03/17/2013 7:23PM

Santa Anita: Bench Glory's effort in Irish O'Brien makes decision to keep racing look good

Benoit & Associates
The 6-year-old mare Bench Glory carries Brice Blanc to a 15-1 upset in the Irish O'Brien.

ARCADIA, Calif. – At the beginning of the year, a decision had to be made with Bench Glory, whether to keep her in training, or, at age 6, retire her for breeding. She was kept in training, and in her first start in 50 weeks on Sunday at Santa Anita ran the race of her life, closing stoutly for a 15-1 upset in the $100,750 Irish O’Brien Stakes for California-bred female turf sprinters.

Bench Glory ($32.40) gave trainer Sean McCarthy the first stakes win of his career at Santa Anita. She ran down 2-1 favorite Ismene in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by 1 1/4 lengths, with Dancingtothestars another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

Quizzical was fourth and was followed, in order, by Secret Cove, Curvy Cat, and Miss Well Molded.

Miss Becca suffered a catastrophic injury to her right front fetlock a quarter-mile into the downhill turf sprint. She had to be euthanized, stewards reported.

Bench Glory completed the about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:12.02. She has finished in the money in all four of her starts on this course, including two victories. Sunday’s win was the fourth in 10 starts for Bench Glory, and her first in a stakes race. Brice Blanc, who has ridden her throughout her career, was aboard.

“It was either this or a high-claiming spot, because she was out of allowance conditions,” McCarthy said. “I liked the way she was training.”

McCarthy said there wasn’t anything major wrong with Bench Glory when she went to the sidelines last year, just “aches and pains, a little wear and tear.”

John Harris, who bred and owns Bench Glory – a daughter of Benchmark – said he was hoping for second or third, just to get some black type in a catalog page, and was rewarded with a win instead

McCarthy gave credit to Per Antonsen, the trainer at Harris’s farm in central California, with doing the early training on Bench Glory during her comeback.

“He did a great job,” McCarthy said.