Posted: Nov. 13, 2021

By Tom LaMarra

BB Horses’ Miss Leslie became the fifth different winner in five legs in her MATCH Series division with a solid off-the-pace victory in the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes Nov. 13 at Laurel Park.

The win by Miss Leslie, a 3-year-old Paynter filly who cleared the $300,000 mark in earnings, created a scramble in the standings for the Filly and Mare Long–Dirt division. The final leg, the $100,000 Carousel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles, will be held Dec. 26 at Laurel.

Miss Leslie, conditioned by meet-leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez, was positioned eighth of nine through the first half-mile of the 1 1/16-mile Thirty Eight Go Go before launching a steady bid five-wide on the far turn that carried her to the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile. She held off bids by a pair of Mike Trombetta trainees–33-1 Looking Dynamic, who finished second, and 48-1 Villanelle, who was third–by a half-length.

Miss Leslie paid $4 to win as the favorite and covered the distance on a track rated good in 1:43.63. Artful Splatter checked in fourth after traffic issues in the stretch, while second choice Josie finished fifth.

On Oct. 21 at Delaware Park, Miss Leslie went last to first to win a top-level allowance event at one mile and 70 yards by 5 1/4 lengths. Her other win in 2021 came in the 1 1/16-mile Weber City Miss Stakes, restricted to 3-year-old fillies, at Pimlico Race Course in late April.

“She likes to go long,” Gonzalez assistant Troy Singh said. “That’s what she wants to do. We know how the MATCH Series works, and we’re pointing to the Dec. 26 race at Laurel.”

Cruz, who rode Miss Leslie at Delaware Park and picked up his 23rd win of the fall meet in the Thirty Eight Go Go, was involved in a spill earlier on the Laurel program but was checked out by medical staff and cleared to ride.

“I rode her one time, so I knew how she does, Cruz said. “She breaks a little slow, and Claudio just told me to wait for moment to move and that’s what I did. I waited, I moved on the outside and she kicked on.”

Miss Leslie picked up 10 MATCH Series points for a total of 13, which puts her in a tie with Artful Splatter for second. Miss Leslie must start in the Carousel to qualify for bonus money–a minimum of three starts in the series are required. The Thirty Eight Go Go marked the third series start for Artful Splatter, and trainer Kieron Magee earlier indicated the Maryland-bred mare would be pointed to the Dec. 26 finale. With a fourth start, Artful Splatter would earn 5 bonus points on top of any points she earns by finish position.

Dreamalildreamofu, who is based in Kentucky and leads the division standings with 17 points, was sold at the Keeneland November sale Nov. 12 and her status is unknown. She would have to race in the Carousel to qualify for bonus money.

Three of the other winners of division stakes have lost the opportunity to qualify for bonus money with only one start thus far. That opens the door for horses such as Lookin Dynamic and Trolley Ride, each with 8 points and two series starts. If they compete in the Carousel, they will qualify for a shot at the bonus pool, which pays to the top three horses by points in each division.

MATCH Series division bonus money is awarded to the owner and trainer as follows: $20,000/$10,000 for first, $15,000/$7,500 for second, and $7,500/$3,000 for third. In addition, the owner and trainer of the overall points-earner regardless of division will receive $20,000 and $10,000, respectively.

Laurel will host the $100,000 Richard Small Stakes (3-Year-Olds and Up Long-Dirt division) Nov. 27 before the MATCH Series ends Dec. 26 at Laurel with stakes in all four divisions.

(Photo by Jim McCue)