Casie Coleman’s fondness for the Delaware County Fair and the Little Brown Jug goes back years, to when she lived and trained in western Canada and watched the historic race at parties with friends.
In 2010, the party shifted to Delaware when she brought her first horse to the fair and won the Jugette with Western Silk. The party has yet to stop.
A year later, Coleman was back in the Jugette winner’s circle with Idyllic. In 2012, she captured the grand prize, winning the Little Brown Jug with Michaels Power.
On Wednesday, she will send Social Scene and Parlee Beach to the $257,750 Jugette. On Thursday, she sends the highly regarded tandem of Vegas Vacation and Lucan Hanover to the $552,551 Little Brown Jug. The last trainer to win the Jug in consecutive years was Tom Artandi in 1988-89.
“So far we’ve taken hardware home with us each time we’ve come,” Coleman said. “I hope we can do something again. To win the Jug again would be absolutely surreal. Just to be racing in it, let alone to win it two years in a row, is pretty awesome.”
Coleman, a 33-year-old native of British Columbia who now lives in Ontario, attended her first Little Brown Jug as a fan in 2007 and saw Jody Jamieson drive Tell All to victory. She knew Delaware was where she wanted to be someday, racing in the Jug.
“I thought we had to somehow get a horse good enough to race here because it was awesome,” Coleman said. “I grew up in B.C. and the Jug was a huge thing. We would have huge Jug Day parties and it was just awesome. I’ve never seen anything like the Jug atmosphere; seeing the heat racing and all the good drivers and the crowd of 40,000 to 50,000 people.
“Anyone that hasn’t been to the Jug, I highly recommend it. It’s unreal.”
Coleman has a good chance to continue her win streak at Delaware when Vegas Vacation and Lucan Hanover compete in the Little Brown Jug. The Jug is the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown and requires a horse to win twice to be declared the champion.
The top three finishers from three elimination heats advance to the second heat. If a first-round winner also wins the second heat, he is declared the winner. If another horse wins, then a four-horse race-off is held to determine the winner. The last race-off was in 2000, when Astreos defeated Gallo Blue Chip, George Scooter and Profita.
Vegas Vacation is the 2-1 morning line favourite in the first of the three opening-round heats; Lucan Hanover is the 5-2 choice in the second division.
“I really like the way both boys are looking,” said Coleman, who was honoured as Canada’s Trainer of the Year in 2012, the fifth time she received the award in the last eight years. Earlier this year, she got career training win No. 2,000.
“I think both have legit chances and both have been racing really well. Vegas looks like the better of my two, but Lucan looks good in his division. Both are big strong horses and seem healthy, so I don’t see the double heats bothering them if they’re fortunate enough to get to the second heat. Hopefully things will work out.”
Vegas Vacation, who will be driven by Brian Sears, has won seven of 13 races this year and is coming off a stakes-record 1:48.3 victory in his division of the Simcoe on Sept. 7 at Mohawk Racetrack.
Lucan Hanover, who will be driven by David Miller, has won six of 12 races this season. He was third in his division of the Simcoe.
“I was a little bit disappointed with him,” Coleman said. “I thought he should have been a little better than he was. When we scoped him, we found his allergies were really bothering him, so we’ve been working on that. It was really hot and humid in Toronto when his allergies were bothering him for the Simcoe. It’s been a bit cooler weather here, so that’s going to help him.”
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.