred.com or call 410-252-2100