Posted: Sept. 1, 2021

By Tom LaMarra

After a successful day Aug. 23 at Colonial Downs, the MATCH Series returns to Maryland, where Laurel Park will host the remainder of stakes in the 2021 series.

The following is a look at the standings in the four divisions this year. Note that a horse must have three starts in a division to qualify for bonus money that is awarded to the top three in each division.

3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt division (two of six legs remain: Sept. 18 and Dec. 26)

Mucho, owned by WSS Racing and 4 G Racing and trained by John Ortiz, has started three times in the series and tops the division with 20 points. Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ Laki, trained by Damon Dilodovico, has four starts and 18 points, which includes 5 bonus points.

Three horses–Just Might, owned by trainer Michelle Lovell and Griffin Farms; Yaupon, owned by William and Corrine Heiligbrodt and trained by Steve Asmussen; and Special Reserve, owned by Paradise Farms and David Staudacher and trained by Mike Maker–each have 10 points but only one series outing.

Euro Stables’ Lebda, trained by Claudio Gonzalez; and Whereshetoldmetogo, trained by Brittany Russell for Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and Black Cloud Racing, each have two series starts and 8 points.

Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt division (two of six legs remain: Sept. 18 and Dec. 26)

Chub Wagon, owned by Daniel Lopez and George Chestnut, has two wins in two series starts for a total of 20 points. Hello Beautiful, owned by Madaket Stables, Albert Frassetto, Mark Parkinson, K-Mac Stables and Magic City Stables, is a close second with 17 points after two starts.

Larry Johnson’s Never Enough Time, trained by Mike Trombetta, made the trip to Colonial Downs and picked up 7 points for a total of 12, and it was her third start in the series.

3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt division (three of six legs remain: Sept. 18, Nov. 27 and Dec. 26)

Hillwood Stables’ Cordmaker, trained by Rodney Jenkins, was victorious at Colonial Downs in his third series start and now leads the division with 18 points. He will earn 5 bonus points when he makes his fourth series start.

GMP Stables, Arnold Bernewith and Cypress Creek Stables’ Harpers First Ride, trained by Claudio Gonzalez, has 11 points after two starts but has been given some time off from racing. Last Judgment, owned by Michael Dubb, Steve Hornstock, Michael Caruso and Nice Guys Stables, won the Grade III Pimlico Special–the first stakes in the division–for trainer Mike Maker and has 10 points.

Next in line is McElmore Avenue, owned by trainer Mary Eppler and Ram Racing Stable, with 7 points. Though his start at Colonial Downs was his first in the series, he is based at Pimlico Race Course and still has time to have an impact with three legs remaining in the division.

Filly and Mare Long–Dirt division (three of six legs remain: Sept. 18, Nov. 13 and Dec. 26)

After three legs, no horse that has points has started more than once in the division. That opens the door to some locally-based runners whose connections commit to MATCH for the rest of the year.

The top three, each with 10 points, are Saracosa, owned by Chad Schumer and trained by Cipriano Contreras; Mrs. Orb, owned by Ruggeri Stable, Richard Coburn, Script R Farm and trainer Mike Miceli; and Spice Is Nice, owned by Robert and Lawana Low and trained by Todd Pletcher.

There are three with 7 points, including Jim Eshleman’s Trolley Ride, who is based at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course with trainer Bernie Houghton. Sweet Sami D, currently based at Monmouth Park with trainer Patrick McBurney for owners ABL Stable, Dominic Bassone, Peter Donnelly and W. Oberdorff, is tied with three others with 5 points. James Wolf’s Artful Splatter, trained by Kieron Magee at Pimlico, is tied with three others with 3 points.

The four stakes Sept. 18 at Laurel are the $200,000 Grade III Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint–Dirt division), $100,000 Weathervane (Filly and Mare Sprint–Dirt division), $100,000 Polynesian (3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt division) and $100,000 Twixt (Filly and Mare Long–Dirt division). Nominations close Sept. 4.

(Cordmaker photo by Coady Photography)