This week we of course have the eyes set to the Little Brown Jug. On Thursday, 19 colts will go in two eliminations, then the top finishers will come back an hour or so later for the final.
It has been noted, and I think rightfully so, that this group is subpar. I guess that should be expected since four of the five top 2 year olds are on the shelf, but it does not make the Jug any less exciting - it always is.
I am not much of a handicapper for half mile ovals, simply because I do not like to play post position. In big races, this becomes even more polarized. Simply put, a colt who is five lengths faster who draws the eight, is no longer five lengths faster. On the fastest, most speed favouring piece of dirt in harness racing, you do not want to be going overland.
That is exactly what early season sensation Well Said has to do from the eight post in elim one. He has no choice but to blast, and if/when he does, he has solid inside speed to contend with. He has to get lucky, or he has to return somehow to NA Cup form.
Because of his stout gate to wire effort in the Cane, Vintage Master is a likely and deserved chalk. If you can tell me he can make front in the elim, and draw the rail in the final, I would make him 1-5 to win. We'll see if the race goes his way, and he is sharp.
Anyway, the racing does not seem to matter come Jug time. I would think it is like some of the British racing festivals we hear about where the racing is secondary to everything else. The Jug is a piece of Americana, it is unique and it is ours. I'll be glued to the TV come Thursday afternoon.
The two year olds are going some huge speed this year, yet I have struggled to find a colt whom impressed me so far. They look fast, but ordinary fast to this handicapper. And I wonder if many of them will even be around come next year. However there is a colt who I think is the most impressive two year old I have seen since Somebeachsomewhere, and his name is One More Laugh. He's a Mcardle, which does not strike fear into a lot of folks, but being a Mcardle makes me think he might be able to last - McArdle was dead tough. Take a look at this colts replays if you have not seen him go.
As most folks who judge horseflesh tend to believe - show me a horse who does things others can not - even for a quarter mile or a half mile - and I will show you a potential superstar. We saw that with Muscle Hill in the BC at two, Beach in the Metro at two, Rainbow Blue in the Fan Hanover at three. I think you might have seen the same type performance from this fella in the elim for the Governor's Cup. For some strange reason, he was not even favored in the final.
As far as the rest of the two year olds go, the only thing that has stuck out to me is - if I have a good two year old I do not think I want to race him. Just this last week Ian Moore, who races his horses and is not one to baby them, looks to be shutting down his two good colts. "They are going scary fast" he says. I agree. We need to keep our eye on this for the next year or two to see just how these horses fare after the speed they are going so early.
Enjoy the Jug folks! It only happens once a year!