'Forth' wins, but 'Dan' wins big MATCH honors elude All Along Stakes victor

October 05, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

H. Graham Motion hadn't planned on being at Laurel Park at 10 p.m. on Saturday.

But after Bursting Forth won the All Along Stakes earlier in the day at Colonial Downs, Motion, a Maryland trainer, had to see whether his filly would win the lucrative top prize of MATCH (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships).

The only way Bursting Forth could lose was if Buffalo Dan, a 7-year-old sprinter, won the Mario Beneito Memorial Handicap at Penn National. Motion stood in front of a TV and watched the late-night simulcast.

"I wish I hadn't," he said the next morning.

Buffalo Dan not only won, but tied the track's six-furlong record, capturing the overall championship and earning rich bonuses for his owner, Steve Belkin, and trainer, William Perry.

Belkin, a Boston businessman who operates B. E. Stable, collected $100,000 because Buffalo Dan earned the most points and another $20,000 because the gelding won his division. Perry, based at Monmouth Park, picked up $40,000 and another $15,000.

Motion settled for second-place money, a combined $35,000, and Sam Huff, the Hall of Fame football player who owns Bursting Forth, earned $55,000.

MATCH is a series of 35 stakes in five divisions at tracks throughout the mid-Atlantic. Horses earn points depending on where they finish in the races. The stakes carried purses totaling $3.6 million. On top of that, owners and trainers collected bonuses of nearly $600,000 depending on how many points their horses earned.

Like last year, MATCH came down to the final night after nearly six months of competition.

Motion and Huff, who lives in West Virginia, said yesterday that they weren't overly disappointed with the outcome because Busting Forth had run extremely well all year and, in Huff's words, "did everything we asked of her."

Huff said his only disappointment was that Bursting Forth missed a MATCH race at the Meadowlands two weeks ago. Motion scratched the filly because of a mix-up over the use of the drug clenbuterol. It might have cost the championship.

Then again, Motion said, "In hindsight, maybe the fact she didn't have that tough race meant she was that much better for the All

Along. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise."

Pub Date: 10/05/98

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