Standardbred Canada reports that it appears Well Said will be skipping the Little Brown Jug reportedly because the connections don't want the horse to race multiple heats. Call me cynical, but it couldn't be the connections are looking to avoid the half mile oval? This will be the second year in a row that the top 3yo pacing colt skips the Jug but at least last year Somebeachsomewhere raced on a half mile track in Canada. Hopefully Well Said's connections will change their mind but don't hold your breath.
Last year the directors of the Delaware County Fair changed the conditions of the race so starting with the foals of 2009, the sponsor has the right to race eliminations instead of heat racing if industry changes dictate it with the hope that with the elimination of heat racing, the top horses will once again grace the Delaware oval. My suspicion is the rule change will never be implemented; it likely won't attract the top 3yos. The only way you will get future Well Saids to race in the Little Brown Jug is if the race is moved to a track like Scioto Downs.
Like it or not, the Jug is suffering the same fate as the Yonkers Trot. Sportsmanship is gone. Owners of horses to be or already syndicated don't want to risk their investment on a half mile oval; heaven forbid the horse loses a race, the value of the horse may drop. What can be done to encourage a horse to race on the half mile oval? Marketing is the answer.
The rule to winning a year end award should be changed so for a horse to be eligible for an award, it must race at least once in a parimutuel race during the year's campaign on a half, five-eighths, and mile track. This way, if a syndicate wants to be able to market their horse as the Horse of the Year or Three Year Old Pacer/Trotter of the Year, it will have had to race on each size track. The rationale for this proposal is not to get a horse to race in the Yonkers Trot or the Little Brown Jug; the horse could race in an overnight race to qualify for the award. Breeders and yearling buyers invest a lot of money to raise or buy a yearling, shouldn't they be able to know if a particular stallion (and mare) was able to race on a half mile track or not?
Who knows, maybe one day we will again see a top horse race in some of our half mile classics. We can only hope.