ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Little Brown Jug is one of Harness Racing's Biggest Events

Updated on August 28, 2017

Big race, big crowd, small track !

Every September, the town of Delaware, Ohio attracts a ton of attention for it's county fair. The biggest draw of the festival is the five-day race card that is filled with many stakes, breeders championships, the Jugette (for 3-yr old fillies only), and the Little Brown Jug. The top reinsman, trainers and owners from North America bring their top pacers and trotters to the small fairgrounds to get their share of the winnings.

Along with all of the horsemen, it also attracts thousands of fans who wager huge amounts of money at the fair. In fact, the record handle for one day occurred in 1999 when over $2 million dollars passed through the ticket windows on-track on the big day. Factor in an estimated $1.5 million from simulcast outlets and you can see just how monumental it is for the sport. Rain or shine, people pass through the gates and crowd their way around the 1/2 mile oval and try to get a glimpse of the horses as they pass by. In 1997, the largest crowd in the history of the event showed up with an attendance figure of 56,129.

2008 Winner, SHADOW PLAY, driven by David Miller of Ohio
2008 Winner, SHADOW PLAY, driven by David Miller of Ohio | Source

The size of the racetrack itself is often a large factor in the outcome. Because it's a 4-turn mile, racing on the outside is a tremendous disadvantage. So, post position is more important here than at any other contest these three-year olds will enter. There is no inside passing lane, either, so if you are behind the leader in the stretch, you don't have anywhere to go if someone is outside of your animal. The short distance from the final turn to the wire gives the leader an edge that is often insurmountable for even the strongest contenders. Because of this, the early fractions of the race are jaw-dropping to the casual fan. In fact, seeing a sub :27 first quarter is no surprise at all. Every time the starting gate is opened, it's a mad dash to the front. Because of this, Delaware is known as the home of "The World's Fastest Half-Mile Track".

The first turn of a race at the fairgrounds
The first turn of a race at the fairgrounds | Source

Understanding Heat Racing

In order for someone to be crowned the champion of the event, they must win TWICE that same day. Many of these equines have never run more than once in a single week. Now, they are asked to defeat the top horses in North America two times in the course of a few hours.

Depending on the number of entries, the horses are divided into separate "heats", or eliminations, similar to what you would see in the Olympics. The gate can only accommodate 8 horses across and 1 trailer who starts directly behind the field. So, there are usually a total of 3 contests needed to set the field for a second (and possibly final) elimination.

Typically, the top 3 finishers from each of the heats will return for the second round. The post positions are determined by the first round results. The winners will randomly be awarded starting spots 1-3. If someone wins a second time, they are determined to be the Little Brown Jug victor. If anyone else grabs victory, a final race is held for the winners-only. So, it's quite possible that it will take THREE races in a four-hour period to be garnered as champion. That can be a tall order for even the best conditioned beast !

Michael's Power, driven by Scott Zeron, won the 2012 race and paid a generous $18.00 to win.
Michael's Power, driven by Scott Zeron, won the 2012 race and paid a generous $18.00 to win. | Source

Have you ever been to a harness race ?

See results
The winning trophy
The winning trophy | Source

Before the race ...

People don't just go to Delaware for the standardbreds. It's STILL a county fair, so you can fill up on concessions, ride a carousel, or just enjoy the delightful ambiance of the day. There are vendors selling racing memorabilia if you want to grab a souvenir. If you pay attention, chances are that some of the popular drivers will be wandering around and signing autographs. Also, you should visit the Jug entries in their stalls before it's time for them to go to work. The grooms are happy to answer any questions you may have. As a bonus, you can view the trophy on display which lists the previous winners.

Original bumper sticker from 1976
Original bumper sticker from 1976 | Source

Tips to Help You Enjoy the Experience

1. Get to the fairgrounds EARLY. The gates are usually open at 8am. Parking can be rough if you wait until later in the morning. Plus, the first race can start as early as 10:30. The main eliminations won't start until the afternoon.

2. Bring your own drinks. If you arrive at a good time, you will be close enough that it's worth returning to your car to raid the cooler. Otherwise, prepare on spending $20 on soda and water.

3. Make your wagers very early. If you need some basic advice, you should learn harness racing tips and strategies. The lines get long as the day progresses, so waiting until 5 minutes before the race is NOT a good strategy.

4. Be patient with others. Everyone is feeling crowded and getting frustrated by lack of space. So, it's pointless to let yourself get stressed out. Relax !

5. Figure out your plan on where to view the races. If you don't want to spend the money for a grandstand seat (around $30), you will have to experiment a little and find a place where you can see part of the track. My recommendation is to stand near the gates along the fence. Security operates these gates to let horses on and off the track, so they keep a path cleared. But, once the race is near, it remains closed and you can grab a good spot while others look elsewhere.

How much do you know ?

view quiz statistics

Unbelievable Performance by driver John Campbell !

The final of the 1993 Little Brown Jug had arguably the most amazing finish in the history of the sport. Even today, casual fans and experts alike talk about the stunning effort from Brittany Farm's superstar standardbred.

LIFE SIGN was trying to prevent RIYADH from winning another leg of pacing's Triple Crown. The 3-year old bay colt was trained by local legend Gene Riegle and had the full support of the Ohio crowd. I was fortunate enough to be there and was seated about 10 rows from the fence when the race began.

If you don't want to watch the introductions, you can skip to the 5:00 mark and see the race. You'll hear the crowd screaming when their local hero grabs victory from the jaws of defeat !

Final Words

You don't have to be a fan of the sport to enjoy the event. There is so much to do that I'm positive there is something for everyone. If you hate crowds, you would be better off staying at home or watching the race at your local racino or simulcast outlet.

However, if you are like so many others and look forward to Jug Day, come on out to the fair and have a great time. Keep in mind just how important post position is throughout the racecard and adjust your thinking accordingly. Also, the better drivers will typically dominate when the money is on the line, so don't put much faith in lesser-known sets of hands.

See you at the races !!!

Feedback, comments and questions are always welcome !

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)