11/15/2002 1:00AM

Statebreds to accept the Challenge


Trainer Larry Murray has been checking airline flight schedules and studying road maps during the past several days, as he moves towards an unprecedented challenge. That is the Great State Challenge, scheduled for Dec. 7 at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.

Murray is the private trainer for Howard and Sondra Bender, longtime Maryland breeders whose horses have been winning stakes at an awesome clip this season. Three Bender horses are on the list of horses selected to represent Maryland in the six races of the Challenge. Each race will be worth up to $275,000 in purse money.

The strongest Maryland-bred candidate in the event may be La Reine's Terms, the Benders' 7-year-old war horse who won the Maryland Million Turf on Sept. 21 at Pimlico for his fifth consecutive stakes victory, all on turf. La Reine's Terms subsequently finished sixth, beaten only 2 1/4 lengths by the winner, Kimberlite Pipe, in the Grade 3 Richard F. Carey Memorial at Hawthorne.

The number-one selection from each participating state is guaranteed a starting berth, and La Reine's Terms holds that distinction in the Great State Challenge Turf.

"The opportunity to run on the grass in December, and for that kind of money, makes it very tempting," Murray said. "But I can't say for certain that we're going until I see the list of other horses."

Buenos Dias, another Bender-owned horse, was Maryland's second choice in the same race.

Maryland-breds selected for the remaining Challenge races were:

Juvenile Fillies: (1) Mark Aim Fire, owned by Kennard Warfield, trained by Kevin Boniface; (2) Perfect Blue, owned by Mason Dixon Racing, trained by Roger Werneth.

Juvenile: (1) Cherokee's Boy, owned by Z W P Stables, trained by Gary Capuano; (2) Bridge Out Again, owned and trained by Richard Small.

Sprint: (1) Deer Run, owned by William R. Harris, trained by Christopher W. Grove; (2) In C C's Honor, owned by Dennis Drazin, trained by Jason Servis.

Distaff: Winter Leaf, owned by North Highland Farm, trained by Ronald Cartwright.

Classic: (1) Pickupspeed, owned by Howard and Sondra Bender, trained by Larry Murray; (2) Hay Getoutofmyway, owned by Larry Knight Sr., trained by Francis P. Campitelli.

Polish Miner to stand at Northview

Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, Md., has expanded its 2003 stallion roster to a dozen with the acquisition of Polish Miner, a son of Danzig who will stand for $3,500 live foal.

Polish Miner, a multiple graded stakes-placed earner of $319,146, is cast in the mold of successful Northview stallions Not for Love and Polish Numbers. Like Not for Love and Polish Numbers, he was bred and raced by the Phipps family and comes from bloodlines developed by the Phippses over several decades. Polish Miner's dam, Miner's Game (by Mr. Prospector), is a full sister to the multiple Grade 1 winner and nationally ranked sire Seeking the Gold, and a half-sister to graded winners Fast Play and Stacked Pack.

"We've been after Polish Miner for a while," said Richard Golden, managing partner of Northview. "And we are delighted that the Phippses decided to sell him to us. There is no downside to this horse - he is an excellent race horse, from a wonderful family."

A foal of 1997, Polish Miner won or placed in 16 of 28 career starts, racing through this fall. He was stakes-placed at 2 in both the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes and the Grade 2 Remsen, which were both run at 1 1/8 miles. At 3, he finished third in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Handicap at 1 1/8 miles. Earlier this year, he finished second in the 1 1/8-mile John D. Schapiro Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap.