Posted: Nov. 26, 2021

By Tom LaMarra

Cordmaker continues quest for MATCH Series championship

Hillwood Stables’ Cordmaker, the leader of his Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) Series division and not without a chance to land the overall championship, is one of 11 horses entered in the $100,000 Richard Small Stakes Saturday, Nov. 27, at Laurel Park.

The 1 1/8-mile Richard Small is the fifth of sixth legs in the 3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt division. The final stakes in the division, the $100,000 Native Dancer at 1 1/16 miles, is set for Dec. 26 at Laurel.

Cordmaker, trained by Rodney Jenkins, is a 10-time winner, and multiple stakes winner, who is approaching $700,000 in career earnings. He has started in all five MATCH division stakes this year and has been following his normal work pattern since his last start in the one-mile Polynesian Stakes at Laurel Sept. 18.

Though Cordmaker crossed the finish line in second, the 6-year-old Maryland-bred gelding by Curlin was disqualified and placed sixth for drifting out at the three-sixteenths pole. It was the first time in seven 2021 starts that he officially finished worse than fourth.

Based at Laurel, Cordmaker has amassed 24 MATCH Series points including 5 bonus points for making his fourth start in the division last time out and will pick up another 2 bonus points with a start in the Richard Small. Regular rider Victor Carrasco is named again.

“He’s going into (the race) real well,” Jenkins said. “He’s very sharp. When the weather turned cool, he got cool. He likes it. We’re going for the MATCH (title). He’s ahead right now for the males.”

McElmore Avenue, owned by trainer Mary Eppler and RAM Racing Stable, will make his third divisional start in the Richard Small and will qualify for MATCH Series bonus money. Horacio Karamanos returns aboard the 4-year-old Maryland-bred gelding by El Padrino who finished second to Cordmaker in the Victory Gallop Stakes at Colonial Downs and fourth in the Polynesian.

McElmore Avenue is one of a handful of horses who would qualify for bonus money. He currently has 10 points, one less than Harpers First Ride, but that runner has been on the sidelines for months and isn’t expected to compete in the Dec. 26 finale.

Park-based trainer Uriah. St. Lewis has entered a pair in the Richard Small: Forewarned and Informative, both owned by Train-Brook Stable. Forewarned, a 6-year-old Ohio-bred horse by Flat Out, won the 1 1/4-mile Ohio Endurance in his last start for his first victory of 2021. Forewarned has started twice in the MATCH Series division and has 3 points; a start in the Richard Small and the Native Dancer would put him in the mix for bonus money.

The overall leader in the 2021 MATCH Series is Hello Beautiful, who has 27 points and three starts in the Filly and Mare Sprint—Dirt division. Trainer Brittany Russell said the 4-year-old Maryland-bred filly by Golden Lad is being pointed to the Dec. 26 finale—a victory plus 5 bonus points for her fourth start would give her a maximum of 42 points; the minimum she could have depending on finish position would be 33 points.

MATCH Series division bonus money is awarded to the owner and trainer as follows: $20,000/$10,000 for first, $15,000/$7,500 for second, and $7,500/$3,000 for third. In addition, the owner and trainer of the overall points-earner regardless of division will receive $20,000 and $10,000, respectively.