By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WZ)– Eleven may seem young to retire. But not when you’re a race horse and not when you’ve won more than $2.6 million in your career.

Ben’s Cat, otherwise known as ‘the Pride of Maryland’ or ‘the Beast of the East,’ was loaded onto a trailer at Laurel Race Track, and headed for the green pastures of Kentucky.

His retirement is the talk of the racing world and it’s bittersweet for those who’ve cared for him all his life.

Ben’s Cat has been named Maryland horse of the year four times, won 17 championships, and won more than half of his 63 starts since 2010.

For seven years Fern Augusta has been Ben’s groom. While she’s never watched him race, she’s been with him every other moment of his life.

Tuesday she learned he’s being retired.

“He’s like my child,” Augusta said.

Avon Thorpe has been Ben’s assistant trainer. When Ben was just four, Avon spotted a champ.

“Every horse we put him aside he blew em away. He won big races, short races, dirt races. He did it all,” Thorpe said.

Hall of famer King Leatherbury bred and trained Ben. He made the decision Tuesday, at the age of 11, it’s time for Ben to retire.

“The king, he know what he doing. He ain’t called the king for nothing,” Thorpe said.

Maryland born, bred and trained, Ben leaves a legacy of winning.

Ben is a gelding so there will be no blood-line. He’s literally going out to pasture. Not a bad way for a horse to spend his golden years.

A woman who comes to the Preakness every year and has always admired Ben’s Cat, more than once offered her retirement farm.

Tuesday, Leatherbury decided it was time to accept.

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