With the highly popular MATCH Series being postponed last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year it returns under a two-state system of Maryland and Virginia racetracks.
Put together by Maryland and Virginian horsemen and race tracks this 2021 Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships bridges the gap until MATCH Series is full-restored in 2022.
In being the only one of its kind in racing, the Series will run from 14 May at Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland through 26 December, Boxing Day, at Laurel Park, and will feature 24 stakes races.
Twenty stakes races will be run in Maryland and four at Colonial Downs in Virginia, valued at $2.7 million, and will be run in four divisions, all on dirt, with $282,000 in bonus money.
In being shelved for 16 years the MATCH Series returned in 2019, to its most successful year ever, and it was agreed to run all divisional events on one day to create big-event days.
The original 2020 schedule was to include Colonial Downs and Charlestown but was postponed due to the COVID pandemic, and similar concerns caused suspend planning for 2021.
However, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club offered to run a 2021 Series at Laurel and Pimlico, along with Colonial Downs and Virginia HBPA.
“This should be a really fun and competitive Series,” said MATCH creator Alan M. Foreman, “and a tremendous demonstration of support and cooperation by Maryland and Virginia.”
“I am deeply appreciative of these Maryland and Virginia horsemen and racetracks in their desire to maintain the MATCH brand through these difficult times for racing.”
In support MTHA Executive Director David Richardson stated “we are thrilled to join with our friends in Virginia to renew this innovative concept for 2021, moving onto 2022.”
“With the goal of a full rebirth in 2022, Maryland’s horsemen have always believed in the vision of MATCH and been enthusiastic supporters of the Series from day one.”
Again, the MATCH series will comprise six races in each of the four divisions comprising the:
3-Year-Olds and Upwards Sprint of 6 to 7 furlongs on Dirt for Fillies and Mares;
3-Year-Olds and Upwards Sprint of 6 to 7 furlongs on Dirt;
3-Year-Olds and Upwards Long of 1m to 1 1/8m on Dirt for Fillies and Mares;
3-Year-Olds and Upwards Long of 1m to 1 3/16 m on Dirt.
Racing will commence on 14 May at Pimlico with the Gr3 Pimlico Special of 1 3/16m for 3yo & Up Long, and the Gr3 Allaire Dupont Stakes of 1m for 3yo & Up Fillies & Mares Long.
The Gr3 Maryland Sprint Hcp and Skipat Stakes, both over 6f, follow at Pimlico on 15 May, with the Series moving to Laurel Park for six events in June and July, and then Colonial Downs.
At Colonial Downs on 23 August, it’s the Chesapeake Stakes 6f, the Victory Gallop Stakes 1 1/16m, and for the fillies and mares the Seeking The Pearl Stakes 7f and Love Sign Stakes of 1 1/16m.
In returning to Laurel Park on 18 September, it’s Boxing Day that closes MATCH 2021 with the Dave’s Friend Stakes of 6f and Native Dancer Stakes 1 1/16m, and for fillies and mares the Willa On The Move Stakes 6f and Carousel Stakes at 1 1/8m.
In Colonial Downs being an original partner in the MATCH Series commencing in 1997, it participated until the Series was discontinued in 2001, and had signed-on for 2021.
In expressing his pleasure, Virginia HBPA executive director Frank Petramalo stated “we’re happy to join Maryland in preserving the Series for 2021 and bringing back the full Series in 2022.”
However, it’s Jill Byrne, Director of Racing for Colonial Downs who expressed ‘it’s an excellent opportunity for horsemen to participate in a schedule of quality stakes racing on the dirt.’
“Colonial Downs has a phenomenal 1¼-mile main track that we look forward to showcasing through this collaboration with Maryland racing.”
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