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Jug Experience Hits Home For Mondillo

Published: September 22, 2021 11:05 am ET

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Dorothy and Toto would have nothing on Bob Mondillo this week when it comes to the notion 'there’s no place like home.'

Mondillo resides in Delaware, Ohio, the site of Thursday’s $661,800 Little Brown Jug for three-year-old pacers. But more than that, Mondillo is co-owner of Ill Drink To That, who is one of the 13 horses entered in the Little Brown Jug. The colt is 4-1 on the morning line in the second of the event’s two $132,360 eliminations. The top four finishers from each elim advance to the $397,080 final later in the day.

It will be the third time Mondillo has a horse in the Little Brown Jug since becoming an owner in the late 1990s. He has reached one final, in 2018 with This Is The Plan, who finished fifth.

“It’s something I always aspired to be in,” said Mondillo, an investment advisor who moved to Delaware some 30 years ago. “I would love to win it someday. That hasn’t happened but we’re going to keep on trying. It’s just the atmosphere, the excitement during the week, and everything it represents — the relationship between the horse and the connections of the horse. I think it’s really something to be proud of and something to witness.

“I’ve been to the big cities, all the major cities in the country, but I still consider myself a small-town guy. I love the feel of Delaware. I like the people here. I like the equine attitude, if I could use that description, that we have in the area. It’s just been great. I can’t say I knew all of that in advance, I just happened to end up in the right place.”

Ill Drink To That heads to the Little Brown Jug off back-to-back wins, the first in a division of the Empire Breeders Classic and the second in the New York Sire Stakes championship. He struggled with allergies at midseason but has won five of 13 races this year and hit the board a total of 10 times, earning $268,335.

Mondillo owns the son of American Ideal-Margarita Monday with Craig Henderson, Lawrence Minowitz, and Oompa’s Farm. Purchased for $75,000 at the 2019 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, the colt is a full brother to near-millionaire Tequila Monday. His family also includes millionaires Bolt The Duer and Shanghai Lil.

Ill Drink To That will start his elimination at the Delaware County Fairgrounds from post three with Tim Tetrick driving for trainer Chris Ryder.

“He’s in it, so we have a chance,” Mondillo said. “I like him. I think he’s going to be competitive. He looks good. He looks ready. We certainly have a decent post. No excuses, whatever happens, happens. But I feel positive he will put in a good effort. I’m looking forward to it. We’re excited.”

Perfect Sting is the 2-1 morning-line favourite in Ill Drink To That’s elimination. The Joe Holloway-trained colt will start from post six in the six-horse field with David Miller in the sulky. Miller has won the Little Brown Jug five times, and with a victory in Thursday’s final would break a tie with Billy Haughton and Mike Lachance for the most in history.

Undefeated in 10 races at age two and a Dan Patch Award winner, Perfect Sting has four wins, five seconds, and a third in 10 starts this season. He has earned $1.2 million lifetime.

The second elimination also includes American Courage and Rockyroad Hanover. The Little Brown Jug is the third jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown, and American Courage won the first, the Messenger Stakes, and Rockyroad Hanover captured the second, the Cane Pace.

American Courage, trained by Travis Alexander and driven by Matt Kakaley, was supplemented to the Little Brown Jug for $45,000.

Rockyroad Hanover, who will have Dexter Dunn at the lines, is trained by Tony Alagna, who won last year’s Little Brown Jug with Captain Barbossa. The most recent trainer to win the Jug in consecutive years was Casie Coleman, with Michaels Power in 2012 and Vegas Vacation in 2013.

In the first elimination, trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras — both elected to the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame earlier this week — will team up with 2-1 morning-line favourite Lous Pearlman, the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ. Burke is a two-time winner of the Jug, with both triumphs coming with Gingras in the sulky.

Brett Pelling-trained Whichwaytothebeach is the 3-1 second choice in the elimination. Pelling has won the Little Brown Jug on three occasions, tied for third among all trainers in the race’s history.

Racing begins at noon Thursday at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. The Little Brown Jug eliminations are Races 16 and 17. The final is race 20.


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