CAMPBELLVILLE, Ont. — Fortunately for owner Brad Grant, he doesn’t have time to dwell upon Stay Hungry’s disappointment in the Little Brown Jug.
Last year’s top two-year-old male pacer in Canada attempted to win the Jug and complete the Pacing Triple Crown on Thursday in Delaware, Ohio. Stay Hungry captured his elimination race by three-quarters of a length ahead of Dorsoduro Hanover, but ultimately was disqualified for interference with Dorsoduro Hanover in the first turn and placed fourth.
That still qualified Stay Hungry for the Jug final but on the very far outside in the eight-horse field. That prompted Grant to scratch Stay Hungry from the race that was ultimately won by Courtly Choice by a neck ahead of Dorsoduro Hanover, Lather Up and Hayden Hanover in a four-horse photo finish.
“It’s a tough way to lose it,” Grant, a trucking magnate from Milton, Ont., said Friday. “But those are the rules and unfortunately that’s horse racing.
“You can’t dwell on it, you can’t go, ‘What if?’ We didn’t race in the final so we don’t know what we would’ve done. Do I think he was good enough to win? Yes. But I didn’t go into it confident enough that we were going to win it.”
On Saturday night, Captain Ahab, a horse co-owned by Grant, will put his unbeaten mark on the line in the $890,000 Metro Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“Horse racing is a roller-coaster,” Grant said. “If (Captain Ahab) were to win, it would take some of the sting (of Little Brown Jug) away.
“We just figured it was a hot day, it’s going to be a tough race, there’s some tough ones on the inside of him, why kill him? Having the No. 8 hole down there just was going to be tough. Tony (trainer Tony Alagna) I talked about it and we decided to save the horse. We’d already made one mistake, why make another?”
Only 10 horses have captured the Pacing Triple Crown with No Pan Intended being the last in 2003. The 16-year drought will now be the longest in the series’ history.
“Yeah, disappointing,” Grant said. “First off, you don’t get to the Jug every day and secondly you don’t get the opportunity to race for the Triple Crown.
“The horses that finished first, second and third in the final were the ones we kind of believed were the horses to beat.”
Captain Ahab will look to improve to 8-0 in the Metro Pace final. Captain Ahab won his elimination in a new career mark of 1:50.4 for driver Andrew McCarthy and Alagna.
Captain Ahab has now earned $137,616 for owners Grant, Brittany Farms LLC, Vince Barbera and Captain Ahab Racing.
Stag Party, trained by Casie Coleman of Cambridge, Ont., won the other elimination race in 1:51 and will start from the No. 3 hole Saturday night, just inside Captain Ahab.
The Canadian Press