06/06/2003 12:00AM

2002 a banner year for the Benders

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Some of the more accomplished individuals in all of racing will step up to receive awards at the Maryland Horse Breeders Association's annual ceremony June 20 in the Carriage Room at Laurel Park.

Along with the previously announced 2002 Maryland-bred champions, the MHBA will honor Sondra and Howard Bender, breeders of the year; Shiner, broodmare of the year; and Not for Love, who stands at Northview Stallion Station, stallion of the year.

An avalanche of 2002 stakes wins earned the Benders their title for a second consecutive season. Bender-bred runners racked up stakes victories at the rate of more than one a month. At season's end, they had nine stakes winners, seven of them racing for the Benders and their private trainer, Larry Murray, and 13 stakes wins.

Top performers last year from the Benders' Glade Valley Farms in Frederick, Md., where Murray serves as manager, ran the gamut in age, from 7-year-old grass hero La Reine's Terms to 2-year-old star Foufa's Warrior, and included one who starred in graded company, Secret River.

La Reine's Terms led the way with five stakes wins, including victories in the Maryland Million Turf and NTRA Great State Challenge Turf.

Other Bender-bred stakes winners were Boca Flyer, Buenos Dias, Certantee, Cruise Along, Full Brush, and He's a Knockout.

The Benders, who maintain about 20 broodmares, were represented as breeders in 2002 by horses who made 294 starts and registered 55 wins, 42 seconds, and 45 thirds, for earnings of $1,900,256.

Actively involved in the business since the mid-1980's, the Benders still are newcomers in comparison to Allaire duPont, who will receive the award for her third-generation producer Shiner. DuPont has been breeding top-quality runners at her Woodstock Farm in Chesapeake City, Md., since the 1950's, and in the 1960's campaigned five-time horse of the year Kelso.

Shiner (Two Punch-Mari Her, by Maribeau), a foal of 1990, carries on the legacy as the dam of two of the nation's top-performing fillies and mares of 2002: Shine Again (1997, by Wild Again), winner of the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap the last two year and Grade 2 First Flight Handicap, and her year-younger half-sister Shiny Band (by Dixieland Band), who captured the Grade 2 Shuvee Handicap.

Maryland's champion older female in 2001 and 2002, Shine Again became a millionaire in her first outing this season.

Shiner produced those two standouts as her only foals so far to race. Barren for 2000 and 2001 after producing a 1999 Wild Again filly, she has a yearling colt by Forest Wildcat and this year produced a colt by Belong to Me. She is in foal for 2004 to Forest Wildcat.

Not for Love earned his stallion of the year award with a similarly impressive list of achievements. A 13-year-old son of Mr. Prospector-Dance Number, by Northern Dancer, Not for Love ranked as the state's leading sire of stakes winners in 2002, as well as the top juvenile sire.

From four crops of racing age, Not for Love was represented last season by 11 stakes winners, including graded winners Duckhorn and Sheila's Prospect. Two of his daughters were statebred 2-year-old filly champions: Coquettish in Maryland and Forever Partners in New Jersey.

His other stakes winners were Blinded by Love, For Rubies, Maddie's May, Shopping for Love, Such a Flirt, Summer Swing, and Tori's Thunder.

Not for Love topped the state's juvenile sires list in all categories, with 18 of his 2-year-olds winning a total of 25 races and compiling earnings of $666,932.

The MHBA's awards dinner, to begin at 6 p.m., will be preceded by the annual general membership meeting, which is set for 5 p.m. For more information call (410) 252-2100.