The 66th renewal of the $526,800 Little Brown Jug the middle leg of the Triple Crown of Pacing, was contested on Thursday afternoon over the half-mile oval at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio. In contrast with the rain-soaked Wednesday for the Jugette, participants and spectators enjoyed partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the 70s, with a fast track. Twelve 3-year-olds entered the two heats, carded as races 14 and 15, with the top 4 finishers in the heats making the final.
In the first heat, 3-10 favorite Big Bad John was sent to the lead immediately by driver David Miller, and although parked wide on the first lap, was able to lead at every call and held off 20-1 Something for Doc by 3/4 length in 1:50 2/5. It was another 2 lengths back to 34-1 longest shot High Noon third, and 3/4 more to Foreclosure N fourth. In the second heat, 3-2 favorite Roll With Joe battled with 8-5 second choice Betterthancheddar to his inside on the first lap. On the second lap, 7-1 Hugadragon moved up to challenge, but tired late, as Roll with Joe held off the re-rallying Betterthancheddar by 1/4 length in 1:50 2/5. It was another 2 lengths back to 34-1 longest shot Rollwithitharry third. Hugadragon finished fourth but was disqualified for interference and moved back to 5th, moving 5-2 third choice Up the Credit to fourth and into the final.
In the final, Heat 1 winner Big Bad John drew the advantageous inside post and was sent off as the even-money favorite over 6-5 Roll with Joe, the Heat 2 winner who drew post 2. Betterthancheddar, the second heat runner-up, was the 4-1 third choice in post 3. As in the first heat, driver David Miller sent Big Bad John to the lead and he was stalked by Roll with Joe for the first lap through a quarter in 27 seconds and a half in 55 1/5. On the second lap, Big Bad John continued to lead, opening up by 1 1/2 lengths on the backstretch through 3/4 in 1:23 1/5. Roll with Joe moved out for room and closed to within a head of Big Bad John at the top of the lane, but Big Bad John turned him away late to win by a length in 1:50. It was another 2 lengths back to Betterthancheddar third, and a long 5 3/4 more to High Noon fourth.
The Western Hanover colt is now 16 for 21 lifetime and has $921,596 in career earnings. Winning owner Ed Telle said, "It's a dream come true. I am so happy to have David (Miller) drive and to have Ron (Potter) train. He exhibits energy like no other horse I've ever had. When you take him to the paddock there's no doubt about it, you are going because he's ready to get there. You are not going to lead him. He is going to take you to the paddock. We just have a great routine down there. We have the pool, we have the paddocks and we have happy horses. We treat them good and happy horses want to win. They pin their ears back and they want to get it done.
Winning trainer Ron Potter added, "I know he gets around the track really great and I'm just really happy with how it worked out. I told Dave I thought he would be really good in the second heat and he would be ready to roll. I was ready right after the first race to just go ahead and get it over with."
Driver David Miller, celebrating his third Little Brown Jug victory, said, "I never thought there would be that much speed in the first turn. My horse got the job done and I was very confident at the 3/4. This is always such a thrill to win this race. Most of all I'm so happy for the connections that are a part of this horse." Miller also won the Jugette with Idyllic on Wednesday, making him only the 2nd driver in history to complete that double.
Ron Pierce, driver of runner-up Roll With Joe, said, "I thought I could get him in the stretch. I sat in second as long as I could when I pulled . I thought my horse was going to get him. But Dave's horse get a few steps of breather and I could not get around him. I worried with only 12 horses but I thought we put on quite a show."
On Wednesday, 3-10 favorite Idyllic did not disappoint in the final of the 41st edition of the $293,350 Jugette for 3-year-old filly pacers. She opened up a 1 1/2 length lead on the backstretch of the first lap, and set fractions of 27, 56 3/5, and 1:24 4/5 over the good track through rain. In the stretch 34-1 Rocklamation, who stalked her 2nd the whole way, closed late but she held her off by a neck to win in 1:54. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to 5-2 second choice Swinging Beauty third.
Winning driver David Miller said, "Yeah there was (an anxious moment in the stretch). Yannick came out of the hole and I wasn’t for sure if he was going to get her (Rocklamation) there. My mare still felt like she had some pace and we fought her off. We put a Murphy blind on her because in the first heat she was running in too much. Just adding that little bit of equipment made a big difference. It definitely got the job done.”