What is it about the Jug that gives people a buzz?

What is it about the Jug that gives people a buzz?

September 21, 2018

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by Garnet Barnsdale

Buzzworthy was at this year’s Little Brown Jug and I went around asking industry participants and racing fans what it is about the Jug that gives them a buzz. There was a common theme that developed. Here is a sampling of the responses:

Stay Hungry driver Doug McNair – “It’s a great atmosphere; lots of people are here, it’s a really good party, and it’s a great race. I think it’s my favorite race and I always wanted to win it. It’s just nice to be in it and have a legit shot.”

Adriano Sorella, owner of 2013 Little Brown Jug winner Vegas Vacation — “The old time feel it has. It really does feel like you’re at a fair, where anyone and everyone line up to watch, and in the end your racing for some serious money and prestige.”

Little Brown Publicity Director Jay Wolf — “Obviously, 73 years of tradition is hard to ignore,” he said. “I’m just happy to follow Wil Kilburger and the legendary Tom White and carry on their tradition.”

Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame Marketing Director Chris Tully — “For me, it’s the fans and their enthusiasm.”

Photographer and racing fan Ryan Dickey — “It’s the pre-eminent race of the year, so, why not be here”?

USTA social media director Michael Carter – “I’ve said it before; fair racing brings on a totally different atmosphere. Racing right in the middle of the fair with the fair food and the excitement of the fans who are right on top of the action is awesome. Fair racing is just great.”

Hall of Fame communicator Gordon Waterstone – “The whole atmosphere of the day with all of the people surrounding the track with the chairs lined up permanently for people that come every year. It’s the whole atmosphere: the double heat race and the excitement and fun of the surroundings. It’s a long day, but it’s a great day.”

Mohawk Park track announcer Ken Middleton – “I think it’s the crowd more than anything. We don’t see that very much at all even at some of our major events. Yeah, it’s the crowd.”

Wes Delight/Decoy Driver Yannick Gingras – “The crowd, no doubt. That’s what you come here for and it’s different from the day-to-day races at every other racetrack; it’s a bigger crowd, they’re right on top of you all the way around the racetrack. That’s what makes the Jug so special.”

Stay Hungry trainer Tony Alagna – “Just the atmosphere. You know it kind of gives us all a little bit of hope that there are true harness racing fans still around that like to see great horses race. You come here, and you feel that energy. You pull into the gate on Jug day and the energy is incredible. To see this many true harness racing fans gives you hope that the industry still has some life left in it.”

Hambletonian president and CEO John Campbell – “Just the closeness of the crowd to the track. It’s the atmosphere and the electricity that comes off the crowd.”

Railbird Harry Watson, who has been to the Jug for the last “10 or 12 years” – “The half-mile track, the aggressive driving and the people.”

For me, it’s all of that and more. It’s about making memories with my son Nicholas (Ace). It’s about the food – especially the Der Dutchman banana cream pie. It’s about meeting up with and spending time with friends within the industry. But mostly it’s about what I love doing most — watching, betting on, writing about and enjoying harness racing on one of its greatest stages.

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