By Tom LaMarra

The first four stakes in the 2018 MATCH Series, which was last held in 2001, attracted a combined 130 nominations, several of which are cross-entered in dirt and turf races. The series will begin May 18-19 at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland as part of Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes weekend.

The $100,000 Skipat Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs, and the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs will be run May 18. The $100,000 The Very One, a $100,000 event for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf, and the grade III, $150,000 Maryland Sprint Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs, are scheduled for May 19.

The Very One has the most nominations at 39, followed by the Maryland Sprint with 34, Skipat with 30, and the Jim McKay with 27. Roughly 75%

of the total number of horses nominated to the four races are conditioned by trainers based in the Mid-Atlantic region or New York.

Entries for the Friday, May 18, program will be drawn Sunday, May 13. Entries for the Saturday, May 19 Preakness card will be taken May 20.

“The nominations were strong and I hope that gives us a good sign of full fields,” Maryland Jockey Club President Sal Sinatra said. “It should kick off a competitive series in each of the divisions we’re hosting Preakness weekend. Based on the nominations there is a lot of participation from Mid-Atlantic trainers, which is good for the overall series.”

The Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships features 25 stakes, five in five divisions, through mid-September. Purses total $2.9 million, while bonuses total $490,000.