The connections of Messenger winner American Courage paid $45,000 to supplement to Thursday’s Jug, while the teams behind Oakwoodanabella IR and Smothastenesewisky each paid $15,000 to make them eligible for today’s Jugette.
by Brett Sturman
Starting in 2022, there won’t be any stipulations when it comes to supplementing to the Little Brown Jug. Years from now though, there’s a chance that open supplements could be misconstrued as the “Charlie May rule,” due to the purely coincidental timing of the implementation of the new rule and efforts for the 3-year-old gelding to race in this year’s edition of the Little Brown Jug.
This is the final year where if not initially staked to the Little Brown Jug, that a horse could supplement for a hefty amount of $45,000 to the race if he had won either the Messenger Stakes, Cane Pace, North America Cup, or Meadowlands Pace. The decision for that change was agreed to over two years ago, long before the debate as to if first-past-the-post Meadowlands Pace winner Charlie May should have been able to supplement while his Pace disqualification appeal remains unsettled.
For certain, the decision to allow anyone to supplement to the Jug from 2022 onward is the correct one. Interestingly, it’s a rule that never applied to the Jugette and as such, there are two Jugette supplements for today’s race that wouldn’t have been able to enter otherwise if the same rules of the Jug applied.
In broader support, supplemental entries should be allowed universally for all open stakes. The staking system in harness racing makes those smaller owners at an extreme disadvantage. Because of the exorbitant costs to stake and continue to make lengthy sustaining stakes payments, smaller outfits must carefully select what stakes they target. And you could debate separately how much sense it makes statistically speaking to even supplement $45,000 to the Little Brown Jug, but it’s better to have that option than not have it at all.
As for Charlie May and this year’s Little Brown Jug, there’s no question that the feel-good horse whose connections maintain strong ties to the local community would have really pumped up the Delaware County faithful. But rules are rules, and they were interpreted as such that it didn’t allow for the Charlie May story to play out on the track this week. It’s a tough situation, but the good news is that this type of predicament won’t exist going forward.
Of the three horses that were supplemented for today and Thursday, Oakwoodanabella IR and Smothastenesewisky will join the Jugette lineup, with American Courage anteing up to start in the Little Brown Jug by virtue of him being this year’s winner of the Messenger Stakes.
Oakwoodanabella IR has gained notoriety for being an Irish-bred (full story here), though her breeding is far from obscure. Out of Carmel Camden, her granddam is Pan Culottes who won the 2-year-old fillies Breeders Crown in 2003 at the Meadowlands in a first-over upset of Kikikatie. Her sire Foreclosure N beat top older pacing horses here during his career, and he’s out of Pleasing Package A who had a successful racing career in North America too.
Just off two starts, it’s hard to say how Oakwoodanabella IR matches up with the likes of Test Of Faith. She won most recently in 1:50.4 at Scioto and times that night across the board seemed relatively quick. She landed in the far tougher elimination but does have the post edge on what appear to be her two biggest threats; Ronnie Wrenn Jr. gets the call for trainer Brian Brown.
Also supplementing to the Jugette for $15,000 is Smothastenesewisky. The career overachiever most recently romped in the $300,000 Ohio Sire Stakes final and is more than deserving of a shot in the Jugette. In between both supplemental entries is a daunting challenge in Test Of Faith. The Pelling trainee most recently jogged in the New York Sires Stakes final and has been one of the best – if not the best – fillies over the last two seasons collectively. The first Jugette elimination shows Nashville Elgenna (2-1) as favored over Scarlett Hanover (7-2) but I’d be shocked if that isn’t reversed come post time.
In the Jug, I’ll admit that I was surprised by the supplement of American Courage. Expectations were high entering the Meadowlands Pace on the heels of his Messenger wins at Yonkers, but the reality is that he hasn’t been as sharp for the last couple of months. Reportedly he had some issues when racing on Lasix that caused some of his off performances and in his favor is the fact that he hasn’t lost this year on a half-mile track.
On the flip side of the Lasix issues from American Courage is Lou’s Pearlman. After posting back-to-back 1:47.4 miles in July he came up short in the Adios. From there, he was put on Lasix and has jogged in his last three. He finds himself in a pretty cozy draw in his elimination and taking them wire to wire would set him up favorably for the Jug final.
Back to the American Courage elimination, Perfect Sting drew the outside post 6. He only needs to get into the top 4 to draw into the final so that shouldn’t be an issue, but there’s an obvious premium on winning the elimination. With almost every horse to his inside having the potential to leave – and at least a couple of them will – Miller will have to be careful not to get caught in something crazy if he tries to leave as well with Perfect Sting.
Jugette final heat picks: Test Of Faith, Scarlett Hanover, Oakwoodanabella IR
Jug final heat picks: Lou’s Pearlman, Perfect Sting, Rockyroad Hanover