Posted: Sept. 10, 2019

By Tom LaMarra

The only two MATCH Series competitors with two wins each in their respective divisions are poised to have a major impact in the Sept. 28 championship round at Monmouth Park, and both have a home field advantage–they’ve been stabled at the New Jersey track all season.

Monmouth will host the last of five series legs on the final Saturday of its 2019 meet. Four divisional stakes, each worth $100,000, will be the centerpiece of the program. And in the spirit of the MATCH Series, participation will be critical in deciding divisional championships and the award of $375,000 in bonus money.

The final round will consist of the Regret Stakes (Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division), Mr. Prospector Stakes (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt Division), Violet Stakes (Filly and Mare Long–Turf Division), and Rainbow Heir Stakes (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf Division). Nominations close Sept. 14 for the Violet and Sept. 21 for the other three events.

The overall MATCH championship should come down to the outcome of the six-furlong Regret, which played a part in Jessica Krupnick’s eventual title as Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division and overall MATCH Series champion in 2018.

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Jim Reichenberg and Cash is King’s Ms Locust Point, trained by John Servis, is the division and overall series leader with 31 points, but two-time winner Bronx Beauty, owned by 2W Racing and trained at Monmouth by Anthony Margotta Jr., is within range with 25 points with her fourth series start approaching in the Regret.

Ms Locust Point, who built her lead with a victory and a pair of second-place finishes in the series, would become one of two horses to run in all five MATCH legs in 2019. The other is Steve and Debbie Jackson’s Last True Love, who sits in third in the division with 12 points after having raced in the four previous legs.

Bronx Beauty, a 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred filly, already has secured a $5,000 bonus from the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association for her breeder, Blackstone Farm, as the top Pennsylvania-bred filly or mare in the MATCH Series.

Ballybrit Stable’s Dynatail, the other two-time MATCH division winner, is atop the Filly and Mare Long–Turf Division with 20 points. She has to start in the 1 1/16-mile Violet in order to qualify for the divisional championship, and after her victory in the Sal DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup Sept. 2 at Parx Racing, trainer Mike Dini indicated that’s the plan. She also is based at Monmouth.

The only division competitor with a chance at catching Dynatail is Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Striking, a Mike Trombetta trainee who has 7 points after three series outings but mathematically could win the division with a win and bonus points for a fourth series start in the Violet–depending on Dynatail’s finish position.

Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ Laki, trained by Damon Dilodovico, is seeking a repeat in the 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt Division and currently leads the division with 18 points after three series starts. A start in the six-furlong Mr. Prospector, in which he finished third last year, would secure him the division title.

Laki, a 6-year-old Maryland-bred gelding, has won a $5,000 bonus for his breeders, Tom Michaels and Lorna Baker, from the Maryland Horse Breeders Association as the top Maryland-bred colt or gelding for the second consecutive year.

Midtowncharlybrown (11 points) and Midnight Charly (8 points), the full brothers owned by Uptowncharlybrown Stud and Godric LLC and trained by Eddie Coletti Jr., are in position to pick up a good chunk of bonus money in the division should they both start in the Mr. Prospector. One of the winners of a combined 15 races and well over $500,000 would also capture a $5,000 bonus for their breeder, Godric, as top Pennsylvania-bred male in the MATCH Series.

The title of champion in the 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf Division is up for grabs in the 5 1/2-furlong Rainbow Heir. The division is led by Stonehedge LLC’s Abiding Star, an Edward Allard trainee who won the Neshaminy Stakes at Parx and has 17 points after two starts in the division.

Robert Bone’s Completed Pass, trained by Claudio Gonzalez, is second with 15 points after three series starts, followed by Matthew Schera and Orangella Racing Stable’s Paret (trained by James Lawrence II), who was second in the Neshaminy and has 12 points after two series starts.

Gold Square’s Square Shooter, a Jeremiah Engelhart-trained gelding with 6 points and two starts, is not out of the running for a major placing depending on the makeup of the Rainbow Heir field; he won an open allowance turf sprint at Laurel Park and then finished fourth in a turf sprint stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

The MATCH Series offers $300,000 in bonus money for owners and trainers based on a top-three finish in each division and another $75,000 for the overall championship. Horses must start in three division events to qualify.

Monmouth Park, a longtime MATCH Series partner, recently announced that parking and admission are free for the remainder of its 2019 meet. Racing is held Saturdays and Sundays through September and on Sundays in October.

(Photo of Abiding Star winning Neshaminy Stakes by Bill Denver/EQUIPHOTO)