The powers-that-be at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame have finally recognized what Marylanders have known for a long time: King T. Leatherbury is nothing short of a true Hall of Famer.
On August 7, the 82-year-old flat track trainer, with his to-date 6,000 victories, took the podium at the Fasig-Tipton Sale Pavilion in Saratoga, New York, to be officially inducted into racing’s most prestigious museum. “This really is a tremendous award. I’m deeply honored and proud to be here,” he said. Only five other trainers have achieved 6,000 wins — an Leatherbury is not done yet! Adding to his reputation as a force with which to be reckoned, he received this honor the first time out of the gate, i.e. the first time he was listed on the ballot.
Although his father was a Thoroughbred breeder and owner, Leatherbury did not get hooked on racing until he was a business student at the University of Maryland and would head out to Laurel or Bowie race tracks. He told the Washington Post, “I wasn’t a lover of horses per se. I was a lover of the game.”
Leatherbury has not built his record by winning glamorous Triple Crowns or high profile stakes races. His is a workmanlike career, one victory at a time with claiming races. Because the claimers lacked the prestige of the stakes races, Leatherbury was able to build a successful stable with a strategic business plan that took full advantage of claiming races, and built canny alliances with the likes of future Hall of Famer Bud Delp. With no plans of retiring anytime soon, Leatherbury’s main charge these days is the nine-year-old Ben’s Cat who has won 29 races so far, 24 of them stakes races. Ben’s Cat has earned more than $2.4 million in purses.For more on the Hall of Fame ceremony, check out these articles: