08/05/2017 5:45PM

Meadowlands: Pure Country snaps drought in Lady Liberty

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Nikki Sherman
Pure Country capped off another big Hambletonian Day for trainer Jimmy Takter

Pure Country, a Dan Patch Award winner at two and three, won her first race of her 4-year-old campaign, digging in late and coming back to narrowly defeat favorite Nike Franco N in the $200,400 Lady Liberty for pacing mares on Saturday at the Meadowlands,  The final time was 1:50 flat.

Longshot She'sjustadelight N (Ron Cushing) led at the 27 2/5 opening quarter, but Pure Country (Mark MacDonald) moved out of third to take the lead before the 55 2/5 half went up on the teletimer.

3-5 favorite Nike Franco N (Tim Tetrick) would go on the attack first-over on the final turn, joining Pure Country at the 1:22 2/5 three-quarters and appearing to take a narrow lead in the lane.  Pure Country wasn't done, though, fighting back inside the final sixteenth to ultimately win by a head over Nike Franco N.  Penpal (Pat Lachance), who was last turning for home, was up for third.

"A big headwind picked up there the last couple of races.  That was really a brave and courageous effort down the stretch," said MacDonald.  "Halfway down the stretch Nike Franco had her headed, but she's just so game and gutsy.  She dug back in right down to the wire, stuck her head out, and got there for me."

It was the fifth winner of the day for trainer Jimmy Takter, who conditions the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere for owner/breeder Diamond Creek Farm.  This was her 21st career victory, and she has now earned $1,909,911.  Dispatched at 4-1, Pure Country returned $10.40 to win.

"She's a fantastic filly," said Takter.  "We ran into a lot of problems with her.  She got sick and stuff like that, and we thought we had her healthy.  I qualified her myself in 1:48, and she was really good that day.  Brett Miller (who had driven Pure Country throughout her career), I've got to thank him.  He's such a class guy.  He said, 'Jimmy I've driven a lot of horses, and after awhile they get smart on me, so try somebody else.'  This filly fits Mark's style.  He's not shy to give her the respect she deserves.  Mark drove a great, great race, and it's so nice for him to win a race on this day."