Every time I think Ben’s Cat can’t do anything more awesome, I am proven wrong.
Ben’s Cat is not one of those horses who typically wins by a huge margin. The 2014 Fabulous Strike Handicap, which he won by 3 1/4 lengths, was a bit of an anomaly. His winning margins are more typically a neck, half a length…he makes everyone sweat, but he wins. He gets there. His record of 31 wins in 54 lifetimes starts going into today was enough of a testament to that.
Today, with a sixteenth to go, it didn’t look like Ben’s Cat was going to get there.
Rocket Heat had turned for home with a daylight lead, but that lead was shortening. Spring to the Sky was making a move on the outside, and it looked like he would be the one who would catch the 4/5 favourite. Ben’s Cat had improved position, but almost looked like he was flattening out. For a horse hoping to win his fifth Jim McKay Turf Sprint, his fourth consecutive, it looked like he would have to settle for third at best.
But, so many times when you start to count the Cat out, he finds a way to prove you wrong. Trevor McCarthy got him off the rail, and Ben’s Cat found his next gear. He split the fading Rocket Heat and the rallying Spring to the Sky. He surged.
Once again, he got a neck in front when it mattered. Half an hour later, I’m still wiping happy tears from my eyes.
Two years ago, after Ben’s Cat won his third Jim McKay Turf Sprint, I marveled at how good Ben’s Cat was for the sport of horse racing. Every word of that holds true after his fifth victory. It is rare enough to have a horse running in such consistent and classy for at eight nowadays. At ten? Even moreso.
Ben’s Cat loves to run, and has a thrilling competitive fire. King Leatherbury and his team have done excellent work to keep it burning. He runs a full season each year, but also gets a break ever year. He is spotted impeccably, exactly where he can succeed. And, his performance proves this is all working — he is ten years old, as consistent and honest as a horse can be, and competitive at the same level where he has been for so many years.
A sixteenth of a mile out from the finish of today’s Jim McKay Turf Sprint, any horse of any age in Ben’s Cat’s position would have looked up against it behind Spring to the Sky and Rocket Heat.
It took a special horse to run them down, and Ben’s Cat is a special horse.