Three-year-old Western Hanover colt Big Bad John, racing for hometown trainer Ron Potter, fended off a hard-closing Roll With Joe to capture the $252,864 final of the Little Brown Jug on Thursday
, September 22 at the Delaware Ohio County Fair.
Big Bad John's victory, which was clocked in an even 1:50, came over Meadowlands Pace winner Roll With Joe, who finished second for driver Ron Pierce and trainer Ed Hart. Betterthancheddar, who was driven by George Brennan for trainer Casie Coleman of Cambridge, Ont., finished third.
Big Bad John's win time of 1:50 in the second heat was a national season's record in the United States for a three-year-old pacing colt on a half-mile track.
Courtesy of his win with Big Bad John in the 66th edition of the Jug, driver David Miller, a native of Ohio, became just the second driver in the history of harness racing to sweep the Jugette (Idyllic) and Little Brown Jug in the same year. Billy Haughton was the first to accomplish the rare feat back in 1974.
"It's pretty major alright," Potter said trackside during a post-race interview. Owner Ed Telle of Winchester Baye Acres Inc. concurred in full. "I'm just so happy that David's here and drove him and that Ron is here and trained him. We did it!"
After having triumphed in the opening heat while racing on the front end, Big Bad John was back on the engine in the final. Miller and Big Bad John had started from Post 1 with speedsters Roll With Joe and Betterthancheddar to his immediate outside. Miller timed the gate well, landed on the top early and led the field to the 27-second quarter pole.
"Well, I didn't even talk to Dave (David Miller) about the race [beforehand]," Potter said after the victory. "Obviously he felt like [Big Bad John] was strong on the front end and if he could put those guys behind him, that's what he'd do."
With Roll With Joe drafting in the pocket early in the second quarter, Miller and Big Bad John had to deal with Moffat, Ont.-based driver driver Jody Jamieson aboard North America Cup winner Up The Credit, who fired first up after having left hard off the gate.
The early pressure from Up The Credit pushed Big Bad John down to the opening half-mile marker in :55.1 --- the :28.1 second quarter would not prove to affect Big Bad John.
After having repelled the effort of Up The Credit, Miller and Big Bad John had to deal with Ron Pierce and Roll With Joe, who swelled up and fired first-over after the 'John' cut the three quarters in 1:23.1.
The pair of opening-heat victors straightened into the homestretch and slugged it out in the lane, but it was Big Bad John who paced home with a solid :26.4 final quarter to seal the deal in front of the hometown crowd.
The Jimmy Takter-trained High Noon, who was driven by Cambridge, Ont.'s Mark MacDonald, finished fourth. Something For Doc, racing for Tim Tetrick and Brian Brown, finished fifth. Up The Credit finished seventh.
"I didn't expect Jody to leave, and that really pushed the pace, but [Big Bad John] fought him off and got the job done," said a victorious Miller, who is now a three-time Jug winner.
"My horse felt really good," Miller explained. "Even off the last turn, I hadn't pulled the plugs yet. He was strong right to the wire."
Pierce, who had to settle for second, stated to Little Brown Jug publicity that he thought he was going to be able to haul down Big Bad John in the lane.
"I thought I could get him in the stretch," Pierce said. "I sat in second as long as I could when I pulled. I thought my horse was going to get him, but Dave’s horse got a few steps of breather and I could not get around him."
Potter indicated that Big Bad John will next race on Saturday, October 1 at the Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky, and then head to the Breeders Crown at Woodbine Racetrack in suburban Toronto.
Roll With Joe will look to give his dam Classic Wish a third Jug winner after capturing the second $84,288 elimination of the Little Brown Jug.
In rein to driver Ron Pierce, Roll With Joe was sent out for the lead from Post 5 but it wasn't easy. Rollwithitharry (Brett Miller) and Betterthancheddar (George Brennan) were also intent on the front end. Brennan cleared to the lead with Betterthancheddar but felt immediate pressure from Roll With Joe through the brisk :26.1 opener. Brennan took a strong hold and gave way to Roll With Joe.
Pierce kept Roll With Joe rolling through the :53.3 half before feeling the pressure of fire breathing down his neck in the form of Hugadragon (Yannick Gingras), with Up The Credit (Jody Jamieson) on his back perched second over. The pace kept up with a 1:22 third panel, and around the final turn Hugadragon started to back away and Pierce asked Roll With Joe for another gear to get some distance on the field.
As the field hit the stretch, Brennan popped the pocket with Betterthancheddar to take a run at the pacesetter but Roll With Joe repelled the late bid with :28.2 final quarter to hit the wire in 1:50.2. Rollwithitharry was a ground-saving third.
Hugadragon finished fourth but was placed fifth for putting a wheel under Up The Credit in the stretch. That placing bumped Up The Credit into fourth, advancing him to the final.
"To me, it felt like he was going a quarter in 30 seconds," said Ron Pierce when asked about how fast Roll With Joe was pacing. "He goes so fast so easy that he kind of got away from me there."
When asked by Ellie Sarama if Roll With Joe still had lots left in the tank for the second heat, Pierce felt his colt would be stronger.
"Oh yeah. Yeah, I think he'll be better in the second heat."
Trained by Ed Hart, Roll With Joe (Cams Card Shark - Classic Wish) is now 5-for-10 on the year for Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Stephen Demeter, Not To Worry Stable and Winbak Farm.
The draw for the 18th race, the second heat of the 2011 Little Brown Jug is as follows.
1. Big Bad John (D. Miller)
2. Roll With Joe (Pierce)
3. Betterthancheddar (Brennan)
4. Something For Doc (Tetrick)
5. High Noon (MacDonald)
6. Rollwithitharry (B. Miller)
7. Up The Credit (Jamieson)
8. Foreclosure N (SCRATCHED)
Big Bad John, trained by Ron Potter and driven by David Miller, got to the lead early didn't look back in winning his opening-heat elimination of the Little Brown Jug for three-year-old pacers Thursday
, September 22 at the Delaware Ohio County Fair.
The bay Western Hanover colt had started from Post 2 in the six-horse dash and made his move to the lead as soon at the gate swung away. Driver Ron Pierce, aboard the rail horse, Something For Doc, allowed Miller to ease the heavy 1-5 post-time choice on to the lead and click off an opening quarter in :26.4.
From there, Pierce and the rest of the field allowed Miller to get a :29.2 second quarter into his colt, as Big Bad John rambled to the opening half-mile marker in :56.1.
The first mover in the mile was Powerful Mist, driven by John Campbell. Powerful Mist came calling first over from third and was still overland when Big Bad John tripped the three quarters clock in 1:23.2.
Big Bad John looked confident on the lead in the final quarter. He and Miller came home with a 27-second final quarter (and a :54.1 back half) to record a 1:50.2 victory with relative ease.
Pierce and Something For Doc made a bid from the pocket in the lane, but settled for second. High Noon, who was driven by Mark MacDonald, had raced near the back of the pack for the majority of the dash, but he came on late to lock down third place. Foreclosure N, who was driven by Tim Tetrick, also closed from the backfield and finished fourth.
"After I made the lead I went as slow as I could," said Miller, with a laugh. "'Ronnie' (Ron Pierce) came at us [in the stretch] but my colt had more when I asked him.
"He relaxed good when he got to the lead. I think he' ll be fine in the second heat, he wasn't stretched out too much."
To read a full recap of the Delaware Ohio County Fair's Little Brown Jug undercard, click here.