Since the early 1960’s, King T. Leatherbury has dominated thoroughbred horseracing in his home state of Maryland. Rarely venturing outside of the state, Leatherbury has become a racing legend who is closing in on 6,500 career wins. It was announced in 2015 that Leatherbury would be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and he is still going strong at the age of 83!
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King Leatherbury began his career as a racehorse trainer in the 1959 at Sunshine Park in Florida. He was successful in Florida, but it was his home state that called to him and Leatherbury started carving out his reputation there in 1960. He became a part of a group that were known as the “Big Four” in Maryland racing. The group included John J. Tammaro, Jr., Richard Dutrow, Sr., and Bud Delp. Together, the men dominated thoroughbred racing in Maryland. In their prime, EZ Horse Betting was often as simple as betting one of their horses to win.
Born on a farm in Shady Side, Maryland in 1933, Leatherbury was around horses from a very young age. His father raised them. While it seemed destined that Leatherbury would become a thoroughbred trainer, his career with horses would be put on hold until after he completed a degree in business administration at the University of Maryland. The education served him well. Along with other members of the Big Four, Leatherbury began creating new business models for training horses.
After his very first racing win with Mister L in 1959, King Leatherbury began amassing victories on a large scale. On several occasions, Leatherbury has saddled five winners on a single race card. From 1993-1996, Leatherbury led the standings in Maryland for trainer wins. The horses under his care have captured several important stakes races including the Maryland Million Classic in 1994, the Philip H. Iselin Handicap in 1994, the Federico Tesio Stakes in 2005 and 2006, and the Toboggan Handicap in 2009.
The most successful horse trained by King Leatherbury is arguably Ben’s Cat. The son of Storm Cat, a leading thoroughbred sire, won the Mister Diz Stakes an amazing six times and the Jim McKay Turf Sprint five times. A horse winning the same stakes race in multiple years would be comparable to an NFL football team winning the Super Bowl several times. Ben’s Cat was also owned by Leatherbury. Many assert that Leatherbury’s induction into the Hall of Fame at age 82 is directly attributable to the success of this legendary horse.
The career of King Leatherbury makes for an interesting study by handicappers who want to learn the fine art of EZ Horse Betting. Although he trained horses of considerable talent, Leatherbury has never been a trainer associated with the Triple Crown series or its individual races. This demonstrates an important quality of successful horse trainers. They can honestly evaluate their position in the sport and race where they can win. While some trainers like Bob Baffert place horses in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, other trainers remain on their local circuits where they win thousands of races. These trainers do not often make the headlines of the Daily Racing Form, but they achieve tremendous success.
It pays when handicapping to take note of which trainers are the best on their individual circuits. A good way to do this is to keep a notebook in which you can record the accomplishments of horsemen like King Leatherbury. Then, when you play a track in that circuit, you will have an edge. In many cases, you need look no further than the trainer to pick a winner.
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