02/12/2011 10:46AM

Bench Points may be headed to San Felipe following sprint win

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Benoit & Associates
Bench Points may try a two-turn stakes in his next start.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Perfect after four starts in sprints, including a sharp win in an optional claimer on Friday, Bench Points is through with one-turn races for the rest of the winter.

Bench Points won his first start since September in a six-furlong optional claimer on Friday, closing from last in a field of four to beat Da Ruler, the 3-10 favorite. The victory led trainer Tim Yakteen to mention the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on March 12 for Bench Points’s next start. The San Felipe Stakes is a key prep for the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 9.

“I’m optimistic that he can go two turns,” Yakteen said.

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Owned by a partnership, Bench Points has won at distances ranging from five to six furlongs. In Friday’s race, he was last behind a quick pace of 21.97 and 43.97 seconds, trailing by approximately two lengths. Jockey Alonso Quinonez guided Bench Points to the outside in early stretch and got a response in the final furlong. Bench Points was timed in 1:08.22, beating Da Ruler by 1 1/4 lengths.
The win surprised Yakteen, who feared that Da Ruler would be tough to beat.

“We wanted a good race out of him,” Yakteen said of Bench Points. “Winning is an added bonus.”

Bench Points, who has earned $188,280, was the champion 2-year-old California-bred male of 2010. Last summer, Bench Points won the Graduation Stakes and I’m Smokin Stakes for statebreds sprinters, but underwent surgery after the latter race to have a bone chip removed from a knee.

In Friday’s fourth race, Drink At Buster’s won an allowance race for 3-year-old statebreds by 3 1/2 lengths, closing from fifth in a field of seven.

Drink At Buster’s ($4.60) ran seven furlongs under jockey Garrett Gomez in a quick 1:21.42, and will be considered for a two-turn grass stakes in coming weeks, according to owner David La Croix, a former trainer.

Marty Jones, Drink At Buster’s current trainer, was left delighted by Friday’s race. “It was very impressive to see that he ran that way,” Jones said.

Astrology has second work of the year

Astrology, the winner of the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs last October as a 2-year-old, worked a half-mile in 51.20 seconds Friday, his second workout of the year.

“He’s capable of more,” Asmussen said. “I want him to come back easily.”

Trainer Steve Asmussen said no plans have been finalized for Astrology, pending a conversation with Jess Jackson, who co-owns the colt with George Bolton. Astrology has not started since finishing second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27.

* Santa Anita hornblower Jay Cohen will miss the final two weeks of February to have a bone removed from his neck, he told publicity officials on Friday. Cohen, 54, a familiar figure at Fairplex Park, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita in his top hat and red tails, said this will be his third neck surgery. “It’s just bad luck,” he said. “It wasn’t an accident. It’s just genetic. There’s a lot of arthritis in the family and I just don’t have a good neck, that’s all.”