Won The West, two-time Pacer Of The Year and Breeders Crown champion, will be honored in Jug Day retirement ceremonies on Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Delaware, Ohio County Fair. Won The West was also feted last month at the Meadowlands in winner's circle ceremonies.
Won The West will be housed in the Jug barn next to 2011 Little Brown Jug winner Big Bad John. After the Winbak Pace, Won The West will be driven to the winner's circle by David Miller, where the track farrier will pull his shoes while he is held by long time groom Sarah Murphy.
The Ohio-owned pacer will retire with lifetime earnings of $3,939,836. Won The West made 109 lifetime starts with 36 victories, 24 seconds and 15 thirds and took his record of 1:47 at the Meadowlands. The son of Western Hanover-Gabrielle was voted "Aged Pacer of the Year” in 2009 and 2010 by the U.S. Harness Writers. He also won the Breeders Crown Aged Pace both years.
Brian Brown, a trainer from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, purchased Won The West for $35,000 at the Harrisburg Yearling Sale. Brown bought Won The West for James Koehler's Country Club Acres, Inc. of Findlay, OH; the Kantzer family's Strollin Stable of Marion, OH; and William Robinson of Findlay, OH. Brown does not own a share of the horse.
Immediately after the sale, Brown brought Won The West to the Delaware Fairgrounds to begin his training lessons.
"He was a big horse from the time I bought him. He was kind of a bully and liked to push you around, but never was mean. When I trained him I always had to have another horse. If I didn't have a horse in front of him, he would try and pull up at the three-quarter pole. After I would get him past there he would go like crazy,” said Brown.
Unfortunately, Won The West broke his left hind ankle and was sidelined the rest of the season. "We brought him back late in November and he was ready to qualify in early February of 2006. I qualified him at The Meadows and then left him with Ron Burke. The plan was for Ronnie to keep him through March and then I would take him back. But, Ronnie was doing so good with him that we left him with Burke.”
Ron had Won The West gelded in April of 2007. "He was getting to be too big a handful in the barn and Ron was afraid he was going to hurt a person or himself.”
Won The West's owners and Burke kept Brown involved with the horse. "Ronnie and I often talked on the phone about the horse. And I would get to fly with my owners to a lot of his races. I especially remember his winning the Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs.”
In 2009, Won The West won the Winbak Farm Pace during Jug Week. "It was pretty exciting because he was racing against Mr. Big who was the best older pacer of that year. Won The West came at Mr. Big at the five-eighths pole and sat on the outside. I didn't think there was any way he would beat Mr. Big with that kind of trip. But, he just kept coming and just before the wire he put his head in front.”
Won The West also finished third in his elimination and fourth to Tell All in the 2007 Jug Final
Injuries have limited Won The West to six starts this year. Two days after his last start (June 4), his trainer discovered that his ankle was swollen and an ultra sound found a tear in his suspensory.
Following the Jug Day ceremony, his owners will decide where he will go for retirement. The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington is one possibility. However, Won The West's groom, Sara Murphy of Gateway, N.J., would like to keep him with her and enter him in horse shows throughout the East. (with files from LBJ)