COLUMBUS, Ohio — The third jewel of pacing's triple crown, the Little Brown Jug, is ready to be plucked. But Nihilator will not attempt to grab the gem.
Pershing Square, winner of the first leg of the triple crown, the Messenger Stake, will be there. So will Chairmanoftheboard, winner of the second leg, the Cane Pace. Also on hand will be Marauder, who owns the world record for 3-year-old pacers over a five-eighths mile track.
When they come to the post for the 40th edition of the Little Brown Jug at Delaware (Ohio) Fairgrounds Thursday, it figures to be one of the fastest fields ever in the event. Even though Nihilator, the fastest miler in standardbred history, will be a no-show.
Wall Street Stable, which owns Nihilator, entered Nihilator in the Dancer Memorial Friday at Garden State (N.J.) Park. But the principal owner of the Nihilator Syndicate said, "The horse is beginning to say enough is enough" after a series of six races in six weeks.
The Little Brown Jug, the one-mile showcase event of the five-day Grand Circuit race meeting, will likely go in two divisions with as many as 15 horses in the field. The entries will race over one of the fastest half-mile strips in the country. The United States Trotting Assn. recently reduced the track's official rating from 2:04.3 to 2:02, thereby substantiating all record miles.
Since Nihilator's owners decided to forgo the Jug, Chairmanoftheboard and Marauder most likely would be the favorites.
Chairmanoftheboard has eight victories, seven seconds and five thirds in his 25 seasonal starts. The Meadow Skipper colt, owned by New Concept Stables of Lawrenceville, N.J., tuned up for the Jug by capturing the Jug Preview a week ago at Scioto Downs. With John Campbell driving, Chairmanoftheboard took the lead at the half and coasted to a two-length victory over Marauder in the $152,350 event at the five-eighths mile track just south of Columbus.
"The colt is as sharp as he has been all season," said Campbell after the victory. "I'm sure he will be fit and ready for Delaware."
Pershing Square, a Niatross colt driven by Bill O'Donnell, won the Messenger at Roosevelt Raceway in 1:55.2, an all-age track record.