Posted: May 24, 2019

By Tom LaMarra

The four MATCH Series stakes scheduled for June 1 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course attracted a total of 130 nominations including several winners from the first round of the series April 20 at Laurel Park.

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.

Under a new 2019 format, each MATCH partner racetrack hosts one race from each of four divisions on the same day. Penn National will host the following series stakes: $100,000 Chocolatetown Sprint (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt Division), $100,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Turf Division), $100,000 Penn Ladies Dash (Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt Division) and $100,000 Susquehanna Stakes (Filly and Mare Long–Turf Division).

The Penn Ladies Dash at six furlongs has 29 nominees including the top three finishers in the Primonetta Stakes at Laurel: Jim Reichenberg and Cash is King’s Ms Locust Point; Heider Family Stables, Madaket Stables and Michael Kisber’s Cairenn; and Lady Sheila Stable and Iris Smith Stable’s Startwithsilver.

The top two finishers in the King T. Leatherbury Stakes at Laurel–Tom O’Grady’s Dirty and Robert Bone’s Completed Pass–are among 35 nominees for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at five furlongs on the grass. After his near-miss at Laurel, Completed Pass returned May 17 at Pimlico Race Course and won the grade III Jim McKay Turf Sprint.

Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ Laki and Linda Zang’s Lewisfield, one-two in the Frank Whiteley Stakes at Laurel, are two of 25 nominees for the Chocolatetown Sprint Stakes at six furlongs. Trainer Damon Dilodovico has said Laki, who captured the MATCH division championship in 2018, would stick with the series; Lewisfield on May 18 at Pimlico finished third in the grade III Maryland Sprint Stakes and isn’t expected for the Chocolatetown, trainer Jeff Runco said.

The Susquehanna Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf has 41 nominees, but the top three from the Dahlia Stakes at Laurel aren’t among them. Mens Grille Racing’s Enchanted Ghost, a solid fourth in the Dahlia after a troubled start, is nominated along with Lorian Francesca Peralta-Ramos’ Quick Witted and Glenangus Farm’s Peach of a Gal, who both encountered trouble in the stretch run of the Dahlia.

Supplemental nominations at $2,000 per horse are accepted at the time of entry, which is Wednesday, May 29. In all, 241 nominations were received for the eight stakes, highlighted by the $500,000 Penn Mile, a grade II event for 3-year-olds on the turf.

“We are thrilled with the support we received from the horsemen for Penn Mile Day,” said Eric Johnston, Director of Racing Operations at Penn National. “This is shaping up to be one of the best race cards in the history of the track. We’re proud to have developed a program that so many of the top outfits in the country are circling on their calendar.”

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.

(Photo of Laki winning Frank Whiteley Stakes courtesy of Jim McCue/MJC)