Howard Bender, who with his late wife, Sondra, operated one of Maryland’s most successful and largest racing stables, passed away Monday, Sept. 28, at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He was 84.
“It was a little bit of a shock,” said Larry Murray, Bender’s trainer for nearly three decades and the manager of Bender’s farm, Glade Valley, near Frederick. “But it’s hard to have too many regrets. He had a long and great life and touched an awful lot of people.”
Bender and his late wife had been active in the breeding and racing business in Maryland since 1983 and were honored by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association in 2001, 2002 and 2003 as Maryland Breeders of the Year. Howard was honored again in 2014, and on Sept. 11 of this year received the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s award, which honors the achievements of thoroughbred breeders in 23 states and Canada, and owners in the four major North American racing regions.
In 2014, Bender bred stakes winners Bear Access, winner of the Maryland Million Ladies Stakes; More Than A Cruise, winner of the Conniver Stakes; and Ghost Bay, named 2-year-old Maryland-bred champion male after winning the Maryland Juvenile Futurity. Horses bred in Bender’s name and/or in partnership with his late wife made 154 starts in 2014, won 25 races with 19 seconds and 20 thirds, for earnings of $818,565.
Over the years, The Benders won more than 500 races and more than $14 million in purses. They had two horses in Triple Crown races: Southern Appeal in the 1986 Kentucky Derby, who finished 13th, and Foufa’s Warrior, who was seventh in the 2003 Preakness Stakes.
The Benders’ horses also had wonderful success in the Maryland Million. Their most successful homebred was La Reine’s Terms, who won 11 stakes including five in 2002 on five different turf courses. La Reine’s Terms retired with $804,591 in earnings after winning the 2005 Maryland Million Turf.
Despite Bender’s being successful for decades, this year has not been going nearly so well, Murray said.
“We’ve been having our worst year ever,” he said. “There are a couple in the barn who are promising, but Mr. Bender won’t be here to see them run.”
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