by Dean Hoffman
When the Little Brown Jug was raced in 2001, horse racing simply didn’t seem to matter so much.
Nine days earlier, airline hijackings resulted in the most tragic day in America history. The twin towers of the World Trade Center fell in Manhattan, a plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC and another into a rural field in Pennsylvania. The resulting death toll exceeded 3,000.
Americans were stunned by the horrors they had witnessed and sports were an afterthought for most people.
Yet the owners of 29 sophomore pacers ponied up the entry fee to start in the Little Brown Jug. Twenty-seven of them seemed superfluous because a pair of colt pacers—Bettor’s Delight and Real Desire—were the cynosure of all eyes.
As a sophomore, Bettors’ Delight and Real Desire continued their rivalry and racing fans realized that they were seeing two of the best ever when they met on the track.
That year both Bettor’s Delight and Real Desire by-passed racing in the Cane Pace and Messenger, a move that further contributed to the loss of prestige for those events and the Triple Crown. The connections of the top two colts, however, weren’t about to skip the Little Brown Jug.
In the Jug, they unfortunately drew into the same division, thus robbing the race of some of its drama. Bettor’s Delight drew post three while Real Desire started from the sixth slot. That advantage, couple with the fact that Bettor’s Delight was as handy as a Swiss Army Knife, allowed Bettor’s Delight set the fractions. Real Desire struggled on the outside for the entire mile and finished second, beaten two lengths, in 1:52.
When Bettor’s Delight drew the inside post for the second heat and Real Desire drew post five, the decision seemed pre-ordained. Bettor’s Delight was the even-money favorite and driver Mike Lachance shot him to the front and never looked back. Real Desire was parked the final half-mile without cover and simply couldn’t reach.
The Jug belonged to Bettor’s Delight, a remarkably quick and consistent colt over two seasons.
This year’s 69th Annual Little Brown Jug is brought to you by Fazoli’s