This year’s revamped, diluted edition of the Grade I, $600,000 Little Brown Jug may have continued the sport’s trend of eliminating heat racing altogether but it again showed the correlation between inside posts and early speed on half-mile ovals.
In the lone $188,000 Jug elimination – not a true elim since all eight starters would return for the final – Fear The Dragon (David Miller) overcame an extended first over bid to live up to his billing as the top sophomore pacing colt in the land when he wore down Funknwaffles (Corey Callahan) and withstood a serious, late inside bid from Filibuster Hanover (Yannick Gingras) to score in 1:50.3, while favored stablemate Downbytheseaside (Brian Sears) settled for fifth.
In years past the winners of the multiple eliminations would draw for posts one, two and three and the second-place finishes would draw for posts four, five and six and the third-place finishers post seven, eight and nine. But the lone preview simply meant that the order of finish would dictate the post positions for the final. Fear The Dragon earned the coveted rail, with Filibuster Hanover in post two, Funknwaffles post three, Miso Fast post four and Downbytheseaside post five.
When the gate folded in the $400,000 Little Brown Jug final, Filibuster Hanover left alertly along the inside to gain command and Downbytheseaside left from between horses to drop into the pocket while Funknwaffles got away third with Fear The Dragon fifth after being several lengths from the gate in a genuine sluggish start. Filibuster Hanover forced Downbytheseaside to take a seat before reaching the opener in 26.4 and then rebuffed a bid from that one nearing the half and through the clubhouse turn.
Filibuster Hanover led the field down the backside and Downbytheseaside began to give way and compromised the chances of stablemate Fear The Dragon who veered back to the inside behind Funknwaffles. Filibuster Hanover opened a clear lead before three-quarters in 1:21.3 and held safe Funknwaffles to score in 1:50, while Miso Fast edged Fear The Dragon for third.
A sophomore son of Somebeachsomewhere trained by Ron Burke, Filibuster Hanover now owns a 3-6-0 slate and $520,000 banked from 14 starts this year and now sports a 5-7-2 slate and $635,000 banked from 27 career tries. Fear The Dragon will likely hold on to his top spot in the weekly Hambletonian Society National Top 10 Poll next Tuesday, but Ariana G is likely to get a few more first place votes and Downbytheseaside could slip a few spots after two modest efforts in the elim and final.