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Friday, September 18, 2009

Jug Week is Here!

Okay, Sunday is the start of Jug week, but considering they have drawn Sunday's program and the field for the Jugette today, for all practical purposes, the week has begun.

The Jug this year may be one of the most anticipated ever with Well Said and Vintage Master both entering the race. Yes, the half mile track is scorned by many, but at least this year the pull of the Little Brown Jug brings out the sportsmanship of the horses' connections and harness racing will be better off for it. Hopefully, we will be talking about this LBJ for years to come.

For those who may not know, the USTA has a mini-site set up for the racing action at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. You can read stories, see the entries and even get free programs (basic) from this website. All racetracks should take note of the free programs.

Other than the marquee races, handicapping the races at Delaware are not for the faint-of-heart. Being the racing is geared towards Ohio breds, horses will be coming from tracks like Raceway Park, Northfield Park, Scioto Downs, The Meadows, The Red Mile, Freehold, as well as fair tracks from all over the state of Ohio. Without having specific knowledge of the individual fairs, it gets somewhat challenging to handicap, but that adds to the charm of Delaware.

Some are sounding the alarm since the Delaware Agricultural Society has decided not to simulcast the first two days (Sunday and Monday) of Jug Week. The reason the first two days are not going to be simulcast is the fair organizers will lose $30,000 if they simulcast the first two days; the simulcast handle does not justify the expense of the simulcasting costs (interesting to note that Delaware actually handles more money on-track than off-track). Sounding the alarm is premature. In this instance, the problem is the quality of the racing program to outside parties. I am not disparaging the Ohio bred standardbred; with all the fair and extended parimutuel meet tracks in Ohio, there is no state which can match the racing opportunities Ohio provides for their statebreds. The problem is for bettors outside of the Ohio area, the racing program is too 'regional' to gain their interest. On Sundays there are many more 'mainstream' programs to wager on and with Monday being traditionally a slow day, there is not enough gamblers available to make simulcasting profitable.

If you have never seen a simulcast of a program from Delaware, make a point to watch it even if you are not wagering. There is no better simulcast program around; other tracks would do well to emulate what they do at Delaware.

Let the racing begin!