It's time for the magic wand again. You know, the one where we use slots cash and bring the biz together to do something neat.....
The Little Brown Jug is not broken. But it could use a slight resurfacing. A little blush on the cheeks; just so we can bring it into the new century and use it for what it is: Harness racing Americana.
First, some housekeeping.
* Heat racing is abolished. Harness racing is a hard sell. Telling a 21st century public that a horse can race again in a couple of hours makes them cringe. We can explain to each other, or to other insiders that everything is hunky-dorey with heats, but we are not the audience.
* The Jug takes a stand - no one handed whipping. It is often said that the Masters in golf can make rule changes if they want, because they are a beacon of the sport. They have specific rules, like amateur champs playing, and world wide exemptions for other tours. It works. The Jug should use its race to make racing better (for the record, I am not sold on no whipping, or a no whipping activist, but I agree with most - it will be gone soon. So let's make a decision, get some buzz for racing, and get moving)
* Get that purse up. $1M. How, I don't know, but I have a wand. A million is easy.
* Get together with Woodbine and the Meadowlands, and anyone else, preferably who has a little bit of slots money. Combine forces and brand a Triple Crown. Trademark it. The North America Cup's purse is lowered to $1M US. This way the Harness Racing Crown is now the North America Cup, The Meadowlands Pace, and the grand daddy - The Little Brown Jug, all at one million each. This would be a formidable test. Three sized tracks, over four months. A true beast would be the only colt to win this test. And that colt can be measured throughout history, long after we all have left this earth.
* The Jug Final is a nine horse race. Each previous Triple Crown race winner gets a bye, but the rest are determined by a racing series. This series includes races like the Confederation Cup, Jug Preview, the Adios and the Battle of Brandywine, in addition to on the board finish points for the first two legs. Each horse gets points for 1st, 2nd or 3rd and the nine best are invited, granted that they have paid up.
How does that sound? Well if we are not sold, let's look at what the above would have accomplished this year. First Somebeach would be there. There would be no talk of going to Lexington. He would be at the Jug. Art Official would be there. No horse is not going to pay for the $1M third leg of the Triple Crown are they?
From the rail out it might look like this:
Race 11 - The Little Brown Jug. Purse: $1,000,000
1. Shadow Play (Adios winner)
2. Somebeachsomewhere (bye)
3. Art Official (bye)
4. Badlands Nitro (Battle of Brandywine)
5. Santanna Blue Chip (on points)
6. The Mohegan Pan (on points)
7. Dali (on points)
8. Mystery Chase (points)
9. Major General (points)
Doable? Probably not. But I do have that damn wand, y'know?