Jay Wolf, Assistant Publicity Director of The Little Brown Jug, just released the first of six top ten rankings of the contenders for the Jug, which will be raced September 20. They are:
1 A Rocknroll Dance2 Hurrikane Kingcole
3 Michaels Power4 Sweet Lou
5 Bolt The Duer6 Dapper Dude
7 Thinking Out Loud8 Bettor’s Edge
9 Time To Roll10 Allstar Legend
In the distant past one would begin by checking the records of these colts over half mile tracks, but so many of today’s starters go into the race never having raced over any track smaller than 5/8 of a mile that it’s impossible to judge them on that basis.Last year’s winner, Big Bad John, was something of an anomaly in that he was based at Delaware and trained over that track. Also, he won the Standardbred there at two.
A Rocknroll Dance deserves to top the list. He was off this past weekend but prior to that raced hard nine weeks in a row, during which he was second in the NJSS final, won the Hempt and Meadowlands Pace and finished second in the Adios. Gingras races him aggressively, a must in the Jug.Kingcole, who is rated second, won a Hempt elimination, the Pace consolation and a Classic elimination—all in impressive fashion—but being run down by Panther Hanover in a very fast mile in the Classic kind of sums up his career. There have been lots of fireworks but always at the wrong time. He still hasn’t crossed the $200,000 threshold for the year. Dapper Dude, Romantic Moment, Major Look, Cookie, Allstar Legend and Secretsoftheknight are a few of the three-year-old colts and fillies that have earned more this year than he has, and most of them have made fewer starts. When speed fails to translate into dollars there are issues.
Michaels Power, a winner of nine of ten starts, is rated third and can’t be faulted, but most of his wins and money have been accumulated in restricted stakes.Sweet Lou has been a world beater in the PASS but has come up short in the NA Cup, Pace and Adios. Palone prefers to let things settle before coming on, which is what John Campbell has been doing with Dapper Dude—number six—who was recently dominant in the Tarport Effrat and the Adios consolation.
Bolt The Duer is made for Delaware. He finished second in the Rooney, and seemed to handle the turns just fine as he made the mile, while Kingcole came overland to get third in that race, but wasn’t as comfortable on the track. Actually, that’s it: the history of small track racing for the top ten contenders for the Jug. It all happened in the Rooney.Bettor’s Edge, who is rated number eight, is a New York bred, and they tend to get a steady diet of half mile track racing at Yonkers, Buffalo, Monticello and Batavia, whether they like it or not. However, Bettor’s Edge is owned by Brittany Farms and trained by Linda Toscano, and they staked him to everything and tend to race him in opens. When he does go the sires stakes route, as in Sunday’s Empire Breeders’ Classic, it’s generally at Tioga or Vernon. On the other hand, Toscano’s Hypnotic Blue Chip, who is under different ownership, spends the bulk of his time chasing NY bred purses on the small tracks.
One would expect to find Heston, a winner of eight races over half mile tracks, as well as his Meadowlands Pace elimination, on this list, but he wasn’t staked to the Jug. It seems odd that a colt that has never tasted defeat on a small track isn’t being primed for Delaware. One could say the same about Pet Rock, the Rooney winner, who is also absent from the list of eligible colts. He’s slated to go in the second elimination for the Confederation Cup over the half mile track at Flamboro Downs on Sunday, so Virgil Morgan and company aren’t staying clear of the twice arounds. Panther Hanover, a $25,000 supplemental entry in the Confederation Cup, who has never raced on a small track, is another curiosity. His owner, Big Jim Carr, was resigned to the fact that he would have to race Big Jim in the Jug to add to his appeal as a stallion, so he may feel the same way about Panther and keep coming up with those supplemental payments.The Confederation Cup will be a good test for the four Jug eligibles among the eleven colts vying for a spot in the final, those being Michaels Power, Mel Mara, Secretsoftheknight and Caviart Key. There will be nine in the final and less than 23% of the starters from posts six through nine win at Flamboro.
At this point the only route to the Jug for Heston, Pet Rock or Panther is the same one Casie Coleman took with Betterthancheddar last year: win the Cane. Since none of them are eligible to the Cane, their connections would need to pay a $35,000 supplemental fee. And after securing a win in that race, a $45,000 check would be made out to the Little Brown Jug Society. It would cost the connections $80,000 just to put themselves at the mercy of the draw in Delaware, Ohio. (The Cane is the first leg of pacing’s traditional Triple Crown, hence the loophole.)Thinking Out Loud, a stone closer, hadn’t seen anything smaller than a 7/8 track when he raced in the Adios. He came late to get third in his elimination but seemed to get lost on the last turn in the final. Time To Roll is in the same boat, and his style doesn’t seem well suited to Delaware either.
Bettor’s Edge, number eight, as well as the ten, Allstar Legend, are both quick out of the gate and suited to racing in the Jug. The former is very sharp right now while the latter scratched out of the Adios.The Battle of Brandywine, which takes place a week from Sunday, will add some clarity to the picture—we hope.