08/18/2004 11:00PM

Murray looks to shake slump


In 2002, owner Sondra Bender and trainer Larry Murray were an extremely potent combination, winning 13 of 43 races and $927,243.

Although Bender and Murray are still a team, their current numbers have sagged badly. So far in 2004, they are 0 for 11.

Murray, whose horses exceeded $1 million in earnings in both 2002 and 2003, is just 4 for 68 overall, his worst season since he went 1 for 29 in 1988.

Bender and Murray will try to turn back the clock with 9-year-old La Reine's Terms, who continues his comeback after an absence of 18 months in Saturday's $75,000 Find Handicap at Pimlico. The 1 1/8-mile turf race, restricted to Maryland-breds, drew a field of 10 older horses plus four also-eligibles.

La Reine's Terms won five stakes - including the Find for the second straight year - in 2002. After capturing the Great State Challenge at Sam Houston in December, he missed all of 2003.

"We gave him the winter off, as we always do," Murray said. "When we tried to bring him back he wasn't himself and I thought he was done. He has a lot of minor ailments and I thought they were ganging up on him, so I sent him home. But he's come around again."

La Reine's Terms reappeared this June, when he won an allowance at Colonial Downs. He may be primed for a peak effort in the third start of his comeback over a course where he is 5 for 7 lifetime.

La Reine's Terms is coupled with Foufa's Warrior. Foufa's Warrior has lost seven in a row since winning last year's Grade 3 Kent Breeders' Cup. "I'm seriously thinking of starting both of them if the race stays on the turf," Murray said.

The main threat to Murray's entry is Move Those Chains, third in last year's Find and winner of the 2003 Maryland Million Turf at Laurel.