Posted: May 29, 2019

By Tom LaMarra

Two winners of their divisional stakes when the MATCH Series kicked off in April at Laurel Park are among the horses entered in four series stakes June 1 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

Penn National, the second stop on a five-track MATCH Series tour this year, will offer eight stakes worth a total of $1.3 million on the Saturday program, which has a special first post time of 2:45 p.m. EDT.

The four stakes, each worth $100,000, will be run consecutively as Races 6 through 9 on a 12-race program: the Penn Ladies Dash (Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division), Chocolatetown Sprint (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt Division), Susquehanna Stakes (Filly and Mare Long–Turf Division), and Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf Division).

Here’s an overview of the stakes in the second round of the MATCH Series:

Penn Ladies Dash at six furlongs

Jim Reichenberg and Cash is King’s Ms Locust Point (trainer John Servis), one of the top female sprinters in the Mid-Atlantic region, defeated Heider Family Stables, Madaket Stables and Michael Kisber’s Cairenn (trainer Graham Motion) by a nose in the Primonetta Stakes at Laurel. The two mares are part of a tough field that includes Penn National-based Crabcakes (trainer Bernie Houghton), the popular Maryland-bred mare who has won nine of 16 starts for owner Morgan’s Ford Farm and would make her first start of the year in the Penn Ladies Dash.

Also entered is 2W Stables’ Bronx Beauty (trainer Anthony Margotta Jr.), who is three-for-three at Penn National and probably lost all chance at the start in her 2019 debut at Parx Racing in April, and Danny Chen’s Yorkiepoo Princess (trainer Edward Barker), a New York shipper who last year finished third in the Roamin Rachel Stakes, which was part of the MATCH Series.

Chocolatetown Sprint Stakes at six furlongs

Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ Laki (trainer Damon Dilodovico), who captured the 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt Division in 2018, was a powerful winner of the Frank J. Whiteley Stakes in 1:08.47 for six furlongs at Laurel to begin his assault on another MATCH title. Jeff Drown’s Home Run Maker (trainer Jeremiah Engelhart), who was fifth in the Whiteley, is the only other runner from that race to return for round two.

Two full Pennsylvania-bred brothers are entered in the Chocolatetown for owners Uptowncharlybrown Stud and Godric LLC: 5-year-old Midtowncharlybrown and 4-year-old Midnightcharly, who are by Uptowncharlybrown out of the Speightstown mare Torchwood. Trained by Eddie Colletti Jr., the brothers have started a combined 27 times for total earnings of more than $580,000; Midtowncharlybrown has five wins and a second in six Penn National starts.

Susquehanna Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf

The first stakes in the Filly and Mare Long–Turf Division, the Dahlia, went to the Motion-trained Secret Message, who on Memorial Day weekend captured the Grade II Nassau Stakes at Woodbine. Mens Grille Racing’s Enchanted Ghost (trainer Hamilton Smith) was a troubled fourth in the Dahlia in her first outing on grass and appears to have a fine chance in the Susquehanna.

Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Striking (trainer Mike Trombetta) was sixth in the Dahlia after an early duel in her first start of the year and should move up off that effort; she won the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in 2018. Ballybrit Stable’s Dynatail, trained by Mike Dini, is the only entrant with a race on the Penn National turf course–in 2017 she won the Penn Oaks and in her first start of this year won a tough allowance race at Keeneland.

Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at five furlongs on the turf

Patricia Generazio’s veteran campaigner Pure Sensation (trainer Christophe Clement), a multiple graded-stakes winner of $1.59 million with Breeders’ Cup experience, may have chased away some of the competition given the compact field, but the Governor’s Cup could prove rather competitive.

Robert Bone’s Completed Pass, who has made four starts for trainer Claudio Gonzalez, tried the turf in his last two starts and came away with a near-miss behind Dirty in the King T. Leatherbury Stakes, opening leg of the 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf Division. He followed up with a victory in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico.

Dirty, trained by Engelhart, isn’t entered in the Chocolatetown but the trainer will send out Gold Square’s Square Shooter, who was sixth in the Grade II Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland in April and has been shopping for a spot recently.

The Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Penn National management in April received approval from the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission to reduce the pari-mutuel takeout rate for Pick 4 wagers by one-third to 15% for the June 1 card. The track plans three Pick 4s, including one featuring the MATCH Series stakes.

As was the case when the series began April 20 at Laurel Park in Maryland, custom past performances for the full program at Penn National will be available for free via a link at the top of the home page courtesy of the MATCH Series partners.

This year’s MATCH Series offers $2 million in purse money, $375,000 in owner and trainer bonuses and up to $40,000 in breeders’ bonuses for horses bred in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania or certified in Delaware. After Penn National, the series travels to Delaware Park July 13, Parx Racing Sept. 2 and Monmouth Park Sept. 28.

Horses need to start in three races in their division to qualify for bonus money.

(Photo of Ms Locust Point winning Primonetta Stakes by Jim McCue/MJC)