BENSALEM, Pa.--Abiding Star and Dynatail established themselves as the leaders in two divisions in the MATCH Series races at Parx on Sept. 2, while Ms Locust Point and Laki maintained their divisional leads.
In the Roamin Rachel Stakes for 3-Year-Olds and Up, Fillies and Mares, Sprint–Dirt Division, the showdown between division and overall series leader Ms Locust Point, owned by Jim Reichenberg and Cash is King, and two-time series winner Bronx Beaut, owned by 2W Racing, was upstaged by Chalon, who accelerated under Paco Lopez when she found room in the lane and drew away to win the 6 furlong race by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:11.90 on a track rated fast.
Longshot Mess'n Around, owned by Mason Dixon Stable, rallied strongly to pass Bronx Beauty for second, while Danny Chen’s Yorkiepoo Princess was fourth by a neck over Ms Locust Point, who had forced the early pace while three-wide.
WITH HER fourth series start, however, Ms Locust Point picked up five bonus points to go along with another two for her finish position, which gives her 31 points to top her division and also the overall MATCH Series so far.
“It’s good money,” Cash is King’s Chuck Zacney said of the reason the 5-year-old mare trained by John Servis has stuck with the series. “And she always gives 100 percent out there.”
Bronx Beauty picked up five points and now has 25.
Trainer Anthony Margotta Jr. said he was going through the various scenarios that could unfold should the top two meet at Monmouth, which appears the plan.
He said the series is good for competition, and indicated it doesn’t hurt that Brox Beauty is based at Monmouth.
Steve and Debbie Jackson’s Last True Love, who hasn’t missed a MATCH dance this year, picked up five bonus points plus another for her sixth place finish, so she now has 12 points, good for third in the standings.
Yorkiepoo Princess qualified for a chance at bonus money and now has seven points.
As for Lael Stable’s Chalon, she is now two-for-two in MATCH competition, with a win last year at Monmouth that set her up for two near-misses in a G2 stakes at Keeneland and in the GI Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
Trainer Arnaud Delacour said those two races are the target again this year.
“We had the Roamin Rachel in mind for her as it’s 33 days before the Thoroughbred Club of America, and then there’s the Breeders’ Cup," said Delacour. "The timing was perfect. We’re trying so hard to get the graded stakes win that she deserves.”
THE NESHAMINY Stakes for 3-Year-Olds and Up, Sprint, Turf Division, was up next, and Trainer Edward Allard had entered Stonehedge LLC’s Abiding Star in the G3 Red Bank Stakes at Monmouth on Sept. 1, but he opted for the 7 ½-furlong Neshaminy.
The move paid off as Abiding Star took command early under Carol Cedeno and held off Matthew Schera and Jeffrey Pesot’s Paret in a stretch-long duel to prevail by a neck in 1:29.56 on a course rated firm.
Abiding Star and Paret finished second and third, respectively, separated by a neck, in the 7 ½-furlong Glasgow Stakes at Delaware Park.
Abiding Star now has 17 points, two more than division leader Completed Pass, who didn’t race at Parx but has three series starts and thus qualifies for bonus money.
Abiding Star and Paret, with 12 points, each need one more start to qualify.
The Rainbow Heir Stakes, the final race of the division, is at 5 ½ furlongs, but both horses have competed in one-turn turf sprints.
“I liked his chances here today,” Allard said. “I’ve had horses for Stonehedge for many years. They’re great owners and they’ve given me great horses. He has gone short before, and given the win today we might have to take a look at Monmouth.”
Meanwhile, Patricia Generazio’s 8-year-old Pure Sensation, who won the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in his only MATCH division start this year, won the G3 Turf Monster Stakes later on the Parx card for the fourth time in his career.
FOR THE Bensalem Stakes for 3-Year-Old & Up, Sprint, Dirt Division, Trainer Steve Asmussen has a history of shipping to the Mid-Atlantic region and doing well in the MATCH Series, and it played out again when Woodford Racing’s Engage, fourth in his first start of the year in July at Saratoga Race Course, rallied from just off the pace under Joe Bravo to win the six-furlong event by a half-length over Bon Rasion in 1:11.48.
It was the first series start for Engage, a graded stakes winner last year.
Division leader Laki, owned by Hillside Equestrian Meadows, lost a bit of ground while wide on the far turn but kicked in late to pick up third.
The winner of the Frank Whiteley Stakes at Laurel Park in the first round of the series, Laki qualified for a chance at bonus money and now has 18 points.
The Uptowncharlybrown Stud full brothers Midnight Charly and MidtownCharlybrown finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the Bensalem.
MidtownCharlybrown who defeated Laki in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National, now has 11 points and Midnight Charly has eight.
They both have to start at Monmouth to qualify for bonus money, and given a couple division defections, it appears they would be assured bonus cash with a third start.
Trainer Damon Dilodovico didn’t race Laki, last year’s division champion, at Delaware Park because of a strangles situation, and then the gelding had a minor training setback.
The Bensalem marked his first ever start at Parx.
“He ran very well today,” Dilodovico said. “Watching him run, though, I think he might of just hated the track.”
LakiI last year finished third in his MATCH Series outing at Monmouth.
IN THE Sal DeBunda PTHA President’s Cup Stakes for 3-Year-Old & Up, Fillies and Mares, Long, Turf Division, Ballybrit Stable’s Dynatail is now two-for-two in MATCH competition this year, and trainer Michael Dini is looking forward to the final leg at Monmouth.
“That’s the plan,” said Dini, who is based at Monmouth. “I would have run her at Delaware after her victory in the Susquehanna Stakes at Penn National, but I didn’t want to take the chance of having her come back sick.”
Dynatail was sent to the front in the 1 1/16-mile PTHA President’s Cup under Chris DeCarlo and quickly met with pressure from Notapradaprice, winner of the G3 Dr. James Penny Memorial at Parx in her previous start.
The two put on a quite a show with a back-and-forth duel that ended with Dynatail a neck in front in 1:41.93 for the distance.
“They came to her early, but she wouldn’t let them by,” DeCarlo said.
Dynatail now has 20 points to lead her division.
Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Strifing, who was eighth in the PTHA President’s Cup, now has seven points and did qualify for a chance at bonus money.
The four MATCH stakes helped Parx Racing show phenomenal growth in total pari-mutuel handle on Labor Day, compared with the same day in 2018.
Parx reported total wagering on the day's races, seven of them stakes, $4,034,945, up 160 percent from $1,551,880 last year.
The four $100,000 MATCH Series stakes served as the lead-in to a pair of Grade III stakes, the Smarty Jones and Turf Monster, and a new stakes, the Cathryn Sophia.
The 2019 MATCH Series has been linked with big-event days at partner tracks for it first four of five legs.
When Monmouth Park hosts the championship leg Sept. 28, the four series stakes will be the focal point.
The MATCH Series offers a total of $375,000 in bonus money for owners and trainers of the top three horses in each division by points, with a minimum of three starts required.
That includes the $75,000 for the owner and trainer of the top horse by points across all divisions.
In addition, up to $40,000 in bonus money is available for the top Maryland-bred, New Jersey-bred, Pennsylvania-bred and Delaware Certified male and female runners by points if they qualify with three series starts.