Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Little Brown Jug

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?


Anonymous said...

I know what I say is not popular about whipping, but I still say that doing away with it or forcing drivers to hold both lines in their hands will be absolutely brutal to watch and bet on.

I completely and totally agree with Bob McIntosh's letter he sent to us at the Edge. Professional drivers know how to use the whip without inflicting damage to the horse. People talk about Luc and his whip use, but I can count the number of times he's incurred a whipping violation on one hand.

I realize we need new fans and new bettors to grow, but we cannot allow the reactions of people who come out to the races for one night and who may never come to the races again regardless of whether or not they see the horse getting whipped to dictate to the drivers and horsemen how to operate.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about eliminating heat racing. You get 50,000 people at the Jug. How many people do you get at the NA Cup and the Meadowlands Pace combined? As far as I am concerned, the Jug ain't broken so don't tinker with it. If anything, I would be done, I would move it to a Saturday.

Pull the Pocket said...

I like heat racing. It is exciting. I am just not sure it has a place as we move forward. Harness horses are built for speed now. It's like if the Indy 500 was an Indy 1000, with cars not built to go that far without breaking down. Something would have to give. We are not going to change breeding overnight, so might as well change heats.

As for whips, I agree that using the whip in the spirit it is intended is more than fine. But I think it will be gone soon, regardless. There have been too many rumblings that it has to go, so might as well get it done right.

The post, like most is about moving forward. Not sure it would work, or even if it is a good idea, but the Jug is the face of harness racing and has been for a long time. We need it to be a jewel, not just a curiosity, imo. We have to use it as a promotional tool - we dont get 50k to watch a race, ever. Maybe it being front and centre as a triple crown finale will give it the justice it deserves.

Just my opinion of course, which we are not short on here :)


Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, but I actually like the heat racing for races like this.
If anything, I would make it the last leg of the triple crown, boost the purse up to a million or so, and then, to top it all off, like with our T-bred couterparts, get visa or mastercard to throw in an extra million bonus to any horse that wins all three legs of the triple crown. If that's not incentive to race the best horse, what is?

best regards,


Anonymous said...

Actually, the Jug usually gets betwen 45-50K each year in attendance.

Heat racing seems to do well there (albeit two races the whole year). One thing I love is that you can have over 20 races in a given day come Jugette or Jug day and some of these are for horses coming of the Ohio fair circuit. It may just be this way since they race only five days a year that it or it may be that Delaware is an abnomaly as Ohio has a big fair circuit with parimutuels.

I am just not sure heat racing is a problem. In Sweeden the Ellitlop is raced in heats and they seem to do fine. The problem I suspect lies elsewhere.

Pull the Pocket said...

All good points. I did not envision this being a talk about heat racing only, but it is a good topic. As most of us have said, we like heat racing. I know I do. Once a year seems great. The Confederation Cup it is neat too.

Maybe everyone who enjoys it is right, and the others who do not are wrong. Maybe the Jug is one race we should leave as is. It certainly is popular.

I still would like the Jug as the last jewel of a crown of some sort. It is simply not promoted as well as it could be (no fault of the organizers, so I dont want it to come off that way). Hopefully we can find some way to make it bigger and better.


nrfdc said...

Im on the opposite end of the spectrum...Personally I'd like some of these races to go back to heat racing, I feel it would make for a more competetive stake season IMO....Back in the day where you had heat racing, and It wasnt that long ago, horses were showcased to a wider audience...With heats a week before the finals...Now instead of being having the option of competing @ 4 racetracks in a given month, you're narrowed down to 2.

And A nice spin on the "New Triple Crown, But again...I would have to disagree with one statement...With Woodbine being a 7/8 miler I would still class it as the same size as the M1 because, well simply its a 2 turn race but the theory of having to win the triple Crown on 3 different size tracks make sense for sure...That said, I think you would have to drop the NA Cup from that list and replace it with either the Battle or more preferably...The Adios.

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