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How do you pick the Jug?

May 15, 2007

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Is there any logical way to determine the winner of the Little Brown Jug four months in advance? Is there some easy way to select your 2007 Little Brown Jug Fantasy Contest stable?

Each February, for the past 51 years, Stan Bergstein, executive vice-president of Harness Tracks of America, has compiled the USTA’s Experimental Championship Ratings of three-year-old pacing colts and fillies. The Experimentals are designed to select the fastest three-year-old of the  year.

Since Stan began compiling the Experimental Ratings in 1965, only eight of his No. 1 picks have won the Jug, the last being Beach Towel in 1990. In fact, three of the last four Jug winners, Mr Feelgood, P Forty Seven and No Pan Intended, were not even listed on the Experimental Ratings.

“I spend a lot of time comparing the performance of the top 2-year-old colts against one another, but that is not the final consideration.  I also talk to trainers and drivers of leading contenders, or those who  have raced against them, “ says Bergstein. 

“I can tell you the correlation between a colt or filly’s 2-year-old and 3-year-old form has  changed vastly in recent years,\" he continued. \"It is not even close to what it used to be, particularly among pacers.  Lightly raced youngsters, or nonstarters at two, jump up more frequently these days.  Whether that reflects harder racing at two, or other factors, is difficult to say. \"
Bergstein stresses that his Experimental Ratings are not designed to select Little Brown Jug winners. 

Kenneth J, ranked No. 1 on the 2007 Experimental, is not eligible to the Jug.  Jug eligibles Yankee Skyscaper is No. 2 and Artzina No. 3 on the Experimental Ratings for 2007.

Other major two-year-old stakes, like the Breeders Crown and Woodrow Wilson, are hardly better than the Experimentals in forecasting recent Jug  winners.  Bettor’s Delight is the only Breeders Crown champion to win the Jug and Magical Mike, in 1993, is the most recent Woodrow Wilson champion to triumph at Delaware.

Among the last 10 Dan Patch two-year-old pacing champions only Bettor’s Delight, in 2000, captured the Little Brown Jug.  However, there have been 14 two-year-old champions who did win the Little Brown Jug. There have been  four winners who did not even win a pari-mutuel race at two; Melvin’s Woe, Armbro Omaha, Seatrain and Colt forty Six.

In 2006, Artzina was crowned Dan Patch champion and Domitian Hanover won Canada’s O’Brien award as that country’s  top juvenile colt pacer.  Yankee Skyscaper ($545,500), Artzina ($486,229) and Charley Barley ($370,775) were the leading money winners in 2006 among Jug eligibles.

Phil Terry, Marketing Director for the Little Brown Jug, compiled some statistics that might be helpful in picking your Jug Fantasy Stable.

Cam’s Card Shark, the heavy favorite for the 1994 Jug, was scratched just minutes before post time.  Since going to stud, he has sired three of the last 10 Jug winners, Timesareachanging, Million Dollar Cam and Bettor’s Delight.  Past Jug winners Life Sign, Bettor’s Delight, Blissfull Hall, Shady Character, Astreos and Million Dollar Cam are among the 34 sires of this year’s Jug eligibles. 

Mike Lachance is the leading driver with five victories in the last 20 years.   He also won a heat of the 2006 Jug with Cactus Creek.  Ron Pierce has driven three Jug winners in the past 10 years and has been victorious in seven Jug heats and finals.   

The first races in this year’s Jug Fantasy Contest are the Burlington and Art Rooney Final, both scheduled for Saturday, June 2.  To create your own stable just go to www.jugbarn.com today.  There is no entry fee to play and valuable prizes will be awarded to the contestants.

Players select 10 horses, two trainers and two drivers for each of 14 scheduled contest races leading up to and including the September 20 Little Brown Jug.  You will be able to replace up to 2 horses in your stable, plus 1 driver and 1 trainer, during each of the contest’s 2 supplemental draft periods. See jugbarn.com for details. 

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