By John Furgele
Little Brown Jug day at the Delaware County (Ohio) Fair on Thursday will be crowded in several ways – 13 pacers are entered creating two elimination heats that lead to the final, and attendance that could reach 40,000.
The five-day Grand Circuit stop at this half-mile oval is considered one of the top weeks in harness racing. capped by one of pacing’s most popular races for 3-year-olds.
The female version of the Jug, which carries a purse of nearly $400,000, is the Jugette for 3-year-old fillies set for Wednesday.
In the Jug, the first four finishers from each heat qualify for the final. The first elim has a field of seven, with the 2-1 morning-line favorite.
The Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ is trained by Ron Burke and will be driven by Yannick Gingras – two of the best in the business.
In the second elim, Perfect Sting drew post 6 in the six-horse field. Unbeaten in 2020 as a 2-year-old (and named Pacer of the Year), Perfect Sting is 4-5-1 from 10 starts in 2021, but has yet to come through in a big race.
He was second in four top events this year: the North America Cup, the Meadowlands Pace; the Max Hempt Memorial, and Cane Pace.
To me, he’s too good to finish second again. The field is good one for the Jug, but not as good as some of his runner-up finishes. That tells me that his class will show in the final, set for 6:30 p.m. ET.
In the final, I’ll go with Whichwaytothebeach second and Lou’s Pearlman third. It’s a bit tricky, of course, because each horse still must qualify but these three are the class of the field.
Attendance was limited in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Little Brown Jug (1st elimination heat), with post position, horse, driver, trainer odds:
- Borntobeshameless (Dan Noble, Christi Noble), 9-2
- Lou’s Pearlman (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke), 2-1
- Simon Says Hanover (Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna), 12-1
- Mysweetboymax (Aaron Merriman, Sam DePinto), 6-1
- Whichwaytothebeach (Andrew McCarthy, Brett Pelling), 3-1
- Always A Miki (Dexter Dunn, Nancy Takter), 10-1
- Town Gossip (Joe Bongiorno, Jen Bongiorno), 8-1
Little Brown Jug (2nd elimination heat), with post position, horse, driver, trainer, odds
- Rockyroad Hanover (Dexter Dunn, Tony Alagna), 7-2
- American Courage (Matt Kakaley, Travis Alexander), 6-1
- I’ll Drink To That (Tim Tetrick, Chris Ryder), 4-1
- Water Sports Teen (Joe Bongiorno, Jen Bongiorno), 8-1
- Bayfield Beach (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke), 12-1
- Perfect Sting (David Miller, Joe Holloway), 2-1
The Jugette drew 10 entries – two five-filly elims to pare down to a final eight. To me, this is Test of Faith’s race to lose. She has checked all the boxes: 18 starts, 16 wins and $914,050 in earnings. She’s coming off a big win in the $200,000 New York Sire Stakes championships at Yonkers, so she should have no issues with the half-mile for trainer Brett Pelling.