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Friday, September 21, 2012

The Foot Loose Little Brown Jug

Michael's Power won the 2012 Little Brown Jug in straight heats yesterday at the Delaware County Fair, defeating the other first heat winner Sweet Lou.  Unfortunately, what occurred in Sweet Lou's first heat - second division victory will be what some people will be talking about for a while.

In the first heat, Michael's Power sat in the pocket to win the race at the wire.  Bolt the Deur took the field to the quarter in a hard fought :26, before taking the field through a leisurely :56 half and a 1:24.3 three-quarters before Michael's Power came out from the pocket trip to nose out Bolt The Deur, tripping the teletimer in 1:52.3 in a drive which showed Scott Zeron showing incredible poise in the bike .  Escape The News finished third while Thinking Out Loud picked up the fourth and final spot to advance to the final.   As promised earlier by trainer Peter Foley, Bolt The Duer was scratched out of the second heat.

Also as promised, Sweet Lou took advantage of the rail in the second division to wire his field in a speedy 1:51 after going through fractions of :27, :55.4, and 1:22.4.  Sweet Lou was helped by the fact A Rocknroll Dance wisely took a seat through the first quarter, realizing a suicidal speed duel would have developed if Yanick Gingras kept going on his mission for the lead.   However A Rocknroll Dance came out to race on the outside in the second quarter before challenging Sweet Lou after the half through the rest of the race.  But Sweet Lou was not going to be denied as he won comfortably.  Bettor's Edge was flying late to come up a neck short finishing second with A Rocknroll Dance paying the price but holding on to finish third.  Simply Business who had no room in the stretch secured the final spot in the final, finishing fourth.

However, as much as people were talking about Sweet Lou's victory in division two, some people noticed Dave Palone's foot work through the stretch as he let his right leg swing four or five times to 'hit' Sweet Lou's  right hind leg in a successful effort to keep him going to the wire.  As one person on Twitter noted, it was "vintage Case", referring to how Walter Case Jr. used to be known for kicking the horses he drove in a race.  I am sure the judges picked it up and Dave Palone is likely to be fined for his infraction but let's face it, the fine system is so ridiculous that violating the rules was a cost of doing business for Palone and well worth it to make sure he won the heat and possibly draw the coveted rail in the second heat. 

I know many racetrack regulars will not care about the 'foot loose' incident but here on a day when a harness race draws attention, there are going to be some people remembering how a horse was kicked going down the stretch, despite how masterfully it was done, offending the same people who object to excessive whipping of horses. No doubt when the inevitable fine comes down, we will once again see how the fine system is such a joke, fines so low that fines are are a cost of business, not a deterrent.

Anyway, with a field of eight reduced to seven by Bolt The Deur's defection, the second heat of the Little Brown Jug was assembled and they met the starting gate for what turned out to be the final time of the afternoon.

Micheal's Power left along with A Rocknroll Dance early on with Michael's Power holding the lead, taking the field through a blistering :25.2 in a move which many thought would cost Zeron the race.  Sweet Lou, who seeking a two hole trip managed to sting A Rocknroll Dance by not allowing him to see the wood through the quarter.  Michael's Power took the field to the half in :54 while Bettor's Edge came up on the outside to get ready to mount a challenge which never really developed, instead clogging up the outer flow as Michael's Power hit the three-quarters in 1:22.  At that point the race was over with Michael's Power crossing the finish line with a 1:50 victory.  Sweet Lou finished second with Bettor's Edge and Thinking Out Loud finished third and fourth, respectively.

Scott Zeron became the youngest driver to win the Little Brown Jug at the age of 23 and Casie Coleman completed the all female double of Linda Toscano (Hambletonian) - Casie Coleman (LBJ).

For the record, attendance at The Jug was reported to be over 48,000.


JLB said...

A one thousand dollar fine would not dent Dave Palone's wallet. But tell him that the next time it happens, it will be $ 5000, plus a suspension, and maybe it will happen. But I do not know if Ohio racetrack commission decisions would be followed by, say, Pennsylvania, where he does the bulk of his driving.

It is refreshing that, with no passing lane at Delaware, some strategy had to come into play. I think that the passing lane has had a major impact on reducing the competitiveness of most races, especially on a half-mile track. Time to eliminate it?

That Blog Guy said...

I'm all for eliminating the passing lane. While a good idea in theory, all it has done is make racing more boring.