Digest (Dec. 21): Ben's Cat wins national horse racing award for popularity

Ben's Cat, an 11-year-old gelding who died in July because of complications from colic surgery, was named the winner of the Vox Populi Award, an honor created in 2010 by Penny Chenery, the late owner of Hall of Famer Secretariat, to "recognize the racehorse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the public and gained recognition for the sport in the past year." Ben's Cat, trained by King Leatherbury, won 32 races, including 26 stakes and earned more than $2.6 million in 63 starts. Vox Populi is Latin for "Voice of the People." Racing fans chose Ben's Cat in online voting over fellow candidates Arrogate, the all-time North American purse earner; Gun Runner, expected to be named 2017 Horse of the Year during next month's Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream Park; Lady Eli, who overcame laminitis to add to her multiple Grade 1 stakes-winning resume; one-eyed Patch and Songbird. Ben's Cat is the eighth Vox Populi winner, following Zenyatta (2010), Rapid Redux (2011), Paynter (2012), Mucho Macho Man (2013), American Pharoah (2015) and California Chrome (2014, 2016). He will be formally presented with the award in a ceremony Jan. 20 at Santa Anita. Ben's Cat had his ashes buried at Laurel Park on Nov. 11.

Laurel schedule: A total of 161 nominations were made to six stakes worth $550,000 in purses on the Christmastide Stakes Day progam Dec. 30. Because of the Christmas holiday, entries for all six stakes will be taken Saturday. Laurel will host live racing today and Saturday and finish the 2017 with programs Tuesday and Dec. 29-31.



Johns Hopkins ranks at topof D-III national standings

For the first time in program history, Johns Hopkins has ended a season ranked No. 1 in the Learfield Directors' Cup Standings — the school tops the final 2017-18 fall standings with 383 points. Six Blue Jays teams competed in NCAA championship competition. The Learfield Directors' Cup was developed by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and USA Today. Through the course of the year, Directors' Cup points are awarded based on a school's finish in up to 18 sports in NCAA championships. Rounding out the top five are MIT (319.5), Middlebury (301), St. Thomas (270) and Wisconsin LaCrosse (270).

Indoor football: The Tampa Bay Storm have ceased operations, the Arena Football League said. The Storm have been a part of the AFL since the league formed in 1987, first as the Pittsburgh Gladiators from 1987 to 1990 before relocating to Tampa Bay in 1991.

Major league baseball: Brandon Kintzler and the Nationals have finalized a two-year, $10 million contract that keeps the relief pitcher in Washington. Kintzler will earn $5 million next year under the deal announced Thursday.

Youth baseball: U.S. Baseball Academy opened its facility in Towson and is registering players for its winter/spring program. The spring training program will be directed by Towson University coach Matt Tyner. Proceeds from the program benefit amateur baseball in Towson. U.S. Baseball Academy is a national training program operating at nearly 250 locations across the United States. Go to for more information or to register.

From Sun staff and news services