April 23, 2024

Prolific stakes winner Ben’s Cat euthanized at age 11

Ben's Cat won the hearts and admiration of horsemen and fans around the country (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

Ben’s Cat, whose longevity on the racetrack made him a fan favorite in the mid-Atlantic and throughout the country as he compiled a prodigious tally of 26 career stakes wins for Hall of Fame trainer King Leatherbury, who also bred and owned the 11-year-old gelding, was euthanized Tuesday due to complications following colic surgery earlier this month.

“It is with great sadness that we report that Ben’s Cat was euthanized this afternoon due to post-operative complications following colic surgery,” said Dr. Rana Bozorgmanesh, an internal medicine specialist at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Kentucky, who was overseeing his care.

Ben’s Cat, who was just retired last month to Bayne and Chris Welker’s Spring Ridge Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, underwent colic surgery on July 6 to repair an epiploic foramen entrapment.

“I had loved Ben for years and was beyond grateful that Mr. Leatherbury entrusted me with his care,” Chris Welker said. “I am so thankful to the team at Hagyard for the round-the-clock care they provided Ben since his surgery nearly two weeks ago. Their efforts were incredible, but his medical issues became insurmountable. My heart is shattered, not only for Ben, but for Mr. Leatherbury, the team who took care of him day in and day out for years and the fans who loved him.”

A Maryland-bred, Ben’s Cat was awarded his state’s Horse of the Year title four times, recording a lifetime mark of 63-32-9-7, $2,643,782. Although he won on dirt and over a route of ground, Ben’s Cat’s forte was turf sprints. He often gained the most national attention on Preakness weekend at Pimlico with his frequent appearances in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint, a race he won five times in seven tries. The 2016 edition of the race proved to be the last win of his career.

In addition to his enormous success in the McKay, Ben’s Cat also won the Mister Diz for Maryland-breds six times and the Maryland Million Turf Sprint three times. In open company, Ben’s Cat’s won the Turf Monster H. (G3) twice and the Parx Dash (G3) three times, as well as the Fabulous Strike H. on dirt at Penn National three times.

A son of Parker’s Storm Cat and the stakes-placed Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox, Ben’s Cat’s was one of the most prolific stakes winners in modern U.S. racing history. His career total was exceeded by only a select few such as Hall of Famers Native Diver, Kelso, and Round Table.

Click HERE for Ben’s Cat’s lifetime past performances.