With the fourth leg of the 2019 MATCH Series approaching, multiple horses have qualified for bonus money but many need to start in at least one of the final two legs to have a chance to share in the $375,000 available to owners and trainers.
The overall series leader thus far is Jim Reichenberg and Cash is King’s MS. LOCUST POINT (left), who has a win and a pair of second-place finishes in the first three series legs in the Filly and Mare Sprint—Dirt Division for a total of 24 points. In second with 20 points is 2W Racing’s BRONX BEAUTY (right), who defeated MS. LOCUST POINT twice in the series and needs one more start to qualify for bonus money.
John Servis, who trains MS. LOCUST POINT recently said the mare is training well and is expected to compete in the MATCH Series Sept. 2 at Parx Racing, where she is stabled. Richard Woll, who owns BRONX BEAUTY said he intends to stick with the series; the filly trained by Anthony Margotta Jr. is based at Monmouth Park, which will host the final series leg Sept. 28.
Steve and Debbie Jackson’s LAST TRUE LOVE, trained by Flint Stites, has competed in all three division legs and currently has 6 points. Heider Family Stables, Madaket Stables and Michael Kisber’s CAIRENN (8 points), trained by Graham Motion; and Danny Chen’s YORKIEPOO PRINCESS (4 points), trained by Ed Barker, both need one more start to qualify for a shot at bonus money.
Robert Bone’s COMPLETED PASS (above), third in the overall standings with 15 points in the 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint—Turf Division, qualified for bonus money with his third series start at Delaware Park in July. The gelding broke poorly, however, and never got into the race.
Trained by Claudio Gonzalez, COMPLETED PASS returned to the work tab Aug. 2 at Laurel Park with a half-mile breeze in :47. It remains to be seen whether the connections will opt for the 7 ½-furlong Neshaminy Stakes, a MATCH Series event, or the five-furlong, Grade III Turf Monster Stakes on the Labor Day program at Parx.
COMPLETED PASS is the only horse in his division to have qualified for bonus money. Gold Square’s SQUARE SHOOTER (6 points), trained by Jeremiah Engelhart, has two MATCH starts and needs one more.
Hillside Equestrian Meadows’ LAKI, who captured the 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint—Dirt Division last year, leads the division this year with 13 points after a win at Laurel and a fourth-place finish at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. Trainer Damon Dilodovico planned to race LAKI at Delaware Park, but concern over a strangles case at the track led him and the owner to not ship north from Laurel.
Dilovodico, however, said the plan is to return to the series at Parx and then Monmouth for the finale to shoot for another division title.
Uptowncharlybrown Stud’s Bob Hutt said the strangles situation led trainer Eddie Coletti Jr. to pass on the Hockessin Stakes at Delaware Park with the stable’s full brothers, MIDTOWNCHARLYBROWN (above right) and MIDNIGHTCHARLY, who finished first and third, respectively, in the Chocolatetown Sprint Stakes at Penn National to earn MATCH Series points. MIDTOWNCHARLYBROWN (10 points) and MIDNIGHTCHARLY (5 points) on Aug. 3 finished one-two in the $100,000 Banjo Picker Stakes for Pennsylvania-breds at six furlongs at Parx, where they are stabled.
Hutt said the “game plan” as of now is to race the brothers by Uptowncharlybrown in the upcoming MATCH events. Each has one series start so far.
Jeff Drown’s HOME RUN MAKER (4 points in the division), trained by Engelhart, raced in the first two series legs and needs one more start to qualify for bonus money.
In the Filly and Mare Long—Turf Division, four horses need one more start to qualify for bonus money: Mens Grille Racing’s ENCHANTED GHOST (10 points) and Lorian Francesca Peralta-Ramos’ QUICK WHITTED (6 points), both trained by Hamilton Smith; Live Oak Plantation’s SOUPER STRIKING (6 points), trained by Mike Trombetta; and Karen Clark’s UNBRIDLED ESCAPE (3 points), trained by Kelly Lynn Deiter.
The $300,000 Turf Monster and MATCH Series stakes Sept. 3 will be part of a six-stakes program at Parx that includes the $300,000, Grade III Smarty Jones Stakes, a local prep for the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby, and the $150,000 Cathryn Sophia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The MATCH stakes, each worth $100,000, are as follows: the Bensalem (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint—Dirt Division), Roamin Rachel (Filly and Mare Sprint—Dirt Division), Neshaminy (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint—Turf Division) and Sal DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup (Filly and Mare Long—Turf Division).
Labor Day has been dubbed “Smarty Jones Day” in honor of the Parx-based Pennsylvania-bred colt who just missed winning the 2004 Triple Crown and retired with eight wins in nine starts. Plans call for the stallion to parade at Parx that afternoon.