Shady Side trainer King Leatherbury, 81, is pointing Ben's Cat to the Mister Diz Stakes at Pimlico on April 5.
Shady Side trainer King Leatherbury, 81, is pointing Ben's Cat to the Mister Diz Stakes at Pimlico on April 5. (Courtesy photo, Capital Gazette)

Laurel's Fall Festival of Racing is Saturday

Ten sprinters, including local star Ben's Cat, have been entered in Saturday's 23rd running of the $350,000, 6-furlong Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park. Introduced in 1990, the De Francis Dash is one of the elite 6-furlong sprints in the country with four of the 22 winners — Housebuster (1991), Cherokee Run (1994), Smoke Glacken (1997) and Thor's Echo (2006) — earning Eclipse Award honors for champion sprinter. The Fall Festival of Racing card also features five $100,000 stakes races. Total purses for the nine-race program are $981,000, making it the fourth biggest on the Maryland racing calendar this year, trailing only the Preakness ($2.85 million), Black-Eyed Susan ($1.6 million) and Maryland Million ($1 million) cards. Although he is famous for being one of the top turf sprinters in the country, Ben's Cat (8-1) is no slouch on the main track with 10 victories in 14 tries, including five stakes wins, and is 6-for-7 at the De Francis distance. Overall, the King Leatherbury homebred is 27-of-44 lifetime for earnings of $2,200,990. "I was reluctant to enter and am not sure we will run because there are some really tough horses in here," Leatherbury said. "I have the option of running him in the Fabulous Strike at Penn National in a couple weeks. He has done some good things on the dirt, but there are too many good horses in here who are faster. The race came up really tough and it is supposed to. There are only so many big races for sprinters." Maryland Jockey Club handicapper Keith Feustle made the 8-year-old an 8-1 shot on the morning line. Julian Pimentel is named to ride Ben's Cat and Dads Caps, the 5-2 morning line favorite. Dads Caps won the Carter Handicap in April and has had runner-up finishes in three graded races this year.



UMBC reaches America East men's soccer title game

For the fourth time in five seasons, the UMBC men's soccer will compete for an America East championship, as the top-seeded Retrievers defeated No. 5 Vermont, 3-1, in the league tournament semifinal match. UMBC's opponent in 2014 will be the one it faced in 2013, as second-seeded and host Hartford defeated No. 3 Binghamton, 2-1, in overtime to earn the right to a rematch with the Retrievers. The match will again take place at Retriever Soccer Park, this time on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Retrievers (11-5-3) extended their season-long winning streak to five with the come-from-behind victory. Vermont's season ended at 8-9-2. After the Catamounts scored in the ninth minute, UMBC got goals from redshirt defensive midfielder Gregg Hauck (North County) in the 11th minute and senior forward Kay Banjo, a transfer from Towson, in the 30th.

More men's soccer: Loyola Maryland senior back Joseph Cahalan (Gilman) has been named to the Academic All-Patriot League team for the second straight season.

Women's soccer: Johns Hopkins senior forward Hannah Kronick was named Centennial Conference Player of the Year for the third straight season. The all-time leading scorer in school and conference history, Kronick is the first player in conference history to win the award three times. Players joining Kronick on the first team include Blue Jays senior midfielder and forward Sydney Teng and sophomore midfielder Ana Bengoechea and McDaniel senior defender Kristin Hart. The second team included Hopkins sophomore defender Adrienne Johnson, Hopkins senior defender Emily Nagourney and McDaniel sophomore forward Nicole Hill.

Women's basketball: Brianna Fraser and Kiah Gillespie will join the Maryland women's basketball team as the No. 10 recruiting class in the nation and the 10th top-10 recruiting class brought in by coach Brenda Frese and her staff in her 13 years with the Terps. Fraser, a 6-foot-3 forward from Brooklyn, N.Y., is ranked No. 12 overall by the All Star Girls Report and No. 15 overall by ESPN's Hoop Gurlz. Gillespie, a 6-2 forward from Meriden, Conn., is ranked No. 14 by Prospects Nation and No. 27 by Hoop Gurlz.

Men's basketball: UMBC junior post player Cody Joyce (Southern) was granted a legislative relief waiver from the NCAA and may compete immediately for the Retrievers. He will have two years of eligibility at UMBC. Joyce competed for two seasons for Houston Baptist and averaged 7.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in 60 appearances. … James Fives, a 6-6 wing from The Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., has signed a national letter of intent to play for Loyola Maryland.

Women's swimming: Navy freshmen Jenny Smith and Hannah Collins were named Patriot League Swimmer and Diver of the Week, respectively.

Et cetera

Zimmermann unavailable for Cubs, club source says

A Chicago Cubs source rebutted a published report that the club was in talks with the Washington Nationals to acquire All-Star starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and had even discussed names. "We've had no discussions, and he's not available," the source told the Chicago Tribune. The report said an unnamed source expected the Cubs to "complete the deal." Zimmermann, 28, is in the final year of his contract and expects a nine-figure deal if he enters the free-agent market next year.

More baseball: Gary Sarnoff will discuss his book "The First Yankees Dynasty: Babe Ruth, Miller Huggins and the Bronx Bombers of the 1920s" at a meeting of "Talkin' Baseball" at 9 a.m. Dec. 6 at Brighton Gardens at 7110 Minstrel Way in Columbia.

Major Arena Soccer League: Blast defender Pat Healey has been named to the Team of the Week. The team allowed only three goals last week in its season-opening 16-7 win against the Syracuse Silver Knights. Healey, who recently made appearances with the US National Arena Team, blocked two shots and had an assist.

Youth basketball: Charm City Basketball is accepting team registrations for its Annual Thanksgiving HoopFest. Teams are guaranteed three games in the Nov. 22-23 tournament, and divisions are ordered by grade. Registration costs $295 for one team, $270 each for two teams and $250 each for three teams. For more information, call Jeff Harshman at 443-520-2464.

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