The Maryland Horse Breeders Association honored its 2011 champions last night at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Amazing setting, good company and one hysterical acceptance speech from trainer King T. Leatherbury.
His horse Ben’s Cat won Horse of the Year, older male, turf runner and sprinter awards for a superb season on the track – six wins in 11 starts and more than $588,000 in earnings. His trainer offered thanks, poked a little fun at the emcee (Laurel/Pimlico announcer) Dave Rodman and then started talking . . .
Among the highlights (paraphrased somewhat, since it would be impossible to tell it exactly like Leatherbury):
“It took a long time to get here. Did anyone else get lost? I got behind this guy who was going really slow. I stayed behind him for a while and then I just felt like I had to give him a little bump, a nudge, to see if I could speed him up. Well, he went right over the handlebars . . .”
“Later, this guy in a truck comes right at me, right at me . . . he was headed right for me, with no warning or anything. Well, the front of his truck did say DODGE so I guess that was something.”
Leatherbury meandered to the national debt and the difference between a million and a billion – “a million seconds is 11 1/2 days and a billion seconds is 32 1/2 years,” or something like that. He finished up with a short comment on racing and training winners – he’s had 6,342 – going all the way back to the early days.
“I was at Bowie and this horse looked like he was going to win. I remember thinking ‘If I never win another race, let me win this one.’ He won and I still get the same thrill out of it today. It keeps you young.”
Yes it does.
2011 Maryland-bred Champions
Horse of the Year, older male, turf runner, sprinter: Ben’s Cat.
Older Female: Ask The Moon.
3-year-old Filly: Bold Affair.
3-year-old Male: Poseidon’s Warrior.
2-year-old Filly: Plum.
2-year-old Colt: Jack’s In The Deck.
Broodmare of the Year: Gabby’s Love.
Stallion of the Year: Not For Love.