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‘DIAMOND’ SHINES, ‘COUNTRY’ PURE IN BIG M CO-FEATURES

Friday, November 16, 2018

Muscle Diamond and Pure Country lived up to their billing as post-time favorites in taking the co-features at the Meadowlands Friday night.
Driver Andy McCarthy, whose three winners on the night upped his meet-leading total to 17, guided Muscle Diamond to victory in the $20,000 Preferred Handicap for trotters. The trip wasn’t an easy one, but the Brett Bittle trainee was up for the challenge.
Racing sixth past the quarter, McCarthy tipped the 6-year-old son of Muscle Hill-Windylane Hanover to the outside as they began their march toward the leader, who was 2015 Hambletonian champion (and 5-2 second choice) Pinkman.
Muscle Diamond chipped away at the leader’s edge around the far turn and was on even terms with that foe with an eighth of a mile to go before drawing clear to a three-quarter length win in 1:52.4. Will Take Charge rallied to gun down Pinkman for the place spot.
As the 3-5 public choice, Muscle Diamond returned $3.20 to his backers in winning his fourth straight.
Pure Country, the winner of the 2017 TVG Mare Pace, gave notice that a repeat might be coming next week as she won the co-featured $20,000 Preferred Handicap for pacing fillies and mares in 1:51. Monica Gallagher was second with her entry mate, Windsun Glory, third.
The Jimmy Takter-trained Pure Country was put in the four hole early by driver Yannick Gingras and opted to stay there until swinging to the outside at the five-eighths. Shortly thereafter, Monica Gallagher popped out of the two hole, providing live – albeit short-lived – cover for the eventual winner.
Through the stretch, Monica Gallagher was determined, but so was the even-money public choice Pure Country, who gunned down that foe nearing the wire, notching a pulse-pounding head score.
Pure Country, a 5-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere-Western Montana, returned $4.20 to win. She has now won 27 of 62 lifetime starts and earned $2,418,249.
A LITTLE MORE: One lucky simulcast player wagering into the Oregon hub was the only bettor to last six races – and was the lone winner – in the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 and walked away with $12,326. … The 50-Cent Pick-5 came back $1,174, a healthy payout when you consider the odds of the winning horses in the sequence were 2-1, 5-2, 3-1, 3-5 and 18-1. The 18-1 shot was listed at 4-1 on the morning line. … All-source handle on the 11-race card was $1,966,181. … Racing resumes Saturday night at 7:15 p.m. Horse of the Year favorite McWicked will prep for next week’s TVG Open Pace by racing in the $20,000 Preferred Handicap.


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