Drop The Ball has been something of a streaky performer throughout her career, but driverbelieves the 6-year-old pacing mare is on an upswing as she gets ready for Saturday's $177,750 Lady Liberty Stakes at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
The Lady Liberty, for older female pacers, is part of a stakes-filled Hambletonian Day card at the Big M. Among the other highlights are the $257,700 U.S. Pacing Championship for older pacers, $300,650 John Cashman Jr. Memorial for older trotters, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old female trotters, and the $1.2 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters.
Coverage of the card will air throughout the afternoon on TVG and from 4-5:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
Drop The Ball won last weekend's Lady Liberty elimination race by a half-length over Jerseylicious in 1:49.2 and with a victory in the final will join Burning Point as the only repeat winners of the event.
"She won it last year so we need to win it again," Callahan said about Drop The Ball, who is trained byfor owners Let It Ride Stables, Mentally Stable, and Dana Parham. "Sometimes you can tell [how good she will race] when you're scoring down, but she's really come back around her last few starts. I think Croghan is figuring her out and she's ready to go. She should be good next week, I hope."
For her career, Drop The Ball has won 24 of 59 races and earned $1.39 million. In addition to winning last year's Lady Liberty, she won the 2011 Mistletoe Shalee and Matron Stakes. She has twice finished second in each the Breeders Crown, Roses Are Red Stakes, and Golden Girls.
Drop The Ball won last year's Lady Liberty during a span of seven starts in which she posted five wins and two second-place finishes. She hit the board only once in eight other races during the campaign.
She began her career by winning her first four races, but then went without a victory in nine consecutive starts bridging her 2- and 3-year-old seasons. She finished her 3-year-old campaign by winning six times and finishing second twice over her final nine starts.
Drop The Ball entered the Lady Liberty elimination off a second-place finish to Rocklamation in the Golden Girls on July 12.
"She was very good in that race," Callahan said. "I had too much road traffic. I ended up third over behind a horse that was stalling and had too much ground to make up."
In last weekend's Lady Liberty elim, Drop The Ball started from post eight and went to the front on the first turn before briefly yielding the top spot to Shelliscape on the backstretch. Callahan and Drop The Ball immediately retook the lead, but saw Shebestingin come calling heading into the final turn. Drop The Ball fought off her challenge and led the rest of the way.
"We figured if she was OK, we were going to push off the gate and try to get her in play," Callahan said. "A couple of those horses that like to go down the road, like Anndrovette, drew outside, so it was a good night to try it."
Following is the Lady Liberty field in alphabetical order. The draw for the race will be Tuesday, with Drop The Ball's connections getting to select post position. Rocklamation received a bye to the final.
Aunt Caroline, Charisma Hanover, Drop The Ball, Jerseylicious, Krispy Apple, Matttie Terror Girl, Rocklamation, Shebestingin, Shelliscape, and Somwherovrarainbow.
by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications