MATCH Series returns with new format for 2019

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Jan. 20, 2019

After a celebrated and highly successful return to the racing calendar last year last after 16 years on the shelf, the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) Series in 2019 will feature a new look designed to encourage more participation from horsemen, focus on big-event days at tracks, and make it easier for the racing public to follow the series.

Purses this year will total $2 million, while up to $375,000 in bonus money is available for owners and trainers. In addition, up to $40,000 will be offered by breed organizations.

Racetracks and horsemen’s groups involved in the MATCH Series this year opted to have each partner track—there are five for 2019—hold one race in each division on one day. With four divisions this year, there will 20 stakes in the series spread over five days from late April through late September.

The 2019 schedule is as follows: Laurel Park (April 20), Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course (June 1), Delaware Park (July 13), Parx Racing (Sept. 2) and Monmouth Park (Sept. 28).

In 2018 MATCH events over five divisions were held on 14 different days. As part of a regular review of the series, stakeholders decided to go with four divisions in 2019: 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint—Dirt Division, 3-Year-Olds and Up Sprint—Turf Division, Fillies and Mares Sprint—Dirt Division, and Fillies and Mares Long—Turf Division.

Partners also agreed to not use graded stakes in the series and set the purse for each of the 20 stakes at $100,000. The schedule came about through a cooperative approach in order to further strengthen the scheduling of races in the Mid-Atlantic region but also protect existing major races and race days at partner tracks.

“We were thrilled by the successful return of the MATCH Series in 2018,” said Alan Foreman, creator of the MATCH Series and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “Despite the most challenging weather conditions in Mid-Atlantic history, the series exceeded all of our expectations and we are proud and excited to bring it back. We learned a lot in our return last year and have tried to make changes that are the product of numerous conversations with series participants, horsemen, track management and fans.

“We think the 2019 series will be a credit to Mid-Atlantic racing and generate tremendous interest and enthusiasm throughout the racing industry. MATCH is an enormous undertaking and the remarkable collaborative effort of all of the MATCH partners is unprecedented in the industry.”

Along with the five tracks, partner horsemen’s groups are the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. All of the 2019 stakeholders were MATCH partners last year and for all or part of the series when it first ran from 1997-2001.

Breed organizations will again offer bonuses for the respective state-bred top male and female (each $5,000) by total points earned in the MATCH Series regardless of division. The groups offering the incentive this year are the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, Thoroughbred Breeders Association of New Jersey, Maryland Horse Breeders Association and the Delaware Certified Thoroughbred Program.

Bonus money for each division will total $75,000, which is awarded based on top-three finishes. Owners are eligible for $20,000, $15,000 and $10,000, respectively, while trainers will compete for $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000. The owner of the horse that accumulates the most points across all divisions will earn $50,000 on top of the divisional bonus, and the trainer will receive $25,000.

In 2018 Sycamore Racing V’s Jessica Krupnick, trained by Francis “Tres” Abbott III, captured the Filly and Mare Sprint—Dirt Division as well as the overall championship by competing in four of five stakes in her division. Her connections collected $110,000 in bonus money.

Information related to the MATCH Series is available at the series website, which has been reformatted to include an archive of the 2018 series. The website will be updated over the next couple of months with additional series details in advance of the April 20 kickoff in Maryland.

The complete MATCH Series schedule is available here.