Posted: April 14, 2022

By Tom LaMarra

The well-traveled Sir Alfred James, graded stakes-placed War Tocsin and recent $50,000 claim Borracho are among eight horses entered for the $100,000 Frank Y. Whiteley Stakes, the first race of the 2022 Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) Series April 16 at Laurel Park. This year marks the ninth edition of MATCH, which was held for five years from 1997-2001 and returned to the regional calendar in 2018.

The seven-furlong Whiteley (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt division) is one of four stakes, but the only MATCH Series event, on the Saturday program at Laurel. Three MATCH stakes are scheduled for April 23 at Laurel to round out the first leg of competition in four divisions; the others are Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt, 3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Turf, and Filly and Mare Long–Turf.

Sir Alfred James, owned by Built Wright Stables and trained by Norman Cash, is stabled at Laurel and has been pointed to the MATCH Series. A winner of seven of 23 starts for earnings in excess of $558,000, Sir Alfred James has raced at seven different tracks in his last 10 starts dating back to early November.

The 6-year-old Munnings gelding finished a troubled third in the Grade III General George Stakes at Laurel in February, and most recently prepped for the Whiteley with a victory in an open allowance sprint at Parx Racing in late March. Kentucky-based John McKee, his regular rider, will be aboard in the Whiteley.

War Tocsin, owned by Trin-Brook Stables and trained by Uriah St. Lewis at Parx, finished a close second behind Cordmaker in the seven-furlong General George in his most recent start. The 6-year-old gelding by Violence has won only three times in 38 starts but has been first, second or third 37% of the time.

St. Lewis, who in 2021 picked up MATCH Series bonus money in one division, had entered War Tocsin in the Grade I Carter Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack April 9 but scratched and opted to race him at Laurel, where he has a pair of seconds in three starts. Dexter Haddock will be in from Parx for the mount.

Borracho, who was stabled at Laurel with trainer Mike Gorham but now is at Delaware Park, will return to Maryland for the Whiteley. The 6-year-old Uncle Mo gelding was claimed by Steeplechase Farm for $50,000 from a winning effort in February at Laurel, and returned in early March to win an allowance/optional claiming sprint–he was not in for the tag–for Gorham.

“He has been great since we got him,” Gorham said. “He ran a huge race for us when he ran back. He trains like a good horse, seems like a good horse, and ran like a good horse. Every option is open for him going forward.”

Borracho, who finished third in the Grade I Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park in 2019, has raced 30 times and is closing in on $400,000 in earnings. Jaime Rodriguez, one of the leading riders at Laurel who rode Borracho in his last three starts, is named again.

Disco Pharoah, a 4-year-old gelding by American Pharoah, was supplemented to the Whiteley by owners Perrine Time Thoroughbreds and Blue Lion Thoroughbreds. He broke his maiden by almost 20 lengths at Aqueduct in early March in his third start and has been working regularly at Belmont for trainer Raymond Handal. Jevian Toledo, Maryland’s Jockey of the Year for 2021, has the call.

After the April 23 stakes at Laurel, the MATCH Series will move to Parx on Tuesday, June 14, for the two turf events and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course on Friday, June 17, for the two dirt sprints. For the remainder of the series, all four divisions will be represented on one day: Saturday, July 16, at Laurel; Tuesday, Aug. 16, at Colonial Downs; and Monday, Oct. 3, at Parx for the championships.