Former Maryland Horse Of The Year, Ben’s Cat, Dies

The following appeared in July 19th.

Four-time Maryland Horse of the Year and multi-million dollar-earner Ben’s Cat, who underwent colic surgery July 6 to repair an epiploic foramen entrapment, was euthanized July 18 due to complications that arose during his recovery.

“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, who was overseeing his care.

Ben’s Cat underwent colic surgery July 6th in Kentucky but did not survive complications. Photo by Anne M. Eberhardt.

Ben’s Cat earned the love and admiration of racing fans throughout the country, especially in his home base of Maryland, through an eight-year racing career that saw him earn 26 stakes victories in 63 lifetime starts with earnings of $2,634,782. Best known for his consecutive victories in the Turf Monster Handicap (G3T) in 2011 through 2012 and the Parx Dash Handicap (G3T) in 2012 through 2014, Ben’s Cat also won a record six installments of the Mister Diz Stakes in 2010 through 2015, and won five editions of the Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes in 2011 and 2013 through 2016. While Ben’s Cat was primarily a turf specialist, he showed his propensity for the dirt as well, winning the Fabulous Strike Handicap in three consecutive years from 2012 to 2014.

The winningest son of Parker’s Storm Cat, Ben’s Cat was bred, owned, and trained throughout his career by King Leatherbury. He was produced by the stakes-placed Thirty Eight Paces mare Twofox, who was also bred, owned, and trained by Leatherbury.

“I’m devastated over the news,” Leatherbury said. “It’s a tragic ending to a magnificent racehorse. I’m highly saddened. I had all the glory and all the excitement and thrills anything could ever give a man in Ben’s Cat.”

Ben’s Cat, the only four-time Maryland Horse of the Year, retired in June to Bayne and Chris Welker’s Spring Ridge Farm in Versailles, Ky. On the day of his arrival, Chris Welker said she was looking forward to giving the gelding some well-deserved time off. She planned to eventually let the horse tell her what he felt like doing next, whether trail riding, jumping, or simply enjoying retirement.

“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.”