A fourth win for Ben's Cat in the Parx Dash won't be easy

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July 7th, 2015

The venerable Maryland-bred Ben's Cat will attempt to win Saturday's $200,000 Parx Dash H. (G3) on Saturday for the fourth year in a row. If not for a head loss to El Churruca in the 2011 edition, Ben's Cat would be going for his fifth straight in the five-furlong turf sprint.

Winning any stakes, graded or otherwise, four times or more in succession is an absolute rarity in the sport. For obvious reasons, geldings are typically the ones to do it. In big-time racing, notable examples include Kelso winning five straight Jockey Club Gold Cups (1960-64) and Forego winning four straight Woodwards (1974-77).

In the minors, the Nebraska-based Leaping Plum was in a league of his own. Although it was only a four-furlong stake with a purse ranging from $10,000 to $15,000, Fonner Park's Grasmick H. fell to Leaping Plum seven straight years (1995-2001). For good measure, he tacked on an eighth win in 2003.

Bred, owned, and trained by King Leatherbury, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next month, Ben's Cat perhaps has slowed down a touch in the past year. The multi-millionaire, nine-year-old has won only three of his past nine starts. However, he's always brought his "A" game to Parx, where he owns a 8-5-2-1 mark which also includes two wins in the Parx Monster H. (G3).

Ben's Cat most recently was on the wrong side of a three-way photo in the $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup at Penn National, a race pulled out by Amelia's Wild Ride in a mild upset. That one joins Ben's Cat Saturday as does Bold Thunder, who weakened slightly to third after setting the pace in the Governor's Cup.

The one they might all have to fear is the Australian import Power Alert, who set a Churchill Downs course record winning the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) two back. The gray has won three of five starts since his importation, not much caring for less-than-firm ground at Keeneland in the April 4 Shakertown (G3) and not lasting the six furlongs of the Jaipur (G3) at Belmont Park in his most recent start June 6. He'll prove hard to catch cutting back in distance.

There's a total of 11 entered in the Parx Dash, but it's hard to see past any of the four mentioned. A possible kicker for the exotics is 2014 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup winner Tightend Touchdown. His recent form is not stellar, but he's run second or third in four previous tries on the Parx turf and was only a nose behind Ben's Cat in this event last year.

(Photo: Bill Denver/Equi-Photo)