Posted: July 29, 2021

By Tom LaMarra

Several horses are poised to make up substantial ground in the standings when Pimlico Race Course hosts three stakes that are part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships Series (MATCH) Saturday, July 31.

The $100,000 Challedon Stakes and $100,000 Alma North Stakes, both at six furlongs, will be the third of six legs in the 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt division and Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt division, respectively. The $100,000 Deputed Testamony Stakes at 1 1/8 miles is the second of six legs in the 3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt division.

The Alma North has attracted Hello Beautiful, the 4-year-old Maryland-bred filly by Golden Lad who is tied for second in the division standings with 7 MATCH Series points behind undefeated Chub Wagon, who leads with 20 points after two starts. The standout Pennsylvania-bred filly, however, will not compete in the Alma North and would miss the fourth leg of the division at Colonial Downs should she race in a $100,000 state-bred stakes Aug. 23 at Parx Racing, where she is stabled.

Hello Beautiful, trained by Brittany Russell for Madaket Stables, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson, K-Mac Stables and Magic City Stables, has won seven of 15 starts and finished only a neck behind Chub Wagon in the Shine Again Stakes at Pimlico June 13 in her most recent start. She will be ridden as usual by Sheldon Russell in her second MATCH Series start of the year.

“She has trained really well,” Russell said. “Sheldon worked her last week (in :49 for a half-mile at Pimlico) and all systems point to go. Hopefully the time she has had and as well as she has done in between and running at Pimlico, which she showed she can absolutely handle, will prove beneficial.”

Michael and Katherine Ball’s Club Car and C & B Stables’ Paisley Singing each have 5 MATCH points based on third-place finishes in the Skipat Stakes and Shine Again, respectively. Both are entered in the Alma North.

The MATCH Series points structure in each stakes is as follows: 10 for first, 7 for second, 5 for third, 3 for fourth, 2 for fifth and 1 for sixth through last. Bonus points based on number of starts are designed to encourage participation. With six races in each of four divisions this year, a fourth series start is worth 5 bonus points; a fifth start, 2 points; and a sixth start, 3 points, for a maximum of 10. Horses must compete in three races in their division to qualify for a share of $282,000 in bonus money.

Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ Laki, an 8-year-old Maryland-bred gelding who was the 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt division champion in 2018-19, will make his third series start of the year in the Challedon. He is second in the division standings with 9 points behind Yaupon and Special Reserve–each with 10 points–who are not expected to follow the MATCH Series trail.

Laki, a winner of 11 of 35 starts–seven of them stakes–worked a half-mile in :49.60 at Pimlico July 22 in preparation for the Challedon. He will be ridden by Horacio Karamanos.

The Russell-trained Whereshetoldmetogo, owned by Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and Black Cloud Racing Stable, will make his first MATCH Series start in the Challedon. The 6-year-old Maryland-bred gelding was an easy winner of the six-furlong Alapocas Run Stakes at Delaware Park in his last start July 3, one of four wins in his last five starts. Sheldon Russell is named to ride.

A pair of Maryland-bred geldings who competed in the Grade III Pimlico Special, the first stakes in the division, are entered in the Deputed Testamony.

Hillwood Stables’ 6-year-old Cordmaker, fourth in the Pimlico Special, has been working at the Maryland State Fair at Timonium in preparation for the Deputed Testamony. The winner of nine of 29 starts will be ridden again by Victor Carrasco and has three series points.

GMP Stables, Arnold Bennewith and Cypress Creek Equine’s Harpers First Ride finished 10th in the Pimlico Special but returned to the barn of Claudio Gonzalez after that race and easily won a 1 1/16-mile allowance event at Pimlico. Harpers First Ride, who worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 at Pimlico July 23, has won 11 of 22 starts including the Pimlico Special and Deputed Testamony in 2020. Regular rider Angel Cruz has the mount.

Following the action at Pimlico, the MATCH Series will return Aug. 23 at Colonial Downs in Virginia with four $100,000 stakes on tap.