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Art Official Is Jug-Bound

Published: September 2, 2008 3:30 pm ET

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Joe Seekman, trainer of Art Official, made it official following the colt's 1:51.1 victory in the Cane Pace. "We're going to the Jug," Seekman exclaimed in the winner's circle.

Art Official has blossomed into one of the sport's brightest stars. He upset previously unbeaten Somebeachsomewhere in the $1.1 million Meadowlands Pace in mid-July in a world record 1:47. The son of Art Major has now won five in a row including last week's Cane Pace elimination. For the year he has won 10 of 16 starts and $1,222,749.

Starting from Post 7, Art Official grabbed the lead in the opening quarter-mile and never looked back, holding off a late charge by Badlands Nitro to win the Cane Pace by half a length. Moon Beam was third.

"Delaware, here we come," exclaimed Hall of Fame winning driver Ron Pierce, who has three Jug victories with Shady Character (1998), Blissfull Hall (1999) and Timesareachanging (2004).

Art Official – Cane Pace

Seekman said his horse "is real sharp; no one can deny that." Seekman has Jug Experience with Dr Drew (fifth in an elimination in 2003) and Crombies Last Laugh (fourth in an elimination in 2004).

Art Official was not eligible to the Cane Pace, the first leg of the Pacing Triple Crown, but joined the field when his owners paid a $35,000 supplemental fee. He was also not eligible to the Jug but by virtue of his Cane victory can now be entered for a $45,000 fee. The Jug is the second leg of the Triple Crown followed by the Messenger.

Seekman is not too concerned about the half-mile track at the Delaware, Ohio County Fairgrounds. "He won the Cane from Post 7 over Freehold's half-mile track," said Seekman, "and he trains here in Centreville, Michigan on a half-mile track."

Nevertheless, Seekman is hoping for an inside post position in his Jug elimination. "I hope my luck will change. I seem to always draw outside."

Art Official will spend the next two weeks at Seekman's farm in Michigan and will be shipped to Delaware either Tuesday or Wednesday of Jug week. The 63rd Little Brown Jug will be raced Thursday afternoon, September 18.

Art Official was winless in 15 starts at two, but earned $104,333. "He was a big horse last year, a big growthy colt, but he had some seconds and thirds against good horses. He just needed to mature," said Seekman.

The colt's owners, James and Joyce Jesk's Sawgrass Farms of Lockport, Illinois, purchased Art Official as a yearling at the 2006 Tattersalls Mixed Sale at the Meadowlands for $10,000. "I bought him cheap but he's a million-dollar horse now," said Jesk, the 76-year-old former mayor of Oak Forest, Illinois.

Art Official is a son of Art Major out of the Falcon Seelster mare Naughty Shady Lady, and was bred by Glengate Farms and Fred Brunner of Ontario.

Seventeen Cane Pace winners have gone on to win the Little Brown Jug, the last being Timesareachanging in 2004.

There have been 10 Pacing Triple Crown champions:

• Adios Butler (1959)
• Bret Hanover (1965)
• Romeo Hanover (1966)
• Rum Customer (1968)
• Most Happy Fella (1970)
• Niatross (1980)
• Ralph Hanover (1983)
• Western Dreamer (1997)
• Blissfull Hall (1999)
• No Pan Intended (2003)

(With files from the Little Brown Jug)

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