By: Robin Yocum
The 78th running of the Little Brown Jug will take place at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on Sept. 21.
Destination Delaware sat down with Race Secretary Tom Wright to talk all things Little Brown Jug. Here are some facts you should know if you’re coming to “the Jug,” and some trivia that will help you dazzle your friends with your inside knowledge of harness racing’s greatest event.
– The Little Brown Jug takes place each year on the third Thursday after Labor Day.
– The race is named after a famous plow-horse turned pacer – Little Brown Jug. Foaled in 1875, Little Brown Jug was one of the most well-known pacers of his day, winning 17 times and setting a three-heat world’s record in 1881.
– A contest to name the race was hosted by the Delaware Gazette newspaper. Little Brown Jug was selected from the many entries submitted.
– The race is for three-year-old colt pacers
– Owners and trainers considering putting a horse in the Jug pay a three-year, graduated fee. The entry fee for a yearling is $50, and the Jug will have about 1,200 horses registered. If the horse shows potential, the fee for a two-year-old is $500, and about 400 horses will remain in the pool. The fee for a three-year-old is $750, and the field drops to about 100 horses. The final fee to enter the Jug is $7,000. About 16-18 horses will be registered for the Jug.
– If an owner wants to enter the Jug, but hasn’t paid any of the preliminary fees, they can pay a supplemental fee of $45,000. Is it worth it? Ask the owners of 2022 Little Brown Jug champion Bythemissel. The colt was entered with a supplemental fee and took home about $320,000.
– Race Secretary Wright won’t know how many horses are being registered for the Jug until three days before the race.
– There are two-three preliminary heats to race for the Jug, each of which have a winner’s purse of $50,000. Generally, the top four horses from each
preliminary heat race in the featured event. The winning purse this year is $900,000. It is the first $1 million purse for the Jug.
– The Jugette is held on Wednesday for three-year-old fillies. Female horses are generally slower than their male counterparts.
– At the end of each Little Brown Jug, some people use chains and locks to secure their chairs to the fence around the Delaware County Fairgrounds racetrack to reserve their seats for the following year.
– The cost to get into the fairgrounds on Jug Day is $20.
– Attendees are welcome to bring lawn chairs and coolers to Jug Day festivities. There is plenty of tailgating in the parking lot.
– Some attendees begin arriving at the fairgrounds at 7 a.m. on Jug Day to take their seats for the day of racing. The first race goes off at noon.
– There will be a total of 20-22 races on Jug Day.
– The Jug preliminary races begin around 4:30 p.m. The finale begins about 6:30 p.m. The racetrack does not have lights and Wright said he must get the race off before dark.
– The racetrack is clay and not dirt. Clay has more give than dirt and is easier on the animals. If rain in predicted, the track will be covered with pea gravel to absorb the water.
– Wright hires about 250 temporary employees in the weeks leading up to the race.