The 2017 edition of the Betsy Ross Mares Pacing Invitational features a classy group of aged distaffers, as they vie for a $150,000 purse on Sunday, May 28 at Harrah's Philadelphia.
The race features the first-ever meeting between award-winning pacing mares Pure Country and dominant older mare Lady Shadow.
Pure Country, who finished second in her four-year-old debut last start at Yonkers, won 10 races of 21 starts a year ago, with earnings over $1 million. It was good enough for a Dan Patch Award for best three-year-old pacing filly. The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Western Montana was also a Breeders Crown Champion at age two, capping an undefeated season and divisional honours. Originally, her four-year-old debut was set for the Chip Noble Memorial at Miami Valley, but was unable to compete due to sickness. Pure Country will start from Post 2 on Sunday.
Lady Shadow wasted little time continuing her dominance in 2017. The multiple O'Brien Award winner equaled the track record in 1:50.3 at Miami Valley in her seasonal debut in the Chip Noble Memorial. The six-year-old daughter of Shadow Play-Lady Camella ended last year's season by winning the Breeders Crown and the TVG Free For All for mares in impressive fashion. In her career, she has won 29 of 56 races with earnings over $1.6 million. She draws Post 7 for Sunday's affair.
Drawing post 1 is another millionaire mare, Sassa Hanover. The five-year-old daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven had a big three-year-old season, including victories in the Jugette and Courageous Lady among others. Her four-year-old season was a bit of a disappointment; however, she closed the season strong with door-knocking efforts against Lady Shadow to close out the campaign. She is making her third start of the season for trainer Ron Burke.
Richard Poillucci's Nike Franco N starts from Post 3. The seven-year-old New Zealander was a multiple Group One winner downunder before coming to North America in August of last year. She was seven of 14 in the win column in 2016 and all ready has two wins this season.
Another product of Australasia, Mackenzie A will start from Post 4. The five-year-old daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven won eight times before coming stateside, including the Group 2 Alabar NSW Breeders Challenge Stakes for three-year-old fillies. The Peter Tritton pupil made her North American debut at Yonkers in February, and she's coming in off of a win in the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series Final at Yonkers.
Randy Bendis and Tom Pollack's Medusa will start from Post 5. The second-place finisher in the Blue Chip Matchmaker will look to add to her sizable win total, boasting 28 victories in 81 career starts. The six-year-old daughter of Bettors Delight-Mythical has victories over many of these mares throughout her career.
Emilio and Maria Rosati's Blue Moon Stride will start from Post 7. The four-year-old daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Classic Star broke through in last year's Mistletoe Shalee at The Meadowlands with an eye-opening 1:49.2 performance. The New Jersey Sire Stakes Standout is making her fourth start of the season.
The ultra-sharp Cousin Mary will start from Post 8. The four-year-old daughter of Camluck-Chianti Seelster swept the Bobby Weiss Series at Pocono after completing the sweep of the Petticoat Series at Yonkers earlier this year. She has won 11 of 13 starts thus far at four, with her latest appearance a qualifier over the Harrah's Philly oval. She paced the last half in an effortless :56, completing her mile in 1:54.1.
The Betsy Ross is part of an all-star card coming up on Sunday, May 28 at Harrah's Philadelphia. The Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational for aged trotters and the Ben Stafford Jr. Memorial for aged pacers are also on the program. Post Time is 12:40 p.m.
(with files from Harrah's Philadelphia)