By Ken Weingartner
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – August 5, 2017 – Pure Country faced pressure for the final quarter-mile from Nike Franco N but fended off the challenge to win Saturday’s $200,400 Lady Liberty Stakes for older female pacers by a head in 1:50 at the Meadowlands.
Nike Franco N was second and fast-closing Penpal finished third.
Shesjustadelight N led the field to the first quarter in 27.2 before Pure Country made a move on the backstretch and claimed the lead at the half, which was reached in 55.2. Nike Franco N started a first-over drive prior to three-quarters and was alongside Pure Country when they hit the marker in 1:22.2.
The two mares raced side-by-side the rest of the way, with Pure Country putting her head in front at the wire.
“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 first 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.”
Pure Country, a Dan Patch Award winner at ages 2 and 3, won for the first time in seven races this year, although she had three second-place finishes.
“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.
“This filly fits Mark’s style. He drove a great race. I was very happy for Mark.”
Pure Country is owned by Diamond Creek Racing. She has won 21 of 38 career races and earned $1.9 million.
Pure Country paid $10.40, $3.20 and $2.60. Nike Franco N, the 2-5 favorite, paid $2.10 and $2.10. Penpal paid $3.20.