Artful Splatter
Artful Splatter won the 2020 Geisha Stakes at Laurel Park. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

The Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) Series returns to Laurel Park Nov. 13 with the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes, the next to last leg in the Filly and Mare Long–Dirt division for 2021.

The MATCH event joins two other $100,000 stakes–the James F. Lewis III for 2-year-olds and the Smart Halo for 2-year-old fillies–on the Saturday program. The Thirty Eight Go Go at 1 1/16 miles is the eighth of nine races.

Six of the nine entrants competed in the Sept. 18 Twixt Stakes, fourth leg of the division, at Laurel. Dreamalildreamofu finished a head in front of Artful Splatter, who returns in the Thirty Eight Go Go and would qualify for MATCH Series bonus money for owners and trainers with her third series start.

Owned by James Wolf, Artful Splatter, a 5-year-old Maryland-bred mare by Bandbox, has won eight races, seven of them on the dirt at Laurel. She led until the final jump in the one-mile Twixt after a seventh-place finish in a turf stakes, and in her last start finished seventh in the Maryland Million Ladies.

“She came out of her last race great, and we’re hoping for the turf-back-to-dirt angle, which worked last time in the Twixt,” trainer Kieron Magee said. “She did draw the outside post position but she is able to sit and work out a trip. She doesn’t need to be front every time.”

Carlos Lopez., who has ridden Artful Splatter in her last three starts, is named to ride again.

With two division legs remaining, stakes winner Artful Splatter is tied for second in the standings with three other fillies and mares, each with 10 points, behind division leader Dreamalildreamofu (17 points), who is entered to sell Nov. 12 in the Keeneland November sale. The other three with 10 points each have only one MATCH Series start and aren’t entered in the Thirty Eight Go Go, so they cannot qualify for bonus money, while Dreamalildreamofu must race in the final leg at Laurel Dec. 26 to qualify for bonus money.

KatieRich Farms’ Josie, a close third in the Twixt, returns to Maryland in search of her second stakes victory for trainer Steve Asmussen. Josie, a 4-year-old filly by Race Day, won the Iowa Distaff Stakes in early July and has won five races overall. Feargal Lynch has the call.

BB Horses’ Miss Leslie, fourth in the Twixt, is a multiple stakes winner in Maryland who got back on the winning track last time out with an easy last-to-first score in an upper-level allowance event at Delaware Park for trainer Claudio Gonzalez. The second- and third-place finishers in the Delaware race, Trolley Ride and Villanelle, also are entered in the Thirty Eight Go Go for trainers Bernard Houghton and Mike Trombetta, respectively.

Miss Leslie will be ridden by Angel Cruz. The 3-year-old Paynter filly has done her best work this year going two turns.

Laurel will host the $100,000 Richard Small Stakes (3-Year-Olds and Up Long–Dirt division) Nov. 27 before the MATCH Series ends Dec. 26 at Laurel with stakes in all four divisions.

MATCH Series bonus money is awarded to the owner and trainer of the top three horses by points in each division: $20,000/$10,000 for first, $15,000/$7,500 for second, and $7,500/$3,000 for third. In addition, the owner and trainer of the overall points-earner regardless of division will receive $20,000 and $10,000, respectively.

MATCH Series divisional standings

Division leader Dreamalildreamofu (17 points) is not entered in the Thirty Eight Go Go, but Artful Splatter, second on the leaderboard with 10 points, and five others are. Here are their point totals:

  • Artful Splatter: 10 points, tied for second
  • Josie: 5 points
  • Miss Leslie: 3 points
  • Lookin Dynamic: 1 point
  • Off Topic: 1 point
  • Villanelle: 1 point