MATCH Series Star of the Week: Switzerland
Switzerland. Photo by Dottie Miller.
by Frank Vespe
Preakness weekend at Pimlico Race Course was also opening weekend for the 2018 renewal of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) Series of races, and four MATCH races were contested.
The four winners were Imprimis in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint; Vertical Oak in the Skipat Stakes; Girls Know Best in The Very One Stakes, a sprint that was taken off the turf; and Switzerland, winner of the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Stakes.
The last of those, Switzerland, receives our first MATCH Series Star of the Week. The MATCH Series Star of the Week is chosen by The Racing Biz, in conjuction with MATCH.
Racing on a foggy Saturday over a sloppy, sealed main track, Switzerland, the second choice in the field of nine older sprinters, delivered an impressive 3 1/2-length victory in a solid 1:09.43 for six furlongs.
Switzerland, under Ricardo Santana, Jr., was second early, pressing the pace of Red Dragon Tattoo through an opening quarter-mile in a moderate 22.94 seconds, just a half-length behind.
“I think the key to today’s race was him being able to get away with going 22 4/5 the first quarter,” winning trainer Steve Asmussen said.
Switzerland had a one-length lead after a half-mile in 45.69 seconds, and from there, it was all over but the shouting. Switzerland steamed home well clear of favorite Long Haul Bay.
“I wasn’t worried [in the lane] because I knew I had a lot of horse,” Santana said. “I was just waiting to turn for home to ask my horse. When I asked him, he gave it to me, the kick.”
Switzerland, owned by Woodford Racing LLC, entered 2018 a maiden after seven career starts. But he’s four-for-four thus far this year, now including his first graded stakes score. He began the year in Chad Brown’s barn before being transferred to Asmussen.
“I think with a win in a race like this, we will regroup and see what’s out there for older sprint horses and take a big swing,” Asmussen said.
Switzerland is a four-year-old Speightstown colt out of the multiple graded stakes-placed Indian Charlie mare Czechers. He was bred in Kentucky by Branch Family Trust.
- RACE RECORD 11-4-2-3, earnings of $273,380
- TRAINER Steve Asmussen
- OWNER Woodford Racing LLC
- BREEDING Speightstown-Czechers, by Indian Charlie
- BREEDER Bred in Kentucky by Branch Family Trust
- CAREER HIGHLIGHTS Won G3 Maryland Sprint Stakes, has won four consecutive races