MATCH Series Title Up For Grabs At Parx On Monday

The 2022 Mid-Atlantic Championships Series (MATCH) will conclude Monday, Oct. 3, at Parx Racing with some divisions already decided but the overall title up for grabs. All of the horses in the running for overall championship honors are among the 45 horses entered in the four divisional stakes.

The MATCH Series stakes are slated as Races 8 through 11 on a 12-race program that begins at 12:55 p.m.

The program will feature four $100,000 stakes: the Roamin Rachel (Filly and Mare Sprint—Dirt division), Liberty Bell (3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint—Dirt division), Bucks County (3-Year-Olds and Up Long—Turf division) and Salvatore DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup (Filly and Mare Long—Turf division). The two dirt stakes are at 6 1/2 furlongs while the turf stakes will be run at 1 1/8 miles.

The final outcome could be determined by weather—the remnants of Hurricane Ian and its impact on turf racing—and horses nominated or cross-entered in other regional stakes.

William Pape’s Deciding Vote, the overall MATCH Series leader with 26 points, is entered in the DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup, which drew a field of 14 plus two main-track only horses. Deciding Vote, trained by Edward Graham, is one of only two horses this year to have started in all four legs of a division leading to the final. If she starts at Parx, the minimum number of points she can earn—that includes 2 bonus points—is three, which would secure the division title.

Stuart Janney III’s In a Hurry is second with 17 points, two more than Timory Ridall’s Tic Tic Tic Boom. In a Hurry, who already has three MATCH Series starts and is eligible for bonus money, raced in the Grade III Athenia Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack Sept. 24 and is not entered at Parx. Tic Tic Tic Boom, trained by Alan Bedard is based at Parx and with a fifth series start would pick up enough points to secure second place in the division.

No Guts No Glory Farm and CJI Phoenix Group’s Fille d’Esprit, currently tied with Kaylasaurus in her division with 22 points, is among the 11 fillies and mares entered in the Roamin Rachel. With Kaylasaurus still on the sidelines after being diagnosed with an injury before her planned fourth series start at Colonial Downs in August, the John Robb-trained Fille d’Esprit would challenge for the overall championship at Parx as she could collect a maximum of 37 points with a victory in the Roamin Rachel.

Based on MATCH Series rules for tie-breakers, Fille d’Esprit, with two wins versus one for Kaylasaurus, will win her division. Kaylasaurus will finish second. The breeders of both mares will also win bonus money offered by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, respectively.

Mark Grier’s Eons, a two-time MATCH stakes winner in three starts this year, has 23 points to lead his division heading into the Bucks County, which drew a field of nine plus one main-track-only. The Arnaud Delacour trainee is also nominated to the 1 1/2-mile, $100,000 Japan Cup at Laurel Park Oct. 1; if he opts for the Parx race, Eons would earn 5 bonus points for a fourth series start and the regular 10 points for a victory—enough for the overall championship depending upon performances in the other divisions.

Runnymore Racing’s Beacon Hill, also nominated to the Japan Cup at Laurel, has 10 points after three series outings and wasn’t entered in the Bucks County. He is assured second in the standings.

The Liberty Bell, with nine entered, has been on the calendar for St. Omer’s Farm and Christopher Feifarek’s Beren, who sits atop his division with 17 points after two series starts. Trained by Robert Reid Jr., Beren must start at Parx to be eligible for bonus money.

Second in the standings with 10 points after three series starts is Pocket 3’s Racing’s Threes Over Deuces, who is entered in the Liberty Bell and a Delaware-Certified Stakes at Delaware Park Sept. 30. Depending on where he races, Threes Over Deuces could win his division based on projected maximum points with a start at Parx depending on the performance of Beren.

The 2023 bonus money distribution offers up to $92,500 per division and $30,000 for the overall champion by points. For each division, first place pays $30,000 to the owner and $15,000 to the trainer; for second, $20,000/$10,000; and for third, $10,000/$7,500. For the overall champion, the owner receives an additional $20,000 and the trainer $10,000.

The Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association and Virginia Thoroughbred Association have each agreed to offer $5,000 bonuses to breeders based on the performances of horses in the series for a potential total of $30,000. Pennsylvania and Virginia will recognized the top male and female state-bred runners by overall points earned, while Maryland will award bonuses to the top Maryland-bred and Maryland-sired runners by overall points earned.

The MATCH Series originally debuted in 1997 and ran for five years. It returned with great success in 2018 and was held in 2019 and 2021. The innovative regional racing series—the only one of its kind in horse racing—combines rich stakes and bonuses for participating owners and trainers who compete over a five- to seven-month span. Horses competing in MATCH earn points based on participation and order of finish in each series race, and the leading point-earners in each of the series divisions, as well as the owner and trainer of the overall points leader, win lucrative bonuses.

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