09/04/2010 2:15PM

Bench Points looks to double up in I'm Smokin

Email

DEL MAR, Calif. – Bench Points won the $100,000 Graduation Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 4, thanks in part to an excellent ride from jockey Rafael Bejarano.

It was Bejarano who guided Bench Points between horses in early stretch and went on to win by 2 3/4 lengths, earning the admiration of trainer Tim Yakteen. On Monday, Yakteen and Bejarano team together again when Bench Points starts in the $100,000 I’m Smokin Stakes for statebred 2-year-olds over six furlongs.

Yakteen is leaving race strategy to Bejarano, specifically how close to keep Bench Points to the lead.

“He’ll have to make the call when the gates open,” he said of Bejarano. “I’d like to see a clean trip. There are 11 horses in the race. Some of those races can be tough.”

Owned by a partnership, Bench Points is unbeaten in two starts and is the only stakes winner in the I’m Smokin field. Joy Boy, second in the Graduation, is a threat to Bench Points and may challenge for the lead.

Yakteen and the partnership that owns Bench Points briefly considered a start in Wednesday’s $250,000 Del Mar Futurity but have opted to pass a meeting with division leader J P’s Gusto for the comfort of the statebred division.

“We had the Futurity as an option,” he said. “You have to respect a horse like J P’s Gusto. The lead up to the race has been uneventful.”

Bench Points is the only unbeaten runner in the I’m Smokin field. Lucky Mr. K won his debut by 4 1/2 lengths at Hollywood Park on June 23 but has lost his last two starts – finishing a troubled second in the Everett Nevin Stakes at Pleasanton on July 10 and eighth after a wide trip in the Graduation Stakes.

Trained by Jeff Bonde, Lucky Mr. K worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds Thursday, the fastest of 30 recorded works at the distance.