Posted: Aug. 31, 2019
By Tom LaMarra
A battle in the Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division and three other races that will play a role in which horses qualify for bonus money for their owners and trainers headline the MATCH Series as part of a 12-race program at Parx Racing on Labor Day, Sept. 2.
The four MATCH stakes–races 5 through 8–comprise one of three 50-cent Pick 4 wagers on the seven-stakes “Smarty Jones” card that kicks off a big September at the Pennsylvania racetrack. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner who just fell short of winning the Triple Crown in 2004 and retired to a stallion career will be on track Monday to greet racing fans.
First post time at Parx is 12:25 p.m. EDT. There are two Grade III stakes on Labor Day: the $300,000 Smarty Jones, a prep for the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby, and the $300,000 Turf Monster. Pure Sensation, who has won the Turf Monster three times–in 2015, 2017 and 2018–is among the 12 entered in the five-furlong event.
Here is a look at the four MATCH Series events, each worth $100,000, in the order in which they will be run:
Neshaminy Stakes (3 Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf Division)
Robert Bone’s Completed Pass, the division leader with 15 points who already qualified for bonus money given his three starts in the series, wasn’t entered. But two horses who were entered–Stonehedge LLC’s Abiding Star and Matthew Schera and Orangella Racing Stable’s Paret–both competed in the MATCH Series for the first time at Delaware Park in July and need two more starts to qualify for bonus money.
Abiding Star, trained by Edward Allard, was cross-entered in the $150,000 Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth Park the day before the 7 1/2-furlong Neshaminy. Abiding Star and the James Lawrence II-trained Paret would both need to race at Parx and at Monmouth Sept. 28–the last of five MATCH Series legs–to qualify for bonus money based on accumulated points.
Bensalem Stakes (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt Division)
Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ Laki, who tops his division with 13 points in two starts, is among the nine entered in the six-furlong stakes. Laki, a Damon Dilodovico trainee who won this MATCH division last year, needs one more start to qualify for bonus money.
Uptowncharlybrown Stud entered its full brothers–Midtowncharlybrown and Midnight Charly–who finished first and third, respectively, in the Chocolatetown Sprint at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in their only starts in the MATCH Series, are entered in the Bensalem. Both would need to race at Parx and Monmouth to qualify for bonus money.
Altissimo, the other MATCH Series leg winner along with Laki and Midtowncharlybrown, opted not to ship from Ohio for the Parx race and will not qualify for bonus money should he race at Monmouth in the final leg.
Roamin Rachel Stakes (Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division)
The six-furlong stakes features division and overall series leader Ms Locust Point (24 points), owned by Jim Reichenberg and Cash is King, and 2W Racing’s Bronx Beauty, second in the standings with 20 points. Ms Locust Point has competed in the three previous MATCH Series events and will earn 5 bonus points with a start at Parx, while Bronx Beauty is two-for-two in MATCH competition and needs one more start to qualify for bonus points.
Steve and Debbie Jackson’s Last True Love has competed in all three division stakes thus far for 6 points, but if she starts at Parx she, too, will get an automatic 5 points for her fourth start on top of points earned for her finish position.
The Roamin Rachel also drew Lael Stable’s Chalon, who won her only MATCH Series start in 2018 and would make her first series this year. Chalon last time out finished second in a Grade II stakes at Saratoga Race Course and finished second in a Grade III event at Belmont Park before that. She isn’t eligible for bonus money this year given her lack of participation in earlier legs but looms a serious threat.
Heider Family Stables, Madaket Stables and Michael Kisber’s Cairenn, third in the division standings with 8 points but in need of one more start to qualify for bonus money, was entered in a $75,000 stakes at Colonial Downs Aug. 31 and will pass on the Roamin Rachel.
Sal DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup (Filly and Mare Long–Turf Division)
In what has become a division in need of a leader, it could be Ballybrit Stable’s Dynatail, who won the Susquehanna Stakes at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in her only MATCH Series outing this year. Dynatail and three others are tied at the top, each with 10 points, but she’s the only one of the four entered in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes.
Dynatail, trained by Mike Dini, is based at Monmouth, which may improve her chances of competing in three stakes in the division and make her the one to beat in the bonus money race.
Also entered is Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Striking, who has 6 points in two series starts but would qualify for bonus money with a third or fourth start in a wide-open division.
The MATCH Series offers a total of $375,000 in bonus money for owners and trainers of the top three horses in each division by points (minimum of three starts required). That includes the $75,000 for the owner and trainer of the top horse by points across all divisions. In addition, up to $40,000 in bonus money is available for the top Maryland-bred, New Jersey-bred, Pennsylvania-bred and Delaware Certified male and female runners by points–if they qualify with three series starts.