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Harness Highlights: Pure Country Surprise Repeater in 'Crown

by Frank Carulli

November 7, 2017


Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter admits he did "a lot of struggling" this year with 2016 Breeders Crown champion Pure Country. But the struggle proved worth the fight as Pure Country emerged from a wild scramble down the Hoosier Park stretch to repeat as champion in the $250,000 Mare Pace recently. 

Pure Country rallied wide to win in 1:52.1 on a sloppy track after eight horses were fanned across with a winning shot. She paid $31 to win.

Lady Shadow set the pace to the 3/4-mile mark in 1:23.2 after she won an early battle with favorite Nike Franco N for the lead. But the demanding pace set the stage for Pure Country to out-kick runner-up Bedroomconfessions for a 1-1/2-length victory.

"I figured Lady Shadow would blast out of there from the outside and I had a couple of good ones inside of me to follow," said winning driver Mark MacDonald. "I kind of almost automatically was going to get a good trip and it turned out and she did.”

Pure Country has won only twice in 14 starts this season, but she's 24-45 lifetime and now a $2 million earner for owner Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Racing.

Takter, meanwhile, won his third Breeders Crown race of the night to boost his all-time record to 33 wins. A recap of the opening-night championships follows.

$500,000 3YO FILLY TROT: Speaking or repeat champions, the Takter-trained Ariana G (Yannick Gingras) joined Shake It Cerry as only trotting fillies since 2002 to win division titles at ages 2 and 3. And she did it in style, moving 3-wide to the lead before the half-mile marker and cruising to a 5-1/4-length score in 1:54.3 for co-owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. "I know she's a fantastic, exceptional, one-of-a-kind type filly," said Katz. "I just wanted her to perform well."

$500,000 3YO FILLY PACE: Emerald Highlands Farm's Blazin Britches ($12.20), the beaten favorite in last month's Jugette Stakes and in her Breeders Crown elimination heat, gained a measure of revenge on main rival Caviart Ally with a half-length win in 1:52.1. Trace Tetrick sent Blazin Britches after pace-setting favorite Agent Q near the half-mile marker and never looked back. Caviart Ally came out near the 3/4 mark but couldn't reach Blazin Britches, who improved to 11-15 this year for trainer Brian Brown.  

$500,000 2YO FILLIES TROT: Manchego ($3, Yannick Gingras) remained perfect in 12 starts with an easy 4-1/4-length victory in 1:54.4. She backed off an early battle with 6-to-5 second favorite Phaetosive, then pulled the pocket midway on the final turn to take command. Seviyorum rallied in mid-track to complete a $75 exacta. Jimmy Takter trains Manchego -- the first undefeated 2-year-old femalte trotter to win the Breeders Crown -- for owners Black Horse Racing, John Fielding and Herb Liverman.

$600,000 2YO FILLY PACE: W.J. Donovan's Youaremycandygirl (Yannick Gingras) lived up to 2-to-5 favoritism with a 4-1/2-length victory in 1:53.2. Youaremycandygirl controlled the pace throughout, edged away on the final turn and held safe as Majorsspeciallady rallied strongly to finish second. It was the first of three Crown victories for trainer Ron Burke.

$250,000 MARES TROT: Emoticon Hanover ($2.20, Daniel Dube) led a single-file alignment most of the way and defeated three rivals in 1:53.4. Caprice Hill angled out of the pocket in deep stretch but finished a half-length behind the winner. Luc Blais trains the sport's newest millionaire for owner Determination.