Ben’s Cat, the beloved Maryland-bred gelding who tragically passed away due to complications from colic soon after retiring this summer, has been voted the 2017 Secretariat Vox Populi Award, or “Voice of the People,” in an online poll of racing fans. The announcement was made Sunday evening.
Bred, owned, and conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer King Leatherbury, Ben’s Cat compiled a lifetime mark of 63-32-9-7, $2,643,782, winning 26 stakes.
“It is quite an honor for Ben’s Cat to receive this impressive award,” Leatherbury said. “I never would have guessed his fan base reached that far. Ben’s Cat won a lot of races, and I sure did enjoy racing him. This is really something.”
Created in 2010 by the late Penny Chenery, the owner of Secretariat, the Vox Populi Award recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.
“My mother created this award to honor the horses whose stories draw people to Thoroughbred racing and convert them to fans,” said Kate Tweedy, daughter of Mrs. Chenery. “She certainly admired the journey of Ben’s Cat and would have been thrilled with the outcome of this year’s voting. Our family looks forward to meeting Mr. Leatherbury and sharing this special celebration with racing fans.”
The Tweedy family will present the custom-made Vox Populi trophy to Leatherbury on January 20 at Santa Anita. In conjunction with the presentation, a variety of festivities will be offered to the public, including a special Vox Populi poster giveaway, autograph signing and silent auction.
Previous winners of the Vox Populi Award were: California Chrome (2016 and 2014), American Pharoah (2015), Mucho Macho Man (2013), Paynter (2012), Rapid Redux (2011), and Zenyatta (2010).