By Tom LaMarra
Four MATCH Series divisions have their fourth legs scheduled for August, and the races could determine whether horses will have a chance to qualify for bonus money.
Monmouth Park on Aug. 11 will host its final MATCH event of the season, the $75,000 Incredible Revenge Stakes in the Filly and Mare Sprint–Turf Division. The following day, Laurel Park will offer the $75,000 Polynesian Stakes in the 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt Division.
On Aug. 20, the $100,000 Satin and Lace Stakes in the Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division will be run at Presque Isle Downs & Casino (on the Tapeta surface), and on Aug. 25 the 3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt Division will have its fourth leg with the $100,000 Sal DeBunda President’s Cup at Parx Racing.
Horses must start in three of the five divisional races to qualify for bonus money, which is paid as follows: $25,000 to the owner and $15,000 for first (the most points in a division), $15,000 to the owner and $10,000 to the trainer for second, and $10,000 to the owner and $5,000 to the trainer for third. For the overall points-earning horse in the series, the owner will get $50,000 and the trainer $25,000.
Here’s a look at all five divisions heading into the homestretch of the MATCH Series:
3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt Division
Page McKenney, the current leader with 22 points, has competed in all three division races thus far and will pick up bonus points in the fourth and fifth legs on top of regular points based on finish should he compete. He could prove tough to catch.
Name Changer, who won the Monmouth Cup, would qualify for bonus money should he start in the last two division races: the DeBunda President’s Cup at Parx Racing and the $200,000 Presque Isle Mile on Sept. 16. If he were to win both races, the most points he could have is 30.
If Page McKenney also races in the last two races, he would collect 12 bonus points (5 for the President’s Cup and 7 for the Presque Isle Mile) and a minimum of two points–for a sixth or worse finish–for a total of 36 points.
Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division
Through three legs, no horse has three starts in the division, so the Satin and Lace Stakes will be a pivotal race. Dashing Beauty Stakes winner Jessica Krupnick, who currently leads the division with 17 points, has been pointed to the Satin and Lace and would qualify for bonus money should she start.
As for the other two winners of division races, Vertical Oak most recently finished second in the grade II Honorable Miss Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, and Chalon hasn’t raced since her win in the Regret Stakes at Monmouth Park. Both would need to start in the Satin and Lace and the Roamin Rachel Stakes at Parx Sept. 15 to qualify for bonus money.
Liz’s Cable Girl and Startwithsilver each have eight points and have competed in two division events, so a start in either of the last two would qualify them for bonus money.
3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf Division
Like Page McKenney, stablemate Oak Bluffs hasn’t missed a MATCH Series start and after four races has 22 points. A start in the final leg, the Laurel Dash Stakes Sept. 15, would give him a minimum of eight points for a total of 30, but that could increase to 39 with a win.
Pool Winner, who has 19 points, qualified for bonus money in the recent Wolf Hill Stakes and now qualifies for bonus points if he races in the Laurel Dash. With a win he would collect 15 points for a total of 34.
Imprimis, the only horse in the division with two victories, needs one more start to qualify for bonus money but the most points he could have at the end of the series is 30. Dubini, who has started three times and has 12 points, could end the series with a maximum of 27 points should he win the Laurel Dash.
Filly and Mare Sprint–Turf Division
This one is up in the air heading into the Incredible Revenge Stakes. There have been three different winners so far, but only one of them, Smiling Causeway, will qualify for bonus money should she race at Monmouth.
Smiling Causeway has 12 points; she wasn’t nominated to the Incredible Revenge, but supplemental nominations are accepted. She needs one more MATCH Series start with two races left to qualify for divisional bonus money; the final leg is the $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash at Laurel Park Sept. 15.
Three have 10 points–Girls Know Best (nominated to the Incredible Revenge) and Morticia, who won their only MATCH Series starts but haven’t returned to series competition, and Pretty Perfection, who has raced in two legs but wasn’t nominated to the Incredible Revenge.
Jessica Krupnick, Liz’s Cable Girl and Startwithsilver are all nominated to the Incredible Revenge, but if they race and earn points, they won’t count toward the Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division, in which each of them have two starts. Points earned in different divisions or by different horses cannot be combined for year-end totals for owner or trainer bonus money.
Two from the Turf Amazon at Parx–Blue Bahia, who was second, and Goldwood, who finished third–are nominated to the Incredible Revenge. If they run at Monmouth and return for the Sensible Lady Turf Dash, they would qualify for bonus awards and, depending on finish, could factor in bonus payouts.
3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt Division
The Polynesian Stakes at Laurel Aug. 12 should provide this division with more clarity; seven horses with at least one start in the division are nominated.
Division leader Lewisfield, with 12 points, needs one more start to qualify for bonus money. He took a pass on a sprint stakes at Mountaineer Aug. 4 and most likely would use the Polynesian as a springboard to the grade III De Francis Dash, final leg of the division Sept. 15 at Laurel.
Laurel-based Laki, who competed in the first three races in the division and has eight points, is now eligible for bonus points in his own back yard. It’s the Journey, also based at Laurel, has five points after two starts but is in a position to pick up more.
Chublicious, who won the Mr. Prospector Stakes at Monmouth and then finished off the board in the Hockessin Stakes at Delaware Park, has 11 points. He wasn’t nominated to the Polynesian but last year won the De Francis.
Always Sunshine, nominated to the Polynesian, won the Hockessin and has 10 points. He would need to start in the Polynesian and De Francis to qualify for bonus money.