Posted: Nov. 27, 2021

By Tom LaMarra

Hillwood Stable’s Cordmaker, a mainstay in the Maryland stakes ranks for several years, pulled away late to win the $100,000 Richard Small Stakes at Laurel Park Nov. 27 and in the process took the lead in the overall standings for the 2021 Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) Series heading into the championship leg Dec. 26 at Laurel.

With regular rider Victor Carrasco aboard, Cordmaker broke well in the 1 1/8-mile stakes and found himself in a good spot in third behind Workin On a Dream and Shackqueenking, who raced one-two, respectively, until a duel developed on the far turn. Cordmaker, nursed along by Carassco, rallied three-wide on the turn, reached the front in the final eighth of a mile and pulled away to win by 1 3/4 lengths for his third stakes victory of the year.

Workin On a Dream, a blowout winner of an allowance race at Laurel in his last start for owner Steven Walfish and trainer Robin Graham, held gamely for second under jockey Forest Boyce. Shackqueenking, who had won his last two starts in allowance company at Delaware Park for owner Pocket 3’s Racing and trainer Gary Capuano, easily held for third under Jaime Rodriguez as the favorite.

Cordmaker, who cleared the $700,000 mark in career earnings with his 11th win in 33 starts, paid $12.40 to win as the fourth choice in a field of 10. The 6-year-old Maryland-bred gelding by Curlin was bred by Robert Manfuso and Katy Voss and purchased as a yearling for $150,000 by Hillwood Stable, which is operated by longtime Maryland Thoroughbred owner Ellen Charles.

“I wanted him to stay close early,” trainer Rodney Jenkins said after Cordmaker won his second MATCH Series stakes in the 3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt division in 2021. “I didn’t want him to have a lot of ground to make up. I told Victor, ‘Keep him up there and make them run.’ This is a great result for the horse, the barn and Mrs. Charles.”

Cordmaker, who has started in all five legs thus far in his division, won the Victory Gallop Stakes at Colonial Downs in August. He returned in the Polynesian Stakes at Laurel in September and crossed the finish line in second but was disqualified and placed sixth for drifting out near the three-sixteenths pole. Despite the setback, he picked up 5 MATCH bonus points in the Polynesian and padded his division lead.

“He broke well and we had a great trip,” Carrasco said. “I followed (Shackqueenking) because I thought he was the only horse who could beat us. As soon as we passed the five-sixteenths pole I said, ‘Go,’ and he responded nicely. He got the job done.”

Cordmaker entered the Richard Small with 24 points. He earned 10 points for the victory and another 2 bonus points for making his fifth start in the division. That gives him 36 points, nine more than Hello Beautiful, who leads the Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt division with 27 points.

The division winners and the overall champion will decided at Laurel the day after Christmas, when the final stakes for each of the MATCH Series’ four divisions will be run.

(Photo by Jerry D.)