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Ben's Cat wins fourth straight Jim McKay Turf Sprint

Horses are paraded around before a race a day prior to the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on on May 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Horses are paraded around before a race a day prior to the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on on May 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Patrick Smith / Getty Images)

Trainer King Leatherbury's ageless horse keeps winning.

Ben's Cat, a 10-year-old gelding, won the Jim McKay Turf Sprint for the fourth straight year and fifth time in six years Friday at Pimlico Race Course.

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The race, the seventh at Pimlico on Friday, is five furlongs on turf with a $100,000 purse. With the win, Ben's Cat now has 32 wins in 55 starts and is the 98th horse since 1976 to win a stakes race at age 10.

"[He] doesn't seem to be [getting old]," said Leatherbury, 83. "I know it just brings tears to my eyes when he runs a race like that. But it's just so thrilling, and I make a joke of it. I say, 'This proves that thrill does not weaken your health. Because I would have been dead a couple years ago.' "

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Ben's Cat started slow and was fourth at the first turn and third heading into the final stretch. But he powered through to win by a neck over Spring to the Sky.

King Leatherbury, who was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame in 2015, has now saddled horses in 35,855 starts with 6,469 wins.

"This horse, I'll never be able to forget him," Leatherbury said. "Of course, he's the one keeping me going right now."

Noble Bird wins Pimlico Special

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Trainer Mark Casse said his horse Noble Bird is the toughest horse to ride that he has ever trained.

But Noble Bird was a winner Friday in the Pimlico Special, beating Idolo Porteno by 11 ¼ lengths in the 1 3/16-mile stakes race.

"It's a funny thing, because as a 2-year-old, I told [owner John Oxley], 'This horse is going to win the Kentucky Derby,'" Casse said. "That's the ability he's displayed. But he is his own worst enemy."

Noble Bird led the whole way, running the first half-mile in 47.48 seconds.

"He has to get into his rhythm and into his stride," Casse said. "Once he does that, he's hell on wheels — or hell on heels, I guess."

All week, the connections to the Preakness' top contenders have been asked an impossible question: What will your horse do in the downpour that might drench the racetrack, or might not come at all? Their answers have differed only in style.

Other competitors in the six-horse race included fourth-place Savoy Stomp and last-place Hesinfront, trained by Todd Pletcher and Dale Romans, respectively. Pletcher (Stradivari) and Romans (Cherry Wine) will both saddle horses in the Preakness on Saturday at Pimlico.

Casse also has a horse in the Preakness, but his Fellowship is a 30-1 long shot.

"We have to have some luck," Casse said. "I don't think the rain will hurt us. We need a big pace and some luck."



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