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Fast Times Loom In Little Brown Jug

Published: September 15, 2008 11:20 pm ET

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There will be no lack of pace in Thursday's $551,225 Little Brown Jug at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio.

The race, which is contested in heats, drew 20 three-year-old male pacers, including well-known speedsters Art Official, Badlands Nitro, and Shadow Play. All totaled, eight of this year's fastest horses on small tracks are entered in the Jug.

The Little Brown Jug, raced around a half-mile oval, is the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Art Official won the first leg, the Cane Pace, on Labor Day at Freehold Raceway in 1:51.1, beating Badlands Nitro by a half-length.

The time equaled the stakes record and came one week after Art Official set the track record of 1:50.4 with his Cane Pace elimination victory. Freehold, like Delaware, is a half-mile track.

Art Official, driven regularly by Ron Pierce and trained by Joe Seekman, is the fastest three-year-old in history, having set the World Record of 1:47 with his Meadowlands Pace triumph in July.

Somebeachsomewhere, who will not compete in the Little Brown Jug, holds the World Record for three-year-olds on a half-mile track. He paced 1:49.2 in the Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs in August. Mr Feelgood held the previous record of 1:50, which he set in winning the 2006 Little Brown Jug.

"This is a big race and everyone goes in with their lights on and horns blowing. Everyone is pretty much full tilt on this racetrack," said George Teague Jr., who trains Little Brown Jug contenders Badlands Nitro and Rudy Rednose. "You know you're going to get some tough, tough fractions. If the weather is nice, and the circumstances are good, I definitely think there will be big miles. Chances are, they're going to be gunning out of there pretty good, I think."

Badlands Nitro, who equaled the World Record for two-year-olds on a five-eighths track with his 1:51.1 clocking in 2007, is the 7-5 morning line favourite in the first of the Jug's three opening-round heats.

His victories this year include the Battle of the Brandywine, the Art Rooney Pace, and the Max Hempt Memorial. He will start from post three with regular driver Brian Sears while Adios winner Shadow Play, who is the fastest three-year-old in history on a five-eighths oval and has this year's second-fastest time on a half-mile track, will be in Post 4.

"I'm hoping the three-hole is a good spot," Teague said. "Shadow Play is really a fast horse, so it's going to be pressing for us."

Art Official, who was not eligible to the Little Brown Jug but was able to be supplemented as the result of winning the Cane Pace, is the 7-5 favourite in the third heat and will start from Post 1. In addition to the Cane and Meadowlands Pace, the colt has won the Hoosier Cup.

"The horse is doing great, that's for sure," Seekman said. "Everything is going good with him and you've definitely got to like the draw. It's all systems go."

Lonestar Legend, who is coming off a second-place finish to Atochia in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final, is the 5-2 favourite in the remaining opening-round heat after drawing post one. Atochia is 7-2 and will start from Post 4.

"You're going to find horses that pop up that are handier on a half than they are on a mile. You've always got to be watching for them," Seekman said. "They're all coming into the race good and sharp."

(Harness Racing Communications)

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