Sondra Bender, a prominent Maryland breeder/owner, died Feb. 23 after a battle with uterine cancer. A resident of Bethesda, Md., she was 78.
Her survivors include her husband, Howard, who operates Glade Valley Farm near Frederick, Md.
“I considered her the first lady of Maryland racing,” said Larry Murray, who started training for the Benders in 1988 and is the farm manager at Glade Valley. “She enjoyed the game and was very classy. She took the bad just as well as the good. They enjoyed it together. It was very rare to see them apart. I hope Mr. Bender can find some solace in the races without her.”
The Benders owned two horses that competed in Triple Crown races; Southern Appeal finished 13th in the 1986 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Foufa’s Warrior was seventh in the 2003 Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Bender enjoyed great success in the Maryland Million. She is tied atop the owner rankings with five victories and has bred four winners.
La Reine’s Terms had two of those Maryland Million scores and was the stable’s most successful runner. Bred by the Benders, the son of Private Terms won 11 stakes including five in 2002 on five different turf courses. La Reine’s Terms retired with $804,591 in earnings after a score in the 2005 Maryland Million Turf.
“I am thinking about all the good times we had,” said Murray, who has won 488 races for more than $14 million for the family. “We had some horses that took us a lot of places and gave us a lot of thrills. She will be sorely missed, and I have great memories of her. I will cherish those.”
The 2002 season was Bender’s best when she captured 13 stakes with seven different horses and finished 53rd on the North American money list with $1.3 million. She bred nine stakes winners that year including seven who competed in her familiar gold and black colors.
Bender and Murray combined to win seven stakes at Pimlico and Laurel in 2003 and bred six stakes winners including five that ran in the Bender colors.
A memorial service will be held at Beth El Synagogue in Bethesda at 10 a.m. EST Feb. 24.