Tony Alagna said his trainee is in great shape heading into today’s 71st Little Brown Jug.
by Dave Briggs
Tony Alagna has no regrets about passing up a great shot to win the Little Brown Jug three years ago when he and the other connections of Captaintreacherous opted to skip a race that didn’t suit their horse. But then, as in, now the trainer was effusive in his love of the Jug.
“We wanted to do the right thing by the horse and hopefully this is our year to win it. The Jug and the Hambletonian are still on our list, that’s for sure,” Alagna said Wednesday in the Jug Barn shortly after his hopeful Racing Hill received a new set of shoes. “We haven’t been able to win the Jug yet, but we’ll get our shot and maybe he’s the one.”
Racing Hill and Brett Miller will start from post two in the second of two $92,320 Jug heats. Racing Hill is the 3-5 morning line choice in the field of five. Betting Line is the 3-5 choice in the six-horse first heat.
Alagna said Racing Hill, a homebred owned by Tom Hill of the United Kingdom — who will be present on Jug Day — is coming into the race in top form.
“I think he’s coming into the race in good shape and the rest, I believe, is up to Brett. I don’t think there’s anything, at this moment, that I would wish to be different with him right now. His bloodwork is good, everything checks out good, so it’s all systems go.
Racing Hill’s last pari-mutuel start was a victory on Sept. 3 in the $500,000 Messenger at Yonkers.
“I figured if he could go over Yonkers, then he could go over (Delaware),” said Alagna, referring to the fairgrounds’ half-mile oval. “He was very good in the Messenger, just a shutdown mile in :53 and he was very good over that track. And if he got around Yonkers, he ought to get around here with no problems.”
The son of Roll With Joe—Chasing Ideals has not finished off the board in his 11 seasonal starts and owns a lifetime mark 1:48.4.
Alagna said what he loves most about the Jug is its history.
“The people that are here, they truly, truly are harness racing lovers,” Alagna said. “Now Ohio has been able to get slots and some more money around here, but long before that these people were true harness racing fans. So any time you can bring a top-notch horse to have the people come to the Jug barn and see him, it means something. And it means something to a lot of us. We spend so much time as trainers with our heads down just doing our job that we never lift our heads up and realize how blessed we are to have these horses and it’s an honor to bring them here and have these people be able to see them. That’s what I enjoy about the Jug the most.
As for a favorite Jug, Alagna motioned to the stall where Wiggle It Jiggleit was holding court.
“I didn’t see a lot of the early Jugs, but, of course, Wiggle It Jiggleit’s Jug was one of the greatest races ever,” Alagna said as Wiggle It Jiggleit’s caretaker Big Mike Taylor walked past and grinned. “It goes down in history.”
Today, Alagna is hoping to make some of his own.