Winless in six straight starts for the first time in her award-winning career, Pure Country finally clicked for her first win as an older competitor in the $200,400 Lady Liberty TVG Free-For-All for older pacing mares.
A handful of mares were in contention early to vie for command, with Call Me Queen Be (Scott Zeron) the swiftest of those. Shesjustadelight N (Ron Cushing) paid no attention to the 65-1 odds and forged on to the front just past the :27.2 opener. Mark MacDonald wasn't content to sit with Pure Country and right-lined his charge to bid for the lead.
Pure Country landed on top as the field hit the :55.2 half, and she faced an immediate threat with favoured Nike Franco N (Tim Tetrick) out and gunning. Those two mares engaged in a near half-mile catfight through a 1:22.2 third station and virtually all the way down the stretch with neither star giving in. In deep stretch, Pure Country battled back and hit the wire a quarter-length the best in 1:50. Penpal (Pat Lachance) was flat-out flying down the stretch and finished just back of the top two.
“She’s a really good mare, I’m very fortunate to pick up the drive,” said winning driver Mark MacDonald, who sat behind Pure Country for the second time in her career. “That was a really brave, courageous effort down the stretch to fight off (Nike Franco N). She was actually beat. Halfway down the stretch Nike Franco had her headed. She’s just so game and gutsy that she dug back in and stuck her head out and got there for me.”
Owned by breeder Diamond Creek Racing of Wellsville, Penn., Pure Country (Somebeachsomewhere - Western Montana) now boasts 21 wins in 38 lifetime starts and surpasses the $2 million mark in earnings. The win capped a five-win day for trainer Jimmy Takter.
“She’s a fantastic filly,” winning trainer Jimmy Takter said. “We ran into a lot of problems with her. She got sick and stuff like that.”
Takter credited former driver Brett Miller for suggesting a driver change.
“He’s such a class guy,” Takter said of Miller. “This filly fits Mark’s style. He drove a great race. I was very happy for Mark.”
Stay tuned with all the happenings on Hambletonian Day with updates posted in the 2017 Hambletonian Day News Centre.