Posted: June 14, 2022

By Tom LaMarra

Eons and High Opinion both rallied from off the pace to win their respective stakes as part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships Series (MATCH) June 14 at Parx Racing.

The pair of $100,000 stakes–the Bensalem (3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Turf division) and the Neshaminy (Filly and Mare Long–Turf division) kicked off the second leg of the 2022 series. The two dirt stakes will be held the evening of June 17 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

A heavy line of storms moved through the Philadelphia area at about 8 a.m. June 14 but spared Parx, which only received a light rain shower. That allowed the two stakes to stay on the turf course, which was rated good.

Mark Grier’s Eons, a 6-year-old Giant’s Causeway horse trained by Arnaud Delacour at Fair Hill, was reunited with jockey Trevor McCarthy and it produced good results. McCarthy, in from New York, was aboard Eons when he won the Grade III Kent Stakes at Delaware Park in 2019, and the pair captured the 1 1/16-mile Bensalem by going last to first in an eight-horse field.

Eons held a short lead in the stretch with favored Beacon Hill closing in and battled back to finish a nose in front in 1:42.71 for the distance. King Cause finished third, another 2 1/4 lengths behind Beacon Hill. Eons, who last won in July 2021, returned $20.20 to win.

“He’s kind of a one-paced horse, but once he got his stride going–he was finding more,” McCarthy said. “It was a great finish. The horse hadn’t won in a long time but we have a history. I won a grade III with him.”

Eons won for the sixth time in 21 starts. Delacour said the horse had a “great trip” because the early fractions were quick on the good course, and if the pace is too slow Eons tends to be too close early. “The fast pace completely helped and he was able to put in a good (sustained) run,” he said.

Eons and another Delacour trainee, Chez Pierre, are now tied at the top of the MATCH division, each with 10 points.

In the 1 1/16-mile Neshaminy, High Opinion, a multiple graded stakes-placed 5-year-old mare by Lemon Drop Kid, stalked the early leaders under Flavien Prat, took over in the final sixteenth of a mile and held off a fast-closing Tic Tic Tic Boom, who almost kicked off a riding stakes double for McCarthy.

Owned by Woodford Racing and Team D and trained by Anthony Dutrow, Belmont Park-based High Opinion covered the distance in 1:43.32 and paid $3.80 to win. She was three-quarters of a length ahead of 43-1 Tic Tic Tic Boom, who is trained by Alan Bedard at Parx. Wicked Groove was third.

“She was ready to run a really good race,” said Prat, also in from New York. “I was a little worried about that loose horse (B B’s Busted, who was impeded and lost her rider heading into the first turn) getting to the front and cutting us off, but that didn’t happen.”

High Opinion picked up 10 points in her first MATCH Series appearance but Deciding Vote, who won the first leg and finished fourth in the Neshaminy, still leads the division with 13 points after two legs.