Age, however, is an opponent that can't be outrun forever, even though Ben's Cat tried. Now 11, the gelding has trained with as much enthusiasm as ever. But in the heat of a race, the final edge of speed that makes the difference between a winner and an also-ran just wasn't there anymore. For too many old geldings, that begins the spiral down into lower and lower levels of competition until an aging body can finally take no more.
Leatherbury, however, wasn't about to let that happen to a horse who has given him his best so many times. Instead, he made the decision to retire the Cat while he was still healthy and still enjoying the routine he has known for so many years. And so the horse he has known and cared for since his birth (for Leatherbury is breeder and owner as well as trainer), will go to a well-earned retirement in Kentucky, living a life of leisure.
As for Leatherbury, he will still go to the barn every day; he's been doing that since before most of us were born. It's his life, and he will continue leading it as he always has. He still has horses to train and races to win. Nonetheless, there will be a void where Ben's Cat was. You can never replace a horse like that, or the kind of connection that existed between these two old friends.
To the Cat and the King---thanks for the memories.