Reigning Maryland-bred Horse of the Year Ben's Cat captured his 10th stakes victory Saturday in the $75,000 Mister Diz Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Ben's Cat, with Horacio Karamanos aboard, beat Steady Warrior by a neck in 57.26 seconds, winning the Mister Diz for the third straight year (on Pimlico's main track last year and on grass at Laurel Park in 2010).
"To a lot of people, he is the best horse on the turf," said Karamanos, who filled in for regular jockey Jeremy Rose (dislocated shoulder). "He's a machine. I didn't even have to hit him. I just touched him on the left shoulder, and he took off. I am so glad to finally ride him."
It was anything but an easy victory for Ben's Cat, trained by King Leatherbury. Steady Warrior, who had lost to Ben's Cat by a length in October's Maryland Million Turf Sprint, beat out Delaunay for the lead and was running clear before being overtaken in the last 40 yards.
"Good effort, but good doesn't beat Ben's Cat," said Steady Warrior's trainer, Gary Capuano. "I have to see [Ben's Cat] every day. He is in the barn next to me, and I know how good he is."
Leatherbury said of Ben's Cat, who paid $3.20: "He is fresh and I thought he would be near the lead, but he was way back. He scares you a little bit, especially today. He's back there like he's not running a lick, and then he runs in the stretch to get the job done. Once he gets rolling, you feel like he's going to win."
Ben's Cat will make his next start in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Spring at Pimlico on May 18, Leatherbury said. The horse, who has won 15 of 21 starts in his career, will be going for his second straight win the race.
Gemologist takes Wood
Gemologist, ridden by Javier Castellano, held off Withers Stakes winner Alpha to capture the $1 million Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. The 6-5 favorite covered the 11/8 miles in 1:50.96 on a fast track.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Gemologist was racing in fourth in the eight-horse field with the pace being set by The Limber Guy from the outside post. Alpha, with Ramon Dominguez riding, was racing off the pace after breaking from the inside post.
Around the final turn, Gemologist moved into third with Alpha quickly moving to fourth behind The Lumber Guy. Coming out of the turn the favorite gained the lead three wide.
Gemologist, owned by WinStar Farm, powered clear inside the furlong pole as Alpha took over second. With less than 100 yards to go Alpha began to cut into the lead but came up a neck short at the wire.
Gemologist returned $4.40, $3.00 and $2.40. Teeth of the Dog finished third; Sagamore Farms' Tiger Walk was fourth.
'Another' wins Santa Anita
I'll Have Another held off 4-5 favorite Creative Cause to capture the $750,000 Grade I Santa Anita Derby for 3-year-olds. Ridden by Mario Gutierrez, the 4-1 second choice ran the 11/8 miles in 1:47.88 on a fast track.
Creative Cause finished second, and Blueskiesnrainbows was third. I'll Have Another paid $10.20, $4.20 and $3.60.