05/16/2011 9:19AM

Hollywood: Bench Points to hit road after Laz Barrera victory

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BENOIT PHOTO
Bench Points may target the Carry Back at Calder after his win on Sunday in the Laz Barrera at Hollywood.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Bench Points is likely to make his next start outside of California after extending his unbeaten streak in one-turn races to five in Sunday’s $100,000 Laz Barrera Stakes.

Trainer Tim Yakteen said he intends to keep Bench Points around one turn and racing within the 3-year-old division. In the short term, that could result in a start in a race such as the $200,000 Carry Back Stakes over six furlongs at Calder on July 9.

One long-term possibility is the $100,000 Real Good Deal Stakes over seven furlongs for statebred 3-year-olds at Del Mar on Aug. 4, a race in which Bench Points would be a strong favorite. Bench Points won two statebred stakes for 2-year-olds at Del Mar last summer, and was later named the statebred champion 2-year-old male of 2010.

This year, Bench Points has proven to be more, finishing third in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, seventh in the Santa Anita Derby and winning the Laz Barrera. Bench Points, by Benchmark, has won 5 of 7 starts and $308,280.

While Bench Points did not proceed to the Triple Crown, Yakteen is confident that the gelding can be a factor in graded stakes for sprinters this spring and summer – as long as he stays with 3-year-olds.

“It’s tough to take on the older horses,” he said after Sunday’s win. “It’s an intimidating step when you’re doing really well against the age group. You want to give him every chance to mature.”

At the same time, Yakteen is taking his naturally cautious approach. Asked about a potential start in the $250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes for 3-year-olds over seven furlongs at Belmont Park on June 11, Yakteen rejected the idea. The race could draw The Factor, who set a six-furlong track record at Santa Anita last winter.

Said Yakteen, “We want to avoid The Factor at this point.”