Little Brown Jug ‘Fear’ Heats On Fire; Hoosier Hosts Division Stars; Metro Stakes Spotlight Top Frosh Colt Pacers

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September 21st, 2017

Features aplenty this extended week of harness action. The first feature goes on Thursday, as the sport’s focus is upon glamour-boys and the Great American Pace, the Little Brown Jug, along with its trot version, the Old Oaken Bucket.

From there we head to the Midwest for a huge night at Hoosier Park and then its back to Mohawk for the mighty Metro Stakes and its female partner, the She’s A Great Lady.

A common tool, the H2W (the horses-to-watch) list, is located in its usual spot at the bottom of this blog to help you boost the payoffs betting in any betting pool. Do your own handicapping and then consider our H2W selections when playing your bets. Of course, remember to be fully armed with a plentiful TwinSpires betting account.


This year, on Thursday, Sept. 21, eight horses will go two heats to decide the Little Brown Jug champion. Things have changed so that this year the eliminations only establish an eight-horse field for another heat (with all of the same horses) later in the program. The Jug champ will be the winner of the second heat, regardless of finish position in the first. The first heat is worth $188,928 and the final is worth $401,472. The post positions for the final will be determined by the finishing positions in the first heat, with the winner assigned post 1 and all others taking positions according to how they finished in the first heat.

As followers of our TwinSpires harness blog and others in the industry are aware, Fear The Dragon has been our choice to dominate the soph-colt pacing division from before he began his soph campaign, as documented in Hoof Beats magazine prior to the season’s start. Each time “Fear” raced at three he has been worth a bet—even after the public caught on and he paid two digits. We thought he might skip the Jug and let his stable mate Downbytheseaside roll away with two sharp wire-to-wire wins but he has shown up and is primed to beat his stable mate and all others on the wicked half-mile in Ohio. 

He should be win in the first heat and pay well enough but the final heat is a price in question, especially when Downbytheseaside loses the first race and does not return for the second. 


Once there was a time when this race was near as exciting as the main attraction at the traditional Ohio Jug fair but now it is merely a shadow of itself and this year it presents only a field of five that are represented by only three barns—and still it offers a purse of $105,125. Chris Beaver sends two, Frank Antonacci sends two and Jonas Czernyson sends the leftover.

In a field this slim, Shake It Off Lindy may have the edge, though a price is up for grabs. This colt has given a number of fine performances against the best in the division, though that is the best we can say for him. He has, of course, made good dough from only nine starts and perhaps Antonacci is targeting a small group that will best reflect the quavering talents of this colt.


For $120,500, it’s another small field in the Ms Versatility Final for mare trotters. Five will be on the gate and one strong opinion rules. This is the best shot for Caprice Hill this season to show she has something yet to contribute at three. She has won only a single race in eight starts after a monstrous frosh campaign and with only that win, three places and a show she has earned almost $95,000. From the rail on this track, she may be able to show the kind of domination she once displayed as the season dwindles. The crowd may not give her the chance we give her and that would be good for a wager.


Six top events adorn the Sept. 22 Hoosier Park program, attracting major talent with big earnings on their minds. Here are our takes for suggested contenders at the Indiana track that night in the order of the major events.


Frosh-colt pacers go for $125,000 in this mile; nine start on the gate, four of them from the Ron Burke barn. Nothing against Burke but Closing Statement, Joe Holloway’s entry, may take these for quite a ride, if not wire to wire then in a sweep down the Hoosier highway stretch. This Somebeachsomewhere guy likes to win or go home.


Ten two-year-old filly trotters go for $240,000 in this traditional stake that finds a home at Hoosier (its roots come from the Kentuckiana Farm, not Indiana) and offers purses few of these freshmen ever race for again. In this mile, Takter sends three and veteran trainer Chuck Sylvester brings a tough gal, Hey Blondie. Look for all of those to be wagered upon strongly.

A good outsider here is Chris Beaver’s inside-10-hole starter, Custom Cantab, who may go off a healthy price considering there are many arguments for these green gals, all of which are only getting used to the classy level they must face for this kind of money.


Soph-filly trotters are offered $160,000 in the Moni Maker; seven showed up. It’s a talented bunch but not the “Oaks” brand. Two of Ake Svanstedt’s group, Ice Attraction and Evelyn, are good earners but not so consistent. Top-earner That’s All Moni may be the favorite for Takter but just how big a choice is debatable. On the outside, the Millers’ Overdraft Volo should be a decent price and unhampered by the 7 hole. He may be the best here and this race may prove it.


Ten frosh pacers chase $200,000 in another Kentuckiana event. Burke trains half of the field but the Holloway student, Rainbow Room, may lead the win-pool race. She has only lost one of six and will be tough to beat here, though we should try for a price with one the crowd may dismiss—Alexa’s Power. Jim Campbell conditions this Somebeachsomewhere gal, whose record is impressive and should love the long stretch.


