By Tom LaMarra
After closing the MATCH Series in September 2018 in style, Laurel Park this year will host the first round of stakes in the series on April 20.
Owners and trainers are reminded that nominations for the first four series events close April 11.
Under a new format, five racetracks will host one day of MATCH stakes, one in each of the four divisions for 2019. After Laurel, the series moves to Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course June 1, followed by Delaware Park July 13, Parx Racing Sept. 2 and Monmouth Park Sept. 28.
The April 20 program at Laurel, which plans a big day, will offer seven stakes in total including $125,000 Federico Tesio and $125,000 Weber City Miss, which provide the winner an automatic spot in the Preakness Stakes and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, respectively, at Pimlico Race Course in May.
The MATCH Series stakes, each worth $100,000, are the Frank Whitely Jr. (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt Division), Primonetta (Fillies and Mares Sprint–Dirt Division), King T. Leatherbury (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf Division), and Dahlia Stakes (Fillies and Mares Long–Turf Division).
There is no special nomination required to qualify for MATCH Series events. Nominations to each of the stakes are made in accordance with the procedures established by each host track.
The new format is designed to generate more interest in the series and encourage participation by horsemen through a more structured format.