Trainer Jonathan Thomas entered the 3-year-old fillies Benbang and Empress Tigress in the Coronation Stakes on Friday at Saratoga and the Blue Sparkler on Saturday at Monmouth Park. On Friday, he scratched Benbang and won the Coronation with Empress Tigress, and on Saturday Thomas won the $100,000 Blue Sparkler with Benbang.
Benbang went straight to the front from post 1 under Albin Jimenez and never was headed. Ahead by a half-length at the stretch call, she ran her final half-furlong in 6.12 seconds and prevailed by one length over Delmona, who had loomed at the three-sixteenths pole. Mac The Pee H D won a tight photo with Insatiable for third. Marissa’s Lady, the 2-1 second choice, never fired in her turf debut and checked in fifth.
“She’s a very naturally fast filly who typically breaks very well,” said Thomas, who trains Benbang for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. “We don’t ever want to take that away from her. So, we thought we would be forward and if they wanted to go with us that was fine, but they would have to work for it early.”
Mystic Eyes, who probably is just as quick as Benbang, was scratched after starting in the Coronation, as was Sweet Solare. Benbang was clocked in 1:02.82 for 5 1/2 furlongs on a firm course and paid $5.20 as the favorite. Bred in Kentucky by Tim Thornton, Benbang is a daughter of Shanghai Bobby and the Street Sense mare, Indian Street. A close fourth in her only previous grass start, Benbang now has a career mark of 6-3-1-0 after adding a stakes win to her resume.