05/23/2014 7:42PM

Harrah's Philly: Drop The Ball ready for Betsy Ross

Lisa Photo
Drop The Ball won the Mistletoe Shalee final in 2011 and has been a top older pacing mare for years.

Though the record books may not show it, there are few mares in the sport’s history with more speed than Drop The Ball. The six-year-old by Western Terror has been involved in some of the fastest miles for pacing fillies and mares, but at times has dropped the ball and not gotten the job done. On Sunday afternoon she’ll get another chance at fame and fortune in the $250,000 Betsy Ross at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

The fact that the Ross Croghan-trained mare is even in the race is mind-boggling.

“Her two qualifiers weren’t good at all and her first two races were bad,” said Croghan.

The trainer claims to have gone back to the drawing board after Drop The Ball’s fourth-place finish at the Meadowlands on May 9.

“We found a few spots and we worked on them,” said Croghan.


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On May 16 over a very soggy surface at the Meadowlands, Corey Callahan launched the $1.3 million winner from post seven and she clicked off a 1:49 1/5 mile that could easily have been two seconds faster under ideal conditions.

“I knew before the race that she was back to her old self,” said Croghan.

Drop The Ball has been somewhat of a freak from the start. In her two-year-old season she captured the 2010 Countess Adios at the Meadowlands in an unheard of 1:50 4/5 mile.

“There aren’t many mares that have gone that fast at two and are still doing it at six,” said Croghan.

On Sunday, Drop The Ball faces a rock-solid field of rivals in the Betsy Ross. She’s drawn the rail and will once again have Callahan in the sulky.

There have been times in the past that Drop The Ball could act funny behind the gate, but Croghan thinks the rail won’t be an issue on Sunday.

“We must have trained her 60 miles this winter behind the gate. There were times where she would make breaks but I think she’s over that,” Croghan said.

Drop The Ball meets a star-studded group in Sunday’s 12th race at Harrah’s including world champion Shebestingin. The two mares have not met in a race but may be seeing eye-to-eye in the Ross.

Shebestingin took her world record of 1:47 last year at Lexington’s Red Mile, but her path to victory this Sunday was likely made more difficult with the draw of post eight. The Joe Holloway-trained mare, herself at times a handful behind the gate, has won two of three starts this year. With regular pilot Dave Miller in Sweden, John Campbell has the assignment.

The $2.6 million winning Anndrovette (post five), third in the 2012 edition of the Betsy Ross, has had a slow start to her 2014 campaign. A winner just once in six tries for trainer P J Fraley, the veteran mare may be able to stretch her legs on the five-eighths mile track after six straight weeks at Yonkers for the Blue Chip Matchmaker, a series she finished fourth in.

Yagonnakissmeornot was one of the stars in the Blue Chip Matchmaker for trainer Rene Allard. The Dan Dube-driven mare has finished first or second in 12 of her 13 starts this year but will have her work cut out from post seven.

With Callahan opting for Drop The Ball, Ron Pierce moves into the sulky behind Jerseylicious, a four-year-old that defeated Shebestingin in her last start. The pair will get underway from post three.

Rocklamation, a runner-up in the Betsy Ross to Economy Terror a year ago, looks for just her second win of the season for the Burke stable. The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover landed post two with Matt Kakaley in the bike. Rocklamation, a career earner of $1.8 million, has upset potential.

Rounding out the field are Monkey On My Wheel (post four) and J K Letitgo (post six).

Croghan appears to believe that his mare is unique in this field.

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“She’s the only one that can knock out a big mile on her own,” said Croghan, who reflected on evidence of that ability, “Just look at last year’s Lady Liberty. She was parked the entire mile and still won in 1:49.”

It’s likely going to take a very big mile to win the Betsy Ross on Sunday—the “Ball” is in Croghan’s court.