Speaking of Joe Holloway, this $160,000 event named after his champion pacer, has eight leaving the gate, including the Jug-getaway boy Huntsville. Coming from a rest and meeting lesser talent than his last race, a loss, he will be a huge favorite. However, Huntsville may be on the wane and/or forced to work too hard here to win, giving an upset price to a colt who like Huntsville skipped the Jug—Ocean Colony. Takter has been looking for a spot where this guy could win commandingly and if the colt is anywhere near as raring to go as Takter is to let him go, he could have a decent end of the season starting here and now.

Another Burke brigade is launched here, in this case from the three inside posts, and they will all be played to the hilt. McWicked from the inside 10 hole will get play and even Boston Red Rocks—who still looks for his first win this season—will get some play. Could, however, Missile J, the colt with the second most wins this season in the field be a valuable bet? We think he is worth the support, especially since the Burke trio has not been consistent and this division has not found a dominant member.


Hoosier’s trotting classic opens its pages to the best older trotters of the season, led by Hannelore Hanover. There are 10 here and she has beaten them all at one time or another, male or female, on all size tracks, in all kinds of weather. She could be your key if you want to attack this event with exotics or you could take a swing at JL Cruze getting a trip like he had some weeks ago at huge odds. Last week, we gave you these two in an exacta that won easily.


The richest two-year-old pacing event of the season, the Metro Pace, formerly a million-dollar affair, gathers 10 for the $816,000 final on Saturday, Sept. 23 at Mohawk, as well as nine others going for $50,000 in the consolation.

With the field being mostly close in ability, favoritism in the Metro consolation is tough to gauge. Shadow Moon, for his mostly undefeated career prior to the eliminations, could be the favorite but so could This Is The Plan, who rallied late to finish fourth and just miss the final. Most likely, This Is The Plan will be the favorite here, but if he is dismissed, he will offer great value as a second or third choice.

After an on-the-front effort in his elimination, Phil The Thrill could return to this consolation offering a tantalizing price, especially once again drawing the rail. So long as he stalks a fragile pace most likely set by Shadow Moon, he should have a greater shot at victory compared to in his elimination

Stay Hungry, Twin B Tuffenuff and Pedro Hanover will compete for the public’s dollars in the Metro final, all of which are entering off eye-catching performances winning eliminations. Either inflating the remaining seven’s odds or themselves being higher-priced favorites, this race can offer a tremendous amount of value.

Perhaps the most impressive starter out of the eliminations besides the winners is Lost In Time, who again draws well. Going first over, he was keen to lead, resulting in a first-over effort where he was a neck short at the line, finishing second to Stay Hungry capitalizing off cover. If he is as strong as he was in his elimination, he will no doubt be a contender coming down the stretch.


Moving straight to the final, the $500,000 Shes A Great Lady stakes gathers eight freshmen filly pacers lead by Kendall Seelster and Percy Bluechip. Off two-straight wins and an effort that ended Percy Bluechip’s undefeated streak, Kendall Seelster appears to be the sharper of the two moving into the final, perhaps making Percy Bluechip value depending on how strong a favorite Kendall Seelster is at post time.

Aside from the main two, Kissin In The Sand is an obvious counter contender, drawing better after a decent effort against the main duo in a division of the Champlain two weeks ago. Yet, Come See The Show, off a decent first-over trip in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Championship, will likely be ignored for her seemingly poor sixth-place finish last out. Neglecting the money she had taken in previous sires-staks divisions, along with winning two and finishing second in two more, she clearly has the form to race at this level and would just have to bounce in here to at least race well at a decent price.

H2W Legend

Review our choices and follow the wagering at the prescribed track. These are possible contenders we have judged from reviewing races. The horses’ names are listed beneath the name of the track after the date they will be racing. The race in which they are entered (R and race number) follows. If a + is in front of a horse’s name it means it is appearing on the list for the second (and last) time because it failed to win the first time it appeared. An “ae” signals the horse is entered on the also-eligible list. If a horse is listed twice, refer to the entries on the night of the race since a horse may enter in more than one race. Types of wagering on any of the H2W listed horses are based on your judgment. If you have any questions, email us at TwinSpires.


9/22/17, Fox Valley Iliad R2; Skyway Priss R7

9/23/17, +Astor R10
9/23/17, +Bands Houdini R6

9/23/17, +Churita R2

9/23/17, +Summer Side R6

9/22/17, Real Sharp R2; Hot Tap R3; Southwind Jaden R7; Awhimaway R10; Tuition Money ae R8 ae R10

9/23/17, El Puncho R1; UF Whosurdarlinboy R7

9/22/17, Its Complicated R1; +Yankee Will Dance R4; +Sarpa Hanover R6

9/21/17, +Ianthe Hanover R5
9/22/17, Forced Passage R3

9/21/17, +Knockout Rosie R11

9/21/17, Screaming Conway R2
9/22/17, Carobbean Pacetry R3