Hightstown, NJ — Hey Hey Mama will get the opportunity to rock and roll in Wednesday’s $305,000 Jugette for 3-year-old filly pacers, and if she does, it would be only fitting.
Named with a nod toward the opening line of Led Zeppelin’s song “Black Dog,” as well as sired by the Zeppelin-inspired Downbytheseaside, the co-fastest female pacer ever on a half-mile track is 4-1 on the morning line in the second of two $25,000 Jugette eliminations at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio.
Ronnie Wrenn Jr. will drive Hey Hey Mama for trainer Brian Brown, who is based at the fairgrounds. Hey Hey Mama will start from post two in a field of six. The top-four finishers from each elim advance to the same-day $255,000 final. The eliminations are races 18 and 19. The final is race 22, capping the day’s events.
Unraced as a 2-year-old because of an ankle injury, Hey Hey Mama has hit the board in eight of 10 starts this season, winning six and earning $112,500. On June 24, she captured a division of the Ohio Sire Stakes at Northfield Park in 1:49.3, joining 2020 Jugette winner Party Girl Hill and Ellagator as the sport’s fastest female pacers on a half-mile oval.
“She did it pretty handy,” Brown said about Hey Hey Mama’s world-record-equaling performance. “She’s got a great attitude, and that makes the whole difference. She tries hard. Of course, she has ability, but it’s mainly determination with her.”
Hey Hey Mama heads to the Jugette off a fourth-place finish in the Ohio Sire Stakes championship on Sept. 9. Making her first start in two months because of a tendon issue, she was beaten by one length.
“I think we’re coming into the race in pretty good shape,” said Brown, who won the 2014 Jugette with Color’s A Virgin. “She missed some time, but Kyle Ater swam her for me almost every day, got her real good. She had one qualifier, qualified good, and then went into that (OSS final). If she had a little more daylight a little quicker, I think she had a chance to win that race. So, we decided to give the Jugette a shot.
“She showed us she was a good filly last year. She qualified in (1):54.3 here at Delaware in late June last year. We had to wait last year, and again a little this year, but she is well worth the wait.”
Hey Hey Mama, a daughter of Downbytheseaside-Rolluptherim, was purchased as a yearling under the name Cooksferry Queen for $62,000 at the 2021 Ohio Selected Jug Sale. Her family includes award-winners Caviart Ally and Eternal Camnation.
She is owned by Country Club Acres, Milton Leeman, Joe Sbrocco, and Acadia Farms. Country Club Acres and Sbrocco also raced the Brown-trained Downbytheseaside, who was the 2017 Pacer of the Year.
“You never know what you’re going to get, but she certainly shows speed and she’s got heart,” Country Club Acres’ James Koehler II said. “I think she would have won the (Ohio) championship if she had been in form. It’s just one of those things.
“She’s in tough (Wednesday), no doubt. But she’s got a good post position and she’s got homefield advantage. We had a horse go Monday at Delaware (Liteningonthebeach) and when they’re on their home track, it makes a big difference.”
As for Hey Hey Mama’s name, Koehler said, “Milt and I kind of cooked up that name. I’ve done well with Led Zeppelin songs, as far as naming horses.”
Zanatta is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the second Jugette elimination, leaving from post one with Joe Bongiorno driving for trainer Jennifer Bongiorno. Odds On Hail Mary, the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champ, is 3-1 from post six for driver Scott Zeron and trainer Linda Toscano.
Joining Hey Hey Mama at 4-1 are Ohio Sire Stakes champ Tarapasta, who goes from post four with Aaron Merriman in the sulky for Todd Luther, and Southwind Bella, who starts from post five for Yannick Gingras and Ron Burke. Burke holds the record for training wins in the Jugette with four. Gingras is a three-time winner of the event.
Earthwindfire is the 2-1 morning-line choice in the first elimination, leaving from post four in a field of five. Tim Tetrick, also a three-time Jugette winner, will drive for trainer Brett Pelling, who won the race in 1998 with Armbro Romance. John Campbell was in the sulky behind Armbro Romance, picking up one of his record five driving victories in the Jugette.
Racing begins at noon (EDT) Wednesday at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. For complete entries, click here. For free daily programs, visit the Little Brown Jug website here and look under the “Race Info” tab.