Trainer Leatherbury to be Honored Sunday at Laurel Park

March 25, 2023

King Leatherbury with family and  friends at Laurel Park for the celebration of his 80th Birthday. (Jim McCue/MJC)

Ceremony to Celebrate Legendary Horseman’s 90th Birthday

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

LAUREL, Md. – The Maryland Jockey Club and 1/ST Racing will celebrate Hall of Fame horseman King T. Leatherbury’s 90th birthday with a race and ceremony in his honor Sunday at Laurel Park.

Laurel’s seventh race, a starter optional claimer for fillies and mares 4 and up sprinting seven furlongs, will be named for Leatherbury, who reaches the age milestone Sunday. He will also be presented with a special award by Georganne Hale, vice president of racing development for the MJC.

“It’s an awfully big number that I never got used to saying,” Leatherbury said of turning 90. “What can I do. I got there just by living.”

MJC racing analyst Tim Tullock, a former stakes-winning trainer in Maryland, sat down with Leatherbury to talk about his life and career.

A Maryland native, Leatherbury won his first race in 1959 at Sunland Park, now Tampa Bay Downs. He won six races in a day one and five races in a day four times, registering 300 or more wins from 1975-78 and leading the country in wins in 1977-78.

Leatherbury led all Maryland trainers in wins four straight years from 1993-96, and owns or shares 26 training titles at Laurel Park and historic Pimlico Race Course. He became just the third trainer to reach 6,000 career wins in 2003 at Timonium, and currently ranks fifth overall with 6,508 victories.

The best horse of Leatherbury’s career was Mid-Atlantic legend Ben’s Cat, who he bred, owned and trained to 32 wins, 26 in stakes, and more than $2.6 million in purse earnings over eight seasons from 2010-17. Ben’s Cat passed away in 2017 due to complications from colic surgery and his remains are buried adjacent to Laurel’s historic paddock.

Leatherbury’s beloved Ben’s Cat winning his fifth Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico May 20, 2016, his fourth consecutive victory of the sprint. (Jim McCue/MJC)

Other top horses Leatherbury trained include Grade 1 winners Catatonic and Taking Risks, and graded-stakes winners Ah Day, Thirty Eight Go Go, Learned Jake, Ameri Valay, Dynamic Trick, Thirty Eight Paces, I Am the Game, Do the Bump and Wait for the Lady. Three times Leatherbury claimed and raced Port Conway Lane, who won 52 of 242 starts between 1971 and 1983, running until the age of 14.

In 2015, Leatherbury was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Also, a member of the Anne Arundel County Hall of Fame, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.

Notes: Jockey Horacio Karamanos rode two winners Friday at Laurel, Icy Minister ($3.80) in Race 1 and Trophy Room ($6.40) in Race 3 … Timothy Hopkins’ 8-year-old gelding Hot N Spicy Love ($3) earned his second straight win and 17th overall from 71 career starts in Race 2, a one-mile claimer for 4-year-olds and up. Hot N Spicy Love was claimed for $5,000 by trainer Jose Magana … There will be a carryover of $6,688.11 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 for Saturday’s 10-race card. Tickets with five of six winners Friday returned $378.

@jonathanstettin @Tracking_Trips I am in awer.....9/2!!!It was never even in question! #beyondmembership

Kevin West @KFWest003 View testimonials