By John Furgele
Little Brown Jug day at the Delaware County (Ohio) Fair on Thursday will be crowded in several ways – 13 pacers are entered creating two elimination heats that lead to the final, and attendance that could reach 40,000.
The five-day Grand Circuit stop at this half-mile oval is considered one of the top weeks in harness racing. capped by one of pacing’s most popular races for 3-year-olds.
The female version of the Jug, which carries a purse of nearly $400,000, is the Jugette for 3-year-old fillies set for Wednesday.
In the Jug, the first four finishers from each heat qualify for the final. The first elim has a field of seven, with Lou’s Pearlman with
The Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ is trained by Ron Burke and will be driven by Yannick Gingras – two of the best in the business.
In the second elim, Perfect Sting drew post 6 in the six-horse field. Unbeaten in 2020 as a 2-year-old (and named Pacer of the Year), Perfect Sting is 4-5-1 from 10 starts in 2021, but has yet to come through in a big race.
He was second in four top events this year: the North America Cup, the Meadowlands Pace; the Max Hempt Memorial, and Cane Pace.
To me, he’s too good to finish second again. The field is good one for the Jug, but not as good as some of his runner-up finishes. That tells me that his class will show in the final, set for 6:30 p.m. ET.
In the final, I’ll go with Whichwaytothebeach second and Lou’s Pearlman third. It’s a bit tricky, of course, because each horse still must qualify but these three are the class of the field.
Attendance was limited in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Borntobeshameless (Dan Noble, Christi Noble), 9-2
- Lou’s Pearlman (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke), 2-1
- Simon Says Hanover (Scott Zeron, Tony Alagna), 12-1
- Mysweetboymax (Aaron Merriman, Sam DePinto), 6-1
- Whichwaytothebeach (Andrew McCarthy, Brett Pelling), 3-1
- Always A Miki (Dexter Dunn, Nancy Takter), 10-1
- Town Gossip (Joe Bongiorno, Jen Bongiorno), 8-1
- Rockyroad Hanover (Dexter Dunn, Tony Alagna), 7-2
- American Courage (Matt Kakaley, Travis Alexander), 6-1
- I’ll Drink To That (Tim Tetrick, Chris Ryder), 4-1
- Water Sports Teen (Joe Bongiorno, Jen Bongiorno), 8-1
- Bayfield Beach (Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke), 12-1
- Perfect Sting (David Miller, Joe Holloway), 2-1
The Jugette drew 10 entries – two five-filly elims to pare down to a final eight. To me, this is Test of Faith’s race to lose. She has checked all the boxes: 18 starts, 16 wins and $914,050 in earnings. She’s coming off a big win in the $200,000 New York Sire Stakes championships at Yonkers, so she should have no issues with the half-mile for trainer Brett Pelling.
As a kid growing up in the Buffalo suburbs in the 1970s and 80s, the radio was one of John Furgele’s best friends. In the evenings, he used to listen to a show on WBEN radio called “Free Form Sports,” hosted by Buffalo broadcast legend Stan Barron. The show ran weeknights from 6 to 11 pm and featured every kind of sport you could imagine. One minute, Mr. Barron was interviewing a Buffalo Sabres player; the next, he was giving high school field hockey scores.
But there was always one thing that caught John’s ear. During those five hours, Barron would give the results from Western New York’s two harness racing tracks — Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs. This is where John learned what exactas, quinellas, trifectas and daily doubles were all about. From then on, he always paid attention to harness racing, and when Niatross (a legendary Western New York horse) hit the scene in 1979, his interest began to blossom.
John believes harness racing is a sport that has the potential to grow and he will explore ways to get that done via marketing, promotion and, above all, the races themselves.
When he’s not watching races, John is busy with his family and his job in sales. Like the pacers and trotters, he does a little running himself and you’ll occasionally find him “going to post” in a local 5K race.