Justwaveandsmile Strong Rally in Ben’s Cat

July 30, 2022

LAUREL, Md. – Steve Newby’s Justwaveandsmile came with a strong late run on the far outside to pass 3-5 favorite Grateful Bred and Grade 3 winner Jaxon Traveler and earn his third consecutive win and sixth in a row on the turf in Saturday’s $75,000 Ben’s Cat at Laurel Park.

The fifth running of the Ben’s Cat for 3-year-olds and up and 34th renewal of the Jameela for fillies and mares 3 and older, both sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the turf, were among four $75,000 stakes restricted to Maryland-bred/sired horses on a 10-race program headlined by the $100,000 Deputed Testamony for 3-year-olds and up.

It was the first career stakes win for jockey Jean Alvelo, aboard for back-to-back 5 ½-furlong turf sprint wins June 17 and July 2 at Laurel heading into the Ben’s Cat, Justwaveandsmile’s stakes debut.

“[It’s] more than amazing. It’s a dream come true,” Alvelo said. “You come in here every morning and work horses and try to do the best you can. I really do appreciate all the help from Dale and the owner. I’m more than excited.”

As expected, Jaxon Traveler, winner of the May 21 Chick Lang (G3) on dirt in his prior start, got out quickly and was in front after an opening quarter-mile of 23.90 seconds, pressed to his outside by 2021 Maryland Million Turf Sprint winner Grateful Bred. The top two turned for home together before Grateful Bred forged a short lead following a half in 46.89, with Alvelo staying patient.

“We were trying to rely on the speed to go and sit off of it and make one late run,” Alvelo said. “Thankfully the speed went and were able to stalk it and he made a good move.”

Grateful Bred remained in front while Jaxon Traveler dug in along the rail, but neither could hold off Justwaveandsmile’s late flourish on the far outside. The 5-year-old Secret Circle gelding ran 1:04.46 over a Kelso turf course rated good to edge Grateful Bred by a neck, with Jaxon Traveler a length back in third.

Showtime Cat was fourth, a neck behind Jaxon Traveler. Kenny Had a Notion, Double Crown and Youngest of Five completed the order of finish. Matta and Alwaysinahurry, the latter entered for main track only, were scratched.

Justwaveandsmile began his career on the dirt before being moved to the turf last summer. He posted three straight wins to end 2021 and opened 2022 running fourth in an off-the-turf optional claimer May 15 at historic Pimlico Race Course prior to his current streak.

“We were hopeful that he would run well. He’s been doing well,” winning trainer Dale Capuano said. “He just took a while to develop, so we’re pleased. It was a very tough race. We know he’ll run on a softer turf, so we figured we’d take a shot.

“It set up like we hoped it would,” he added. “He was a little further back than I thought. These horses don’t stop. You’ve got to go get them, and he was able to do that so we’re really proud of him.”

Bred, owned and trained by Hall of Fame horseman King Leatherbury, who presented the winner’s trophy, Ben’s Cat won 32 of 63 career races, 26 stakes and more than $2.6 million in purses from 2010 to 2017. A four-time Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, Ben’s Cat died July 18, 2017 of complications from colic surgery.

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
Photo by Maryland Jockey Club

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