02/26/2002 1:00AM

MATCH series future in question

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The Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship Series, the five-division stakes race series known as MATCH, is currently being threatened by disputes between horsemen and racetracks in New Jersey and Maryland, the founder of MATCH said Tuesday.

The disputes, which center on purses and racing dates, could put the series on hiatus in 2002, said Alan Foreman, the MATCH founder and chairman of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. Foreman said he is hopeful that horsemen and tracks from the mid-Atlantic states can sit down to begin hammering out a schedule next week.

"It obviously has to look different, considering we have purse reductions and eliminations in Maryland and we still don't know what the racing dates are going to be in New Jersey," Foreman said. "It's going to be important to map out a schedule that is good for horsemen, racing fans, and racetracks."

MATCH was founded in the late 1990's as an enticement for jockeys, trainers, and owners to keep their more successful horses on the mid-Atlantic circuit. The series awards cash bonuses to horsemen and jockeys based on points earned in six races in five divisions, usually in ungraded stakes or Grade 3 events.