by Frank Carulli
January 2, 2018
Diamond Creek Racing's Pure Country didn't enjoy her usual success in 2017, but the multi-millionaire won when it mattered most. She rallied wide and emerged from a wild stretch scramble in the $250,000 Breeders Crown Mare Pace to spring a 15-to-1 upset that cemented her place in harness racing history.
With that victory, Pure Country swayed the U.S. Harness Writers Association enough to name her Older Female Pacer of the Year. In doing so, the Jimmy Takter-trainee became only the second pacer in 45 years to win three consecutive Dan Patch Awards. Jenna's Beach Boy also earned divisional honors at ages 2, 3 and 4 from 1994-96.
Pure Country was 2-for-14 heading into the Breeders Crown but finished the year with five wins and $461,168 in earnings. She and five other champion pacers will be honored at the Dan Patch Awards banquet Feb. 25 in Orlando.
Brian Brown trained both champion 3-year-old pacers -- Downbytheseaside and Blazin Britches.
Downbytheseaside won four stakes worth at least $300,000 -- the Messenger, Progress, Carl Milstein Memorial and Art Rooney Pace -- to lead the sport with $1.6 million in earnings. He is co-woned by Contry Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo and Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Racing.
Emerald Highlands Farm's Blazin Britches won the $500,000 Breeders Crown by a half-length in 1:52.1, paving the way to victory in the closest divisional race. She defeated runner-up Agent Q by 14 votes from 131 ballots cast.
Nine horses received votes in the Older Male Pacer division, with 9-year-old Keystone Velocity emerging as the Dan Patch winner. Keystone Velocity won the $529,000 Levy Championship and $500,000 Ben Franklin for co-owners Allard Racing, Kapildeo Singh, Earl Hill Jr. and VIP Internet Stable.
In the 2-year-old division, Lost In Time and record-setting Youaremycandygirl earned top honors.
Lost In Time, trained most of the year by Jim Mulinix, won the $660,960 Metro Pace and $411,700 Governor's Cup en route to a 5-for-9 season with $608,112 in earnings. He is owned b A Rocknroll Dance Racing, Denny Miller, William Rufenacht and Team S Racing Stable.
Youaremycandygirl was a runaway winner after she paced an all-time best 1:50 in the International Stallion Stakes at Lexington. She closed with seven consecutive wins, including the $600,000 Breeders Crown 2YO Female Pace for trainer Ron Burke and owner Bill Donovan.