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Delaware, OH — Elimination winners Lou’s Pearlman and Perfect Sting went nose to nose in Thursday’s $397,080 final of the Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old pacers, and in the end, it was the nose of Lou’s Pearlman that was first to the wire.
Lou’s Pearlman captured the 76th Little Brown Jug at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in 1:52.4 over a track labeled “good.” He came out on top following a three-horse battle that also included Whichwaytothebeach, who finished third, with the trio racing three across the backstretch and into the final turn.
Coming to the stretch, the race was between Lou’s Pearlman and Perfect Sting, who battled side by side to the finish line.
“He’s just a hard horse to get by,” winning driver Yannick Gingras said about Perfect Sting. “He’s tough. But this little guy here is really tough, too. He’s super sharp. All credit goes to the Burke Brigade. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year with him.”
Ron Burke trains Lou’s Pearlman, who gave the conditioner his third Little Brown Jug trophy. All three of the victories have come with Gingras in the sulky. Lou’s Pearlman was bred by Burke Racing, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and Elizabeth Novak. The group owns the horse, a son of Sweet Lou out of Lucy’s Pearl, with Howard Taylor.
On Wednesday, Burke-trained Scarlett Hanover won the Jugette for 3-year-old female pacers. Burke became the first trainer since Brett Pelling in 1998 to win the Jug and Jugette in the same year. In addition, Burke won 13 races at the Delaware County Fairgrounds for the week, a record for a trainer.
“It’s been a magical week,” said Burke, whose week also included receiving word he had been elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and watching his parents, Mickey and Sylvia, recognized as the Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame honorees.
“I’m so proud of this horse. He’s a homebred, it’s our sire, our mare. We get a lot of people telling us we’re going to go broke breeding to Sweet Lou. I don’t think it’s going to happen.
“I’m really happy and I’m proud of the guys.”
Lou’s Pearlman entered the Little Brown Jug eliminations with a three-race win streak. He won his elim by 1-3/4 lengths over Whichwaytothebeach in 1:54. Third-place finisher Mysweetboymax was 11-1/2 lengths from the winner.
“The horse couldn’t have trained any better here on Monday,” assistant trainer Mickey Burke Jr. said about Lou’s Pearlman following the elimination. “He did everything we wanted, and he’s had a good week. The (ear) plugs were still in today (after the elim) so we’re real pleased with how he went.”
In the final, Perfect Sting went to the lead from post one with Lou’s Pearlman settling into second and Whichwaytothebeach third. The horses raced in single-file alignment to the quarter in :28.1 and reached the half in :57.2, but by that point the outer flow was underway with Lou’s Pearlman leading the charge.
Whichwaytothebeach made it three across the track heading to three-quarters, with the group hitting that marker in 1:25.1.
“I would have rather been on the front, but it’s just the way the cards were dealt,” said Gingras, who also was elected to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame this week. “I wasn’t going to get locked in. Ronnie and I talked a little bit about it before the race, and I wasn’t so keen maybe on pulling that early, but he seemed pretty confident, so I went with his gut feeling.
“It never gets old, that’s for sure,” Gingras added about the win. “It’s a special race. It’s one of the biggest ones for sure, if not the biggest one. It’s always a pleasure to be here.”
Lou’s Pearlman has won seven of 14 races this year and $510,032. For his career, the colt has won 12 of 25 starts and $709,326.
“We’ve got the best trainer in the world, the best driver in the world, and the best sire in the world,” co-owner Weaver said in the winner’s circle.
Bruscemi later added, “I really don’t have words for it. It’s nothing you could dream of. I’m real glad I’m a part of it.”
Lou’s Pearlman, Perfect Sting win Jug eliminations
Lou’s Pearlman and Perfect Sting won Thursday’s two $132,360 eliminations of the Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old male pacers to lead a field of eight to the $397,080 final.
Ron Burke-trained Lou’s Pearlman and driver Yannick Gingras won the first elimination in 1:54 by fighting off a lengthy first-over challenge from Whichwaytothebeach, who finished second. Mysweetboymax was a distant third and Town Gossip fourth to complete the group advancing to the final.
Perfect Sting, trained by Joe Holloway and driven by David Miller, won the second elimination in 1:54.1 after a sustained first-up march from prior to the half to the three-quarters mark to overtake leader Rockyroad Hanover. I’ll Drink To That tried to catch Perfect Sting in the stretch, but settled for second. Water Sports Teen was third and Bayfield Beach fourth.