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Tambur looks to do "boogie shuffle" in Delaware

September 19, 2017

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Boogie Shuffle will have to beat the best 3-year-old pacers in North America to win Thursday's $590,400 Little Brown Jug and owner Bob Tambur wouldn't want it any other way.
"That's what sports are all about," said Tambur, the owner of Fox Hollow Farm, which bred and owns Boogie Shuffle. "You want to be there. The fact you're there, that you're one of the better horses in the country, that's big.
"I never dreamed I'd get to the Jug. But here we are. I'm a lucky guy."
Boogie Shuffle brings a three-race win streak, and four wins in his past five starts, to the Little Brown Jug, presented by the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association, at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio. The eight-horse field also includes Fear The Dragon, the No. 1-ranked horse in harness racing's Top 10 poll, and No. 3 Downbytheseaside.

"If you want to be a top horse you've got to race against the best," said Tambur, who lives in northeast Pennsylvania. "Now we are racing against the best."

The Little Brown Jug is the third jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Huntsville, who was not entered in the Little Brown Jug, won the first, the Cane Pace, while Downbytheseaside won the second, the Messenger Stakes.

This year's race ushers in a new era for the Little Brown Jug, which previously required a horse to win two heats to be declared the event's champion. Beginning this year, the race's conditions were altered so that eliminations only establish an eight-horse field for the final later in the day. The Little Brown Jug champion is the winner of the final regardless of finish position in his elimination.

With eight horses in this year's field, all will advance to the$401,472 final. The post positions for the final will be determined by the official order of finish in the $188,928 first heat, with the winning horse assigned post position one and all others taking their positions in the order they were placed in the first heat.
Boogie Shuffle, a son of 2009 Little Brown Jug winner Well Said out of the mare Ciela Hanover, will start the first round from post six and is 6-1 on the morning line. Downbytheseaside, in post five, is the 2-1 favorite while Fear The Dragon is the second choice, at 7-2.

Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon are both trained by Brian Brown, who is based at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Brian Sears will drive Downbytheseaside while David Miller, who with a win Thursday can equal the record of five Little Brown Jug victories, will be behind Fear The Dragon.

Scott Zeron will drive Boogie Shuffle for trainer Mark Harder.

"One thing about (Boogie Shuffle), he's got gate speed," Tambur said. "We'll see what happens. It's up to Scotty."

Boogie Shuffle began this season with a win and four third-place finishes in his first five races. In his next four races, though, he finished no better than sixth. It was discovered the horse was suffering from stomach ulcers and his recent return to top form followed treatment for the issue.

His three-race win streak includes the $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship Sept. 3 at Harrah's Philadelphia. Boogie Shuffle won the event in a career-best 1:48.2.

"Even when he was sick, he was trying," Tambur said. "Mark kept saying the horse is a good horse. He knew there was something wrong; it was just a matter of figuring it out and getting the horse right. It was very frustrating. But Mark never gave up on that horse, nor did Scotty.

"Those two guys stuck with me. I have admiration for both of them. I give both those guys a lot of credit; a lot of character there."

For his career, Boogie Shuffle has won six of 27 races and earned $362,543. Last year, he won only one of 13 races but finished among the top three a total of 10 times.

"Last year, he would slow down when a horse came alongside of him," Tambur said. "This year, he goes for it. He's a little older, a little smarter. And he's strong. We think he will be great to go two races (in the Jug). I'm not saying we're going to win, but he doesn't get tired easily."

Tambur, whose business ventures include a financial company and real estate development, got started in harness racing a little more than two decades ago. He is looking forward to his first trip to the Little Brown Jug.

"I'm in it for the dream," Tambur said. "When you breed a horse on your farm and you raise him and he goes out and does well, I get a big kick out of it.

"We've got a lot of good races ahead of us. I'm optimistic, but we're racing with the best of them."

Right where he wants to be. (HRC)

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