- Published: Tuesday, 20 February 2018 19:16
The highly popular MATCH Series (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships) is returning in 2018 after a 16-year hiatus.
The Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and its affiliates in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; Maryland Jockey Club (Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park); Delaware Park; Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment (Parx); Penn National Gaming (Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course); Darby Development (Monmouth Park); Eldorado Resorts (Presque Isle Downs & Casino); and the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association are proud to announce their joint participation after regional discussions during the past six months led to an agreement to revive the MATCH Series and expand cooperation among all stakeholders in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The MATCH Series, which debuted in 1997 and ran for five years, is an innovative regional racing series and the only one of its kind in racing that combines rich stakes and bonuses for participating owners and trainers over a five-month span. Horses competing in MATCH earn points based on participation and order of finish, and the leading points earners in each of the series divisions, as well as the overall owner and trainer points leaders, win lucrative bonuses.
The 2018 series will be contested among five divisions: 3-Year-Olds & Up Long—Dirt; 3-Year-Olds & Up Sprint—Dirt; 3-Year-Olds & Up Fillies and Mares Sprint—Dirt; 3-Year Olds & Up Sprint—Turf; and 3-Year-Olds and Up Fillies and Mares Sprint—Turf. Each division will have five races from mid- May through mid-September (the Series schedule is attached).
Total purse money is $2.9 million. Horsemen will compete for $450,000 in bonus money, all contributed by the participating horsemen’s organizations.
The first-, second- and third-place owners, respectively, in each division will earn $20,000, $15,000, and $10,000. The top three earning trainers will earn $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. The MATCH Series overall top earning owner will win $50,000, while the top earning trainer will earn $25,000. Previous series winners included trainers Graham Motion and Ben Perkins Jr., and owners Arthur Appleton and Sam Huff.
MATCH will debut Preakness Stakes weekend at Pimlico with the Skipat Stakes and the Jim McKay Turf Sprint on May 18, Black-Eyed Susan Day. It will continue on May 19, Preakness Day, with The Very One Stakes and the Maryland Sprint Stakes.
The series will be contested throughout the summer at Delaware Park, Laurel Park, Monmouth Park, Parx, Penn National and Presque Isle, culminating with Championship Weekend, Sept. 15-16 at Laurel, Parx and Presque Isle. The participating tracks have all agreed to support the MATCH Series divisions and not run races in competition with them. Participating horsemen will have a regional roadmap of stakes for their horses from May to September.
Racing directors at each of the participating tracks worked together to select divisions that could provide the least amount of overlap and, hopefully, larger fields for all concerned.
“I am delighted that the series is returning,” said MATCH creator and THA Chairman Alan Foreman. “The Mid-Atlantic region has been working cooperatively on so many levels during the past five years, and the renewal of MATCH is a further testament to this cooperation. I am pleased that we are able to tell the horsemen who have asked about MATCH so many times over recent years that it is back, and we are looking forward to a great competition.”