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Longtime Maryland horse owner and breeder Sondra Bender dies

Prominent Maryland horse owner and breeder Sondra Bender died Wednesday afternoon after a battle with uterine cancer. She was 78

A resident of Bethesda, Bender and her husband Howard owned Glade Valley Farm in Frederick.

“I considered her the first lady of Maryland racing,” Larry Murray, who has trained for Bender since 1988 and is the farm manager at Glade Valley, said in a news release. “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.”

Bender is tied atop the Maryland Million owner rankings with five victories and has bred four winners.

La Reine’s Terms had two of those Maryland Million wins and was the stable’s most successful runner. The son of Private Terms, who was bred by Bender in 1995, won 11 stakes races 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 at the age of 10, off a year layoff.

The Benders also owned two horses who competed in Triple Crown races. Southern Appeal finished 13th in the 1986 Kentucky Derby, while Foufa’s Warrior was seventh in the 2003 Preakness.

The 2002 season was Sondra Bender’s best, as she captured 13 stakes races 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 races at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park 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. Friday morning.

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