Teague tandom in tip-top shape for Jug

by Harness Racing Communications, a division of the USTA

All most trainers can hope is that their horses are sound, training well and coming off sharp efforts when heading into a major stakes. Using those criteria, trainer George Teague Jr. feels quite good about his two Little Brown Jug contenders, Total Truth and Western Ace, as they head into Thursday’s classic race.

Contested in heats at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio, the Little Brown Jug is the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Total Truth won the first leg, the Cane Pace, on Labor Day at Freehold Raceway in New Jersey. He is the 8-5 favorite in the second of three first-heat divisions, having drawn post three in the eight-horse field. Western Ace, who got post two in the third division, is the 5-2 second choice behind rail-sitter Took Hanover (2-1).

The top three finishers from each division advance to the second heat. A horse must win two heats to be declared the Jug winner. If another horse wins the second heat, he will join the three first-heat winners in a race-off.

“I feel pretty good,” Teague said Monday. “I don’t want to say I’m confident because I don’t want to be cocky. But they’ve trained well and they were good in their last races. The draw kind of worked to our favor, too. Total Truth trained real sharp and is good and sound. He feels real good.”

Total Truth won the Cane Pace by a length over Took Hanover in 1:51.3, giving him five victories in 10 starts this season and nearly $1.2 million in purses. He won the $1.3 million North America Cup on June 17 and one week later claimed the $450,000 Hoosier Cup. He was third in the Adios on August 12 before taking a three-week break heading into the Cane. Both the Hoosier Cup and Adios were contested with eliminations and finals on the same day.

Western Ace is coming off a 1:50.2 win in a Jug Preview division at Scioto Downs on September 9. He was second in the Adios, and a week later was second in the Confederation Cup, another event in which the elims and final were held on the same day. He has two wins and three second-place efforts in his last five starts.

“They handled heat racing very well when they had to,” Teague said. “I don’t think heat racing is a problem; a good horse is a good horse. If they’re on their game, I don’t think it will be much of a factor. I do like my chances; it all comes down to trips.”

